Cambridge District Scout Archive
Most of the pictures of cooking at camp are on wood fire or a wood fire heated oven or fire pit. The Primus Stove is rarely photographed in use by Scouts. The lack of pictures may have several reasons.
- A Primus is a pressurized stove and required two fuels and a separate skill set to ignite and control. This is usually learnt as an experienced Scout – and numbers have always dropped after the age of 14.
- A Primus was an expensive piece of kit and even today refurbished models are more expensive than the alternatives. Few Troops would have one for each patrol.
- A Primus is only one heat source. Satisfactory single pot cooking is harder than using several billies. The picture below is a ‘challenge’, to bake a cake on a primus.
- They are less photogenic than a wood fire, require knowledge to appreciate their worth and the skills needed. As such they are less likely to appear in publicity photos.
The Primus was invented in 1892 and has existed throughout Scout history. It is known to have accompanied Shackleton and Mallory as well as Tensing/ Hillary in 1953. Small versions were made that could be dismantled and carried in a rucksack, but they have been gradually superseded.
An example resides in the District Collection and many more in Scout stores.
The original company stopped production in 1972.
JWR Archivist Jan 2021