Primus Stoves

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.
Senior Morley Competition c 1950 – bake a cake or a sponge on a Primus.

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 Small versions were made that could be dismantled and carried in a rucksack, but they have been gradually superseded.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