Rope Spinning

Cambridge District Scout Archive

March 1927         ‘Don Potter from Gilwell Park gave a demonstration of Rope Spinning and patrol calls’

A rope spinning demonstration is recorded in Cambridge University Archives in March 1925.

Don Potter, wood carver and scuptor, was an active volunteer and later employee at Gilwell. He became fascinated by a rope spinner in 1920 and learnt the skill. Whilst not clearly stated it is probably from him that rope spinning became a Scouting activity.

Don Potter c. 1935 (probably in Cambridge) from A J Covell’s album held by Cambridge Collection.

Don was in Cambridge as party of the Woodbadge Training at Trumpington Hall in 1931. He sighed the notes of Walter Miller (23rd) within a lasso.

Walter is later shown practicing his lasso work on the back of Arthur Samson’s motorbike.

The Rope spinning badge was available from 1934 and involved lasso work, although the quotes (top and bottom of page) clearly indicate that it was a popular activity for several years before this date.

The lasso was also known as a lariat, amongst other names, and became an activity through the films of North American cowboys (Westerns). The Cowboys themselves tended to refer to this as rope work or roping. The 1930’s were perhaps the heyday of ‘The Western’ film.

Lasso artists could also be found on the British Music Hall circuit (Variety theatre).

2nd Cambridge 1932

Rope spinning required the appropriate rope and the necessary whipping to secure the Honda; here a metal insert rather than the Honda Knot (ABoK 227) or eye splice (ABoK 229) used elsewhere.  A lariat could be purchased from the Scout shop.  (ABoK – See Activities/ Scouting Skills/ Knots)

The Scouter 1931 Spinning Rope

  • Heavyweight     Grade 1                5/8 (5 shillings and eight pence)
  • Heavyweight     Grade  2               4/6
  • Lightweight                                     3/3
12th Cambridge 1936

‘We practiced rope spinning, a favourite display item, …Reg Eaden and Jim Samson and others spinning Crinolines and other fancy roping items’             WTT Archaeology of Scouting

In this era emigrating to the Empire to work on farms and ranches was a well advertised job path. This activity was also, potentially, a working skill.

See Local History/ Scout Emigration Service.

JWR Archivist Feb 2020