Scout Belt

Cambridge District Scout Archive

A 1909 list in the Headquarters Gazette (the ‘Green Un’ before it became The Scouter) which demonstrated a full uniform could be achieved for 1/10 (one shilling and ten pence) stated ‘Most boys have belts or could make shift with an old strap’

1909 POR required that belts be        ‘Brown leather or web’

1919 POR required swivels.  No mention is made of the interlocking, quick release, fleur de lys buckle.  1919 POR gives:                       ‘Brown leather or web, with swivels.’

The photograph below, from the early 1920’s, shows the use both with belt tabs to hold up the shorts and over a tunic shirt.  A second belt or other system may be supposed for the shorts hidden by the tunics.

This photograph of the 9th Cambridge shows three Scout belts with the interlocking fleur de lys buckle and two with a standard buckle.  All five have swivels or metal rings into which equipment can be hooked. 

Some belts in the Archive Collection have permanently attached sprung and rotating clips.  They are not evident in the top photograph.  A carabineer style clip is evident on the right hand belt and below.

A full two part swivel is seen on this photo from c 1922. A sheath knife can be seen attached directly to the leather of the belt.

The Swivels enabled secure storage and ready access.  They were specifically to be used for mounting whistles or clasp knives.  A sheath knife could be removed from its sheath for use; the sheath did not require being readily detached and was attached to the leather of the belt.  As here both whistle and knife could be attached to a lanyard.     ‘We carried whistles on lanyards, and our knives, two blades and the famous “spike to take stones out of horse’s hoofs”. I well remember mine; my uncle had used it in the army, it was large and heavy, and as I ran it would swing on its swivel and crump my elbow.’ Archaeology of Scouting           W T Thurbon

The curious attachment (top photo – Scout on the right) may be a knife, the blade of which pivots back into the sprung U of the handle.

The Scout second from the right has a small belt pocket, probably for coins.  This was a common form of detachable ‘pocket’.

A coil of cord or small stuff could be carried on the belt.  This is one of the very few knots that carry a purely Scouting name in Ashley Book of Knots   ‘Scout coil                    (ABoK No.427)             a variation on the hangman’s noose that holds a length of rope in a neat coil and was carried on the belt by scouts.’

The use of a Scout belt by those in the armed forces was recalled as being one of the ways in which Scouts recognized each other.  ‘Bamboo Thumbsticks’, a record of Rover Crew of WW2 in India and the Far East, suggests that Scout belts and wristlets were frequently used to identify other Scouts.

With the introduction of the new uniform following the Advance Report in 1966 belts no longer had the swivel rings.  Knives were no longer carried as a uniform item on the belt. 

The Fleur De Lys pattern belt is still a uniform requirement.

(AKoB – Ashley Book of Knots: Published 1944 with 3854 numbered entries. The core reference work on knots.)

An early belt is held by the Cambridge Scout Archive Collection. ICSP was formed by the Church Lads Brigade on 25th March 1909 and effectively ran until 1913/14 when they were more fully absorbed into CLB as training patrols.

JWR Archivist Feb 2021