Scout Scarves

Cambridge District Scout Archive

This page stands as an extention to Scout Scarves: A Cambridge History rather than the reverse.  Scout Scarves: A Cambridge History gives a general history that is illustrated by local events; it is not a complete list of every scarf in Cambridge.  No complete list of every Cambridge scarf exists, those that are known can be seen on the relevant Group page.  Maybe, one day, when I am snowed in and bored, I will do a comparison chart year by year but as it stands you will have to search each record.

In this extention piece I have placed photographs that add further general observations about scarves, again from Cambridge archive sources.  They are placed chronologically as far as can be determined by written date or context.


The Scout organised Flax camps of 1918 received a visit by BP. Their mode of dress caused some amusement both to BP and to the board of Agriculture officials. The boys, because of the humidity, had stripped to the waist and were wearing their neckerchiefs over their heads in a manner that reminded onlookers of pirates. (From Steve Nikel report in ‘Cambridgeshire Noticeboard’ 1999) BP sketched the scene which appearded in the ‘Headquarters Gazette’ of late 1918.

The wearing of scarves on the head is not a Scout novelty and photographs from 5th Cambridge in 1919 show the same dress style.


The newly formed Cambridge University Rovers ‘decided not to have a tie but a plain Cambridge blue neckerchief’.


The following picture of the 12th Cambridge Wolf Cub pack clearly show the effect of different styles of tying the scarf knot.  One has the wrap over from the light half of the scarf, the rest the dark.  It may indicate right and left handedness.  However, all schoolboys wore a tie as part of school uniform and this is often learnt in a mirror, which may confuse this cause.  The scarves are very neat and it is possible that they were retied by the leaders before the sitting.

The necktie knot is in contrast to the untucked knots seen at the top of the companion page on scarves.

The Lady Cubmaster clearly either did not notice or did not enforce a regular style, even for the photograph.

In all cases the tying crosses the scarf colours to sit opposite the colour on the shoulder.  A neat knot in the end of each necker can be seen.  Some difference in colour can be determined between scarves which were Royal Blue and Cambridge Blue halves.


The full article is held in a scrapbook from the 23rd Cambridge in the Cambridgeshire collection.

From The Scouter March 1924

The University Rovers decided that ‘scarves should not be worm with sweaters’.


The following black and white photograph is noted for what is possibly hand colouring of the scarves.  It does provide positive identification to the member on the left where the dark blue has taken or held up well.  The coloured scarf to the right may have modified over time.  The remnants of a less prominent colouring may be seen in the clothing, sea and trees, giving a more sepia tone than one might anticipate at this date.  (I have no expertise in photographs from this period.)

We can also observe two lapel badges, one Scout buckle and presumably belt, four sets of garter tabs on mixed stockings and two ties.  The ties are cut equally at both ends and worn with the front shorter than the rear.  The leaders are sufficiently neat about their appearance to suggest that this is not a concern and that is worn as a marker like the scarf.  That the ties have been carefully coloured like the scarves may re enforce this hypothesis.  A green tie or Group scarf were both uniform for leaders.

This was only the second example of a Scouter with a cigarette I identified from the archives.

See Smoking and Scouts under Activities/ Expectations and Behaviour

1932 The University Rover Leader ‘proposed that in future the Group should not knot the ends of their scarves. This was carried.’

1938 The university Rovers, on discovering that an emblem required IHQ permission, decided to remain with the plain scarf.

1942 12th Cambridge record their scarf as

  • Cub Dark Blue Triangle with Light Blue Border
  • Scouts and Rovers Same as above but with Fluer de Lys n Gold Thread in Corner

The ‘Triangle’ is noteworthy.

1947 Formal group photographs of the 60th Cambridge (Leys) around this date show a clubbed or curtailed scarf being worn by all the Sea Scouts and two members out of uniform but in plain white shirts and sports shorts. Two of the three leaders in Sea scout uniform wore their (non standard) scarves long. All other members of the Troop wore their scarves long.

1950 Cambridge University Scout Group scarves at 2/6 each. In 1953 a CUSAGC light blue scarf and badge was recorded with the rather ambiguously noted ‘as an alternative for lady members of the club’ leaving it unclear about just what is being referred to. Difficulties with Guide POR was noted but suggested that they ‘turn a blind eye and recommends for lady members and let them to fight it out (with Guide HQ).


A set of poor quality triangular Silver Grey scarves with a the earliest version of the Cambridgeshire badge were bequeathed with the John Chambers collection. There purpose is unclear – that they remain in a set suggests that they were issued on occasions to identify County workers.

JWR Archivist July 2019