Senior Scouts in Cambridge

Cambridge District Scout Archives

Before 1946   

Charles McLean, Chief Scout, observed in his Foreword to the 1957 ‘Running a Senior Scout Troop’ that ‘Senior scouting goes back to the very early days in the Movement, when many large Troops split themselves in two on an age basis’.

The term Senior Scout was used formally for a short period before the name Rovers was adopted in 1918. Some very early proposals used the term Rovers alongside a SS emblem.

Cambridge Archives

1912 the 13th Cambridge (not yet the Notts’ Own) started a ‘much criticised “Junior Patrol,” not for boys under age, but for the smaller and younger Scouts of the Troop; it has proved to be very adventageous, both to them and to the seniors.’

1917    ‘DC reported conversation with the Chief Scout and suggested a plan to the committee for increasing the number of senior scouts by attaching special scout patrols to the Local Volunteer Corps.’              District Minutes             This plan did not mature as the LVC were insufficiently interested or organised.

1917    In Cambridge in 1917 a Senior Scouts Club was organised for all Scouts.  In 1920 the Club was for Scouts over 15 and all PLs over 13.  Held at ‘the Albert’ (Institute) it had an annual fee of 1/-, later 1/6, and was open to Scouts not attached to a group.  At this date many boys left Scouts when they left school at 14.  The proposal ‘girl friends on invitation’, generated a ‘considerable difference of opinion’. 

SENIOR SCOUTS’. THE Senior Scouts’ Club has been closed this autumn, till we could find a new Supervisor. We are glad to say that S.M. J. Murrish has consented to undertake the work, and hope to open it in January. Scouts of 15 and over (and all P.L’s. of 13 and oval, who are full members of any Troops may join the Club by paying 1/6 a year. 4 Mr. Murrish is also going to run a Senior Scout Troop at the Albert for those who do not belong to any other Troop. They must be at least 15 years old, or have left school. We hope that it will be a great success, and that the Albert may become a real Scoutcraft Centre for Cambridge. Members of the Senior Club will be entitled to attend the Socials on Saturday evenings, as well as a certain number of classes, etc., which the Senior Troop hopes to throw open to them.   Reveille 1920

1921 The Scouting column in the local paper ran a competition asking for reports of camps. They split the competition into two, under and over 15, without giving the older group any distinguishing title. On other occasions the column describes them as older boys.

1927    District Minutes touch on a ‘Senior Scout Fund’, but without details.

1927 7th Cambridge (County School) Court of Honour proposes a ‘Senior patrol’. No further direct references are made but on lowering the age of entry to 12 three patrols were created for ‘new members’. At this time the HQ moved back into the school and the attached Rover Crew, probably of Old Boys, closed.

Activities for older Scouts within groups sometimes used the term Senior and senior patrols were arranged before the official permission. 

1936    The Sea Scout Senior Patrol; Its possibilities in Cambridgeshire       Cambs County Gazette           A proposal to keep older boys engaged with a switch to the all new Sea scouting at 15.

1939    The 55th Cambridge Minute book records ‘Second of Senior Patrol elected’ and elsewhere the 55th record a Senior camp and Senior Scouts.

A 1941 Commission on Post War Scouting sought views including ‘should there be a recognised scheme for Senior Scouts’.  Senior Scout patrols were formed and many articles and discussions appeared in The Scouter following the July 1942 Post War Commission report.

1943    DC drew attention to Senior Scout proposals in the May edition of the Scouter.  Several names were proposed for the new section, including Explorers. The Scouter Dec 1943.

1944 13th Cambridge started a Senior Patrol in October 26th 1944 with the full knowledge of the DC. No Patrol name is recorded. DC Howard Mallett wrote ‘I am glad that you are trying Senior Scouts. I am making the same venture.’ ‘ All of the dope about Senior Scouts and their distinguishing marks is in the new Senior Scout pamphlet.’ ‘ They should wear maroon shoulder straps. These are not supplied and the best thing you can do is ask them to let you have a maroon scarf and ask one of the mothers…’

1945    War Service Scouts ‘will cease as such after December 31st 1945 and will become known as Senior Scouts’.  Although Senior Scouts were not formally incorporated until October 1946 patrols existed and they were deemed to be ‘beyond the experimental stage’.  The Scouter July

1945    Senior Scouts Commenced in three troops    April District Minutes (in October two troops mentioned – 13th and 25th)

After 1946     

In 1946 older Scouts between 15 and 18 were formally able to start separate Senior Scout patrols as a separate branch. 

After 1946 trophies were sometimes split, one trophy for Senior Scouts and another for Scouts e.g. the Senior Morley.  The term was not always spelt out in documents.  From 1946 most badges had corresponding versions for those under and over 15 e.g. fire fighter and fireman. 

Senior Scout epaulette

The recording of overall numbers is not clear cut.  Between 1947 and 1960 the Census asked for

  • Scouts 10/11/12/13/14/15/16/17  years of age and
  • Senior Scouts 14/15/16/17 years of age. 

Between 1961 and 1966 they were more specific and asked for

  • Scouts and Senior Scouts   10/11/12/13/14/15/16/17
  • Senior Scouts in Separate Troops 14/15/16/17 years of age

In 1967 the ‘Separate Troop’ category was stopped and all Scouts were listed by age.

  • Scouts and Senior Scouts   10/11/12/13/14/15/16/17

Groups identifying separate Senior Scout patrols or Troops on the Census:

The early patchy reports (above) suggest a level of uncertainty that needed clarification.  Some early ‘Troops’ were of only 2 or 3 members.  The figures in 1961 (below) do not suggest a serious double counting: that is before 1961 Scouts over 15 were only counted as Senior Scouts if they were in separate Patrols or Troops.

A = Senior Scouts as listed on the Census.  After 1961 Senior Scouts in separate Troops.

B = Scouts of over 15 (Senior Scout age) not listed as being in separate Troops.

References elsewhere to Senior Scout patrols do not always reflect in the census numbers.  In the 1956 AGM report the 27th Senior Scouts were described as ‘on’, however, this is not reflected in the figures.  28th and 29th were also described as ‘on’ and the 14th ‘off’, which is seen in the returns.

Cambridge Archives

1944    District Min of November list SS patrols with 13th, 23rd, 64th 

1946    Committee to investigate effect of Senior Scouts on Trophies          District Exec

            5th Cambridge (Perse)             ‘Senior Scouting has been inaugurated this term’

1946    Senior Scout party       Held at Scott Polar institute

1948    19th listed as having SS but no returns in census

1951    A review of retention by age observed that the majority of Senior Scouts ’to be concentrated in a few group and particularly the Grammar School type of group’.   The four groups were the 5th Perse, 7th County School, 60th Leys and 12th.  These four Groups accounted for half to three quarters of the over 15 year olds. (7th Cambridge Senior Scouts 1958 – 1963 Below)

1952    Guest speaker at University meeting stressed that separation from the Troop was not an expected ideal.

1952 44th started a Senior Patrol of P/Ls and Seconds, which held a separate meeting but did not take the members away from the Troop meetings.

1957 – 1968 The 11th/9th Census returns for these years never list more than 5 boys aged 15 +. Some were listed as Senior Scouts and occasionally a smaller number as Scouts. At this era the Group as a whole was quite small, expanding later when Cubs were added in 1969.

1964    A  District Senior Scout Troop was registered in 1964 based at Perne Road and again in 1966.  They were recorded in the Census returns of 1965, 1966 and 1967 but no numbers were recorded for membership. This may be the ‘semi-official’ troop initiated by David Loades, previously of 5th and at Cambridge University through to his PhD. Bob Eden, also of the 5th, later joined him in what he described as an ‘experimental (and somewhat unofficial) group‘. This is likely to have been the 20th Cambridge, not recorded in official figures in the Census, possibly because all members were also part of Senior Scout Sections elsewhere. A number of unused 20th Cambridge nametags are in the 5th archives donation from Bob Eden.

1965    The 4th Cambridge formed a Senior Troop which met fortnightly.  The census figures might suggest that previously they had a Senior Patrol.  It is not known why 1965 has no return.

1967    Senior Scouts ended when Venture Units were started in 1967, Some overlap has been recorded with Senior Scout activity being noted in January 1968 alongside the growing local VS unit.

Senior Scout Badges

Senior Scouts had a separate set of badges which overlapped with some of the badges available to Scouts. A more complete breakdown of this over lap will be available later.

A Scout/ Senior Scout shirt from the 13th Cambridge St Phillip’s       Notts’ Own

  • Three year star (as Scout), Kingfisher Scout Patrol flash, Senior Scout epaulettes, Boy Scout Membership badge
  • Scout badges:              Marksman, Pioneer, Cook and Surveyor, Fire safety and First Aid, the last two groped together as ‘service’ badges.
  • Senior Scout badges:   Dispatch rider, Handyman (square)
  • First class Scout Award woven and bound

These woven and bound badges were issued between 1934 and 1967.  War time issue badges were different. 

A shirt showing Senior Scout ‘dispatch rider’ and ‘missioner’ badges and First Class Scout.

Patrol patch is for ‘Gino Watkins’.  See also article on Patrol names.

See also

  • Junior and Senior Post 27/1/2020
  • Last of the Senior Scouts

JWR Archivist Jan 2019