Scout Tents

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Traditional tents have altered over the years with better and more permanent waterproofing, often thicker canvases and the more usual use of fly sheets. Few are as prone to drip through at a touch as was once the experience.

The tents below from the 1930’s are clearly thinner, these are single skinned and without ridge poles. Thinner versions still become harder to pitch.

The Scouter of 1931 advertised Rover hike tents of various materials – White material @ 14/9, 8oz Cotton Duck @16/6 and 8oz Green proofed Cotton Duck @ 21/6.

They required regular work on the waterproofing – 55th accounts 1935      ‘1½ lbs. each of sugar of lead and alum for waterproofing tents’ See Home/ Activities/ Dated phrases and events

Not all camps were under ‘Patrol’ tents and cycle camps also used lightweight tents. Again from the Scouter 1931: Australian Bivoauc Sheets (In two pieces to button up) 5’6” roof, 8’6” along the ground, 6’6” wide, 3’6” high, weighing 5lb 6 oz for 22/6 (£1/2/6). Poles were extra (1/10) suggesting that it could be constructed with scout staff, hedgerow cuttings or strung up from the apex.

From Cambridgeshire Collection A J Covell Album 1934

1931    ‘Dusty and I had a couple of Bivouac sheets which buttoned along the top and used our staffs as poles’   Ken North 

What appears to be two ‘halves’. 7th Cambridge 1940’s

Many tents were hired. Ken North recalled of 1926 ‘We had (as usual) hired tents from Clement Jones. This firm must have been, I think, a forerunner of E H Price & Co as their base was at the same part of St Barnabus Road. I know that one of these which we used for for feeding etc. had a white panel in each section about two feet long, it was not too watertight.’

Labelled ‘Norwich’ in use by 9th Cambridge in Norfolk 1913

Those that were permanently camouflaged during both wars were presumably Scout property. See Local History/ WW1 WW2/ Camouflaged Tents.

Light weight canvas, no fly or ridgepole c. late 1930’s – 1940’s
Brailed tent, Cambridgeshire Collection 7th Cambridge 1938

The tent below was clearly that of the Woodpigeon Patrol. It is interesting that they felt the need for both the badge and the name.

Cambridgeshire Collection 7th Cambridge 1938
13th Cambridge 1938
13th Cambridge c 1938

The unusual tent below is construed from a large canvas tarpaulin and possibly foraged poles. It appears to be in use as a store tent.

Cambridgeshire Collection 7th Cambridge c
Undated. ‘Found’ or foraged poles

1946 60th Cambridge report ‘light weight tents’ and ‘hikes of up to 14 miles’ for Senior Scouts.

1948 12th Cambridge 1st Cambridge ‘our tents were ex US army, including the two man bivouacs, which were great for hiking. We rolled them up on top of our khaki rucksacks. We had entrenching tools, search lights, Morse key equipment and fantastic one-man billy cans. We even had US Army K rations which we were still eating years after the war had finished.’

1948 60th Cambridge Hired tents from the Army for a camp (two of which leaked)

2nd Cambridge 1950’s

1953 60th Cambridge OL (Old Leysians) Rovers winter camp ‘One of our hike tents was adapted for winter camping and pitched at Styhead Pass.’ (Lake District below Scarfell pike)

13th Cambridge A ‘new style’ tent, a prize from the 1970’s

Ken North recalls helping erect a bell tent for a Guide group ‘post war’, probably c 1950 – 1954, which was dated 1918. It retained paint on the guy runners and was in good condition. The 28th Cambridge retain some well used and worn patrol tents of 40 + years old, now thin and with numerous repairs. Little used of late, they have been replaced with new versions, they will stand a summer camp yet.

As in 1930’s Troops hired tents in by 1970’s Troops were hiring tents out. The 11th/9th hired patrol tents and equipment for some years to Fulbourn Hospital.

A full range of modern and traditional gear is now used; groups selecting as funds and experience dictates. The robust, warm and communal patrol tents for static and longer camps, light weight hike tents and tarps and hammocks for expeditions and shorter camps.

28th Cambridge Static 2019 Summer camp from which overnight expedition camp was carried out, with modern hike tents.

JWR Archivist Sept 2019