The Scouts’ Imperial Jamboree of 1924 and my Grandfather’s Involvement

A couple of weeks ago I got the opportunity to talk to my Father and his two siblings about their father Thomas Blair. There were lots of interesting stories that will be making their way onto this blog in the coming weeks.

One that caught my attention was the fact that he went to the Scout Jamboree in Wembley and danced before the Prince of Wales. My Grandfather was 16 years old and living in Glasgow at the time. He was a Rover-Scout with the 6th Glasgow Troop. He got the opportunity to attend the Jamboree along with thousands of other young men.

This Jamboree was the held about a week before the second International Scout Jamboree in Denmark but no one knew if my Grandfather attended the one in Denmark.

Eddie Stuart (left) Thomas Blair (right)

I spent Sunday afternoon searching online for information about the Jamboree and if there were any photographs or something that could tell me if he did dance before the Prince of Wales.

In the summer of 1924 the Imperial Exhibition was held to promote both pride and trade in the empire after the First World War. The Jamboree was held for a week at the beginning of the Exhibition.

The Head Scout Robert Baden Powell was there along with members of the Royal family.

There were about 12,500 Scouts attending the Jamboree and on a daily basis they used 75,000 gallons of water, 6,000 loaves of bread and 250 pounds of tea. The Lyons catering firm fed the boys at the cost of 3s 4d per head. You can find out more here.

I found a website that describes the “Eightsome Reel,” its history, how to perform it and it mentions the Imperial Jamboree of 1924. The Prince of Wales was in attendance around the campfire and the program had ended. It was dark but “kilts were seen to be moving” in preparation for the reel. Dancers, pipers and drummers entered the ring. The Prince of Wales was reported to have joined the Scouts in a dance. The Scouts were from Aberdeen. You can find out more here.

My Father remembers being told that his father performed a sword dance in the presence of the Prince of Wales during an evenings entertainment. It could be he was part of the official program mentioned above.

The real gem was found on the British Pathe archive website. I found a silent reel showing the opening of the Scouts’ Imperial Jamboree entitled “Sink Self In Service“. Near the end you see a large group of Scottish Scouts dancing in the field. Now if I could just figure out which one was my Grandfather.

The Boy Scout Association produced a souvenir book called “The Imperial Jamboree 1924” and a few copies are for sale on EBay but they were rather expensive. I checked WorldCat and found that the book was in six libraries. The libraries were in Nova Scotia, Texas, Virgina, Yorkshire, Oxford and Scotland. The problem is they are all for in library use only.

I am going to issue a challenge to my readers to help me find out more about the Imperial Jamboree of 1924. Do you have a copy of the souvenir book? Do you know someone who does? Does a library near you hold a copy? Can you help me find out more?

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

  1. Jim Wood’s avatar

    I have a copy of the church service held August 3, 1924 at Wembley.
    Also a copy of the guide book for the British Exhibition.
    Regards,
    Jim

  2. Ruth Blair’s avatar

    You are lucky to have those Jim. Thanks to a very generous friend I now have a copy of the souvenir book called “The Imperial Jamboree 1924.”

  3. Isbel Nebel’s avatar

    I have a copy of HYMN & SONG BOOK FOR SCOUTS Wembley 1924

    Front page has a write up and is signed F W C?????? (cannot read the rest.) It encourages the boys to remember to sing the old Scottish songs at the displays, and to “Remeber, you have come on a mission from Scotland; your mission is —-‘friendship'” Go down with your shout of “Scotland Forever” but show yourself modest and friendly with all. I cannot remember where I got the book, probably in a junk shop in Dundee that I used to frequent every time I went home
    How rare do you think it is. Surprisingly it is in good shape.

    Isbel
    Provincial Guildmaster
    BC Fellowship of Baden Powell Guilds
    Canada

  4. Ruth Blair’s avatar

    Hi Isbel,

    What a wonderful treasure you have. I don’t know how rare or expensive the books are. I would suggest a google search or searching websites that sell old books.

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