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SCOUT TREKCART - A SHORT HISTORY
(see Photo Album) & (How to build one!)

TrekcartPartsSm.jpg (97371 bytes) Download A4 .pdf copy of the above.

The humble Scout Trekcart started life, as much of Scouting did, like uniform, traditions and equipment, in Baden Powell's military past. Think of the KHAKI uniform (Khaki in the Urdu or Hindi language literally means 'dust coloured' - it was used as camouflage in India). Think of the BELL TENT, and the WIDE BRIMMED HAT, camp ovens, semaphore signalling, tracking and much more....

...The TREK CART was widely used by the military around the 1st World War and beyond, to carry munitions and equipment to the battlefield. From the start of Scouting in 1907 to as late as the 1950's Scouts in UK and some other countries adopted the Trekcart for more peaceful uses, that of seeing them to camp, loaded with tents and equipment. The cart was pulled by two Scouts on the main pulling bar, with two or three more on each side pulling at the ropes hitched to the wheels. Some enterprising Scouts lashed bicycles to the Trekcart for an easier life. Pedal power had arrived.

The very welcome tow bar and car trailer eventually took over and the faithful Trekcart slowly took a back seat. It was, however, not goodbye. Many original Trekcarts still survive, and many have been refurbished. They have been used as saluting bases for parades, for collecting clothing and blankets in many emergencies, and every year can be seen at annual Trekcart races and competitions, the most hilarious being the Monty Python's Flying Trekcart event of 2002.

When I came to England and settled in Prestbury in 1974, the first Group I joined was 1st Prestbury. Two cart wheels and some metal bits and pieces pointed to the fact that 1st Prestbury had owned one of these precious Trekcarts. With the help of the Venture Scouts the cart was re-built and served the Group and District very well. It was used for collecting clothes for charity appeals, and also as a saluting base at St George's day Parades in Cheltenham town centre. Many a mayor stood precariously on the base and took the salute as Scouts proudly marched past. In the late 80's 1st Prestbury found storage of the Trekcart was becoming a problem and Shurdington took it over on behalf of Cheltenham District. 

It now requires refurbishment again, especially the two cart wheels. A new coat of paint is also in need and some metal fittings are missing. The newly invested Explorer Scouts proudly wheeled it out of 'mothballs' in July 2004, and look forward to bringing life back into this wonderful, and still useful, piece of memorabilia. It was used for collecting scores of blankets for Kosovo in  1999 from Shurdington's generous residents.

Photographs.....

TrekCigCardBk.jpg (169648 bytes) Original Ogdens Cigarette Cards, a series of 50, showing Scouting activities.
No. 28 - Trek Cart off to summer camp.

TrekCigCardFr.jpg (156087 bytes)

SOME WEBSITES with references to Trekcarts:

http://www.netwoods.com/d-equipment.html#trek%20carts

http://www.etcetra.org.uk/site/sections/archive/tc2002/yourTC/How%20to%20Build%20A%20Trek_pdf.pdf

http://dovergrammar.co.uk/archives/Old-photos/1913trek-cart.html

http://www.btinternet.com/~tenth.belfast/19401949.htm

http://www.scouting.milestones.btinternet.co.uk/scouts.htm

http://www.sgsc.org.uk/chairnote/chairnote255.htm

http://www.globusz.com/ebooks/Scoutmastership/00000036.htm

http://www.thesiger.co.uk/about.shtml

http://www.scoutnet.org.uk/cgi-bin/newboard/conffns.pl?function=showmessage&messageid=1083448713-6819&board=scoutnet&boardkeywords=

http://www.gosportscouts.org.uk/Resources/images/district/districtcamp2003041.jpg

http://www.angelfire.com/sc/matabeles/troops/8thcubs/cub_trek_cart.html

http://www.pinetreeweb.com/1920-wj1-tjb-06.htm

http://www.dlscouts.ie/melvin.html

http://www.dlscouts.ie/regcomps.html

http://website.lineone.net/~bentley.scouts/Trek_Cart_1999.htm

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/BMLSS/AVB64.html

http://www.scoutingmagazine.org/issues/0109/d-wwas.html

http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/native/totem/camp_uses.htm

http://www.aislingmagazine.com/aislingmagazine/articles/TAM23/Theological.html

http://www.ecoates.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/janus/whj/8j55pt2.htm = extract below...

THREE DAYS WITH A TREK-CART

EXCEPT FOR the two tow ropes of the trek-cart breaking, we began our trek in the typically English county of Hertfordshire without a hitch. That day we covered about 10 miles, our route taking us from our base camp through Borley, Great Chishill and Heydon, to our camp in a field by Park Wood, Chishill.

Our first stop was at Great Chishill for lunch, where Godfrey, our second in command, joined us in his car, which he was taking with him as he had to leave us on the morning of the third day.

After we had finished our lunchtime orgies most of us went and looked round the village church. It is interesting to note that in the 13th century complaints were made to the Bishop of London that the profits of the church were too small. The stipend was 640 p.a., the expenses 128 p.a., leaving 512 p.a. profit! These days many town churches consider themselves lucky to recover their expenses.

When at length we managed to get going again, Godfrey left his mechanised conveyance on the piece of land where we had consumed our food and accompanied us on foot.

We next stopped at Heydon, where we watched its church, which was bombed in the war, being rebuilt. Heydon is a very picturesque village, for until a few years ago it had all been owned by an eccentric squire who would allow no trees to be cut down or modern conveniences to be instituted in his village.

At last we staggered to our site for the night, and while a one-man party went to recover his car, the rest pitched camp.

When we went to get water at the nearby farm we were informed that the wood, 90 acres in extent, contained every kind of English wild animal (also millions of mosquitoes) except badgers and campers. The latter deficiency, unfortunately, was not remedied during our stay. Among these denizens of the wild were about 30 deer, over seven fox families, and a large colony of red squirrels. As an added attraction a few dozen people each year are reputed to get lost in it.

When this interesting and enlightening conversation had finished we went back to the camp, which had been waiting nearly half an hour for water. After the unfortunate water-carriers had narrowly escaped death at the hands of their irate brother trekers, they were forced to cook the supper and make the cocoa.

While we were all getting pleasantly drunk on cocoa our tranquil (or otherwise) thoughts were rudely interrupted by a sound somewhat like a dustbin rolling downhill. When we rushed out to the hardened mud track we observed that Godfrey had returned. After he had descended from his car and got his hands round a dixie of cocoa, he informed us that he had found his most treasured possession in an even more dilapidated condition than he had left it. The doors were open, the headlights on, the bonnet open and the leads disconnected. It was generally agreed, except in one irate corner, that the miscreants must have thought it had been dumped. At length, when we had all finished our frugal supper we walked through the wood by the track to Elmsdon. As it was a dark night and Elmsdon has over four pubs, we were, unfortunately, unable to keep track of every adult member of the party. In spite of this fact we all managed to return safely.

The next morning, after thanking the land's owner, we left. As the farm nearby was a poultry farm we managed to take 15 eggs with us when we departed.

Our route that day took us through Duddenhoe End, Duddenhoe Grange, Upper and Lower Langley, to New England, where we camped not far from the lake. Although our site was only 41/2 miles from Park Wood we treked 11 to reach it.

After leaving Park Wood we divided into two parties. Most people went via Elmsdon, while one small, self-sacrificing volunteer group took the trek cart by the road. Those selfish, self-centred, inactive, unwilling and sensible people who went via Elmsdon saw little but pubs and houses, while those martyrs who took the trek cart saw much of interest, including an extremely large dried up moat surrounding nothing, not even ruins, Chrishall Church, which is of the Early Perpendicular style and contains Rubens' picture "Adoration of The Magi", and last, but not least, a dead rat.

When we all joined up again we continued along the road with our usual brisk efficiency until lunch-time, which came conveniently upon us when we were outside the Bull Inn, which had the village green nicely situated outside it. Upon this we consumed our meal. While most of us recovered from stuffing our capacious stomachs to their uttermost capacity, the rest, in number, one, discovered that the metal boards of the signpost would, with a little assistance, revolve.

We left the vicinity of the Bull Inn at 2 o'clock and reached our site a little after four.

"It is quite a good site except that we have to go a short way for water," said our leader - (two miles there, two miles back.) "Its main asset is the fact that it has plenty of dead wood handy." he continued, and after we had pitched camp, sent us off through a natural row of thorn, holly and blackberry bushes into the "forest" to get the required quantity of this necessary commodity. It was not until an hour later that we had gathered sufficient wood and rediscovered the camp. Round the campfire a set of misguided oafs wanted to walk the nine miles back to camp that night, and have a lovely midnight walk (they forgot the trek-cart), through the freezing, cold night, after treking 11 miles that day, and have the fun of striking and repitching camp in the dark. Eventually, however, common sense prevailed, and most of us managed to get our regular eight hours' beauty sleep.

Next morning we said goodbye to Godfrey, and after he had disappeared in a cloud of smoke and dust, we packed up everything except our washing and bathing kit, and went down to the lake for a swim. After a while orthodox amusements began to pall, and as campers have a crude sense of humour we got much enjoyment out of pushing each other in. The fun, however, ceased when Bob, our leader, pulled those who were pushing him in (all of us) with him. Then we got dressed and departed for our home camp at "Half-Moon Wood."

After a short stop at Borley to revive our flagging spirits with a bottle of coca-cola (which refreshes and revives), and with our remaining provisions, we carried on in two groups. One party went by road with the trek-cart and reached the rendezvous first; the other party took the short cut across the fields.

Nothing else eventful happened except that three inert cadgers got a lift in a Jaguar Mark VII.

After that we entered camp in what we called a state of triumph, and what the rest of the camp called the last stages of decrepitude.

B. PHELPS (IVB).

http://members.aol.com/brlscouts/burlhist.htm

http://www.nescouts.org.uk/archives/1Nhistory1989.htm

http://www.claygatescouts.org/our_history.htm

http://www.vectis.co.uk/auctiondet.php3?item_id=63715&retPage=240102

http://www.scouter.com/archives/scouts-l/199908/0675.asp

http://www.postcardworld.co.uk/cards/subject/socialhist/trek.jpg

http://irelandsown.net/nafianna.htm = The military use.

http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=%22trek+cart%22&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&start=80&sa=N

http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=%22trek+cart%22&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&start=80&sa=N

http://www.glenosmondscoutgroup.asn.au/history.cgi

http://www.shrekcart.co.uk/

http://7thmalden.org/html/vsu/vsuweb/3_FamilyCamp01_Photos2.htm

http://www.thetoybox.4t.com/britainsscoutencampment.html = Toy figurines

http://www.scoutscan.com/songs/t/tsong218.html = Trekcart Song

http://www.liveauctioneers.com/auctions/ebay/429690.html

http://www.users.waitrose.com/~khood/pages/archive_col1.htm = Pictures

 

Copyright 1998-2004 Paul Calleja-Gera - All rights reserved.

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