Our History

GirlguidingBSG has a rich history having been part of the local Bristol and South Gloucestershire (or Avon) community for over 100 years.

The first Guide unit was registered in Bristol on the 11 August, 1910 and closely followed by the first Brownies (or in those days Rosebud), Land, Sea and Air Rangers units and finally Rainbows in 1987. We have come along way since then, and now have a wide network of units filled to the brim with girls and volunteers across the County.

County Badges

Our County is unique, and our County Badge and County Standard reflects this!

Our original County Badge is a lozenge shape which includes an image of an old Bristol castle with a sailing boat in the background. This is to reflect Bristol’s strong maritime history.

Our current County Sea Stag badge, signifies Bristol’s strong links with Sea and Country. The Sea Stag is also the badge of the Police and Fire Service in the county.

A Timeline of GirlguidingBSG

Below you will be able to see some of the notable events and milestones in GirlguidingBSG’s history! If you know any more about our History, or have any photos to share, our History volunteers would love to know. Please get in touch with them by emailing photos@girlguidingbsg.org.uk.

5 June 1920 Bristol’s first Council Houses in Hillfields Park: On this date, the Girl Guides and Boy Scouts escorted delegates from all over the world from Staple Hill railway station to Hillfields Park to view the demonstration area of the new Homes for Heroes. 

1940s Fire Engine: GirlguidingBSG joined a big fundraising effort to raise money for essential equipment and a fire engine to assist the war effort.

1957 County Pageant: We believe this was BSG’s first pageant, “The Golden Trefoil”, held at Colston Hall (now known as The Beacon) to mark the 100th birthday of Lord Baden Powell. Another was held in the 1990s in Whitchurch.

1959: Lady Olave Baden Powell Tour.

1960 Refugee Family: A Polish refugee family, the Klosckos, was sponsord by Girlguides as part of World Refugee Year. A rundown council house was given to GirlguidingBSG and we revamped it to support the family. Some Guiders are still in touch with them.

1960 Guide Conference: This international conference, called Panormama, was held at Bristol University. We also believe a large campfire was held at Wills Hall.

1971 West Division Headquarters: This started out as a Guide Hut for Shirehampton Guide Unit in 1971. After a rebuild it was taken over by Avonside District. This was opened by Betty Clay, daughter of Lady Olave Baden Powell, who made a return visit on its 21st birthday.

1973 Charter Rally: Held at a University Hall and attended by Betty Clay, daughter of Lady Olave when Bristol became Avon.

1982 First joint Scout and Guide Jamboree: Held at Dyrham Park.

1990s County Show: This show was organised to raise money for the Wallace & Gromit Appeal to help build the New Children’s Hospital.

South West Region Camp: This was held at Badminton, we think on Badminton Airfield and run by Anne Donnell. Doris Ward was the County Commissioner. Campers came from all over the South West and even internationally!

12 May 1996 Walking the Second Severn Crossing: On this date, a great deal of money was raised to enable the purchase of our campsite at Briarlands.

2000 Millennium Service: To mark the Millennium, GirlguidingBSG held a service at the Colston Hall.

2001 Division Performances: Since 2001, Divisions have all put on a performance linked together by a core team and a “spider”.  This led on to one unit doing a pantomime every year – and they have just celebrated 20 years in 2021.

County Eisteddfod: A big event that used to be held annually. There was a trophy for this. Organised by the Music and Arts Advisers and held at Red Maid’s School. All sorts of music, dancing and singing, including campfire singing, were included. This led on to many Guides performing a Division (we think North West) Gang Show in St Michael’s & All Angels in Bishopston in Ralph Reader style. Scouts became interested and joined in and this let to all joining together to produce the Gang Show at the Hippodrome.

Boating – Guides & Scouts: Several boat houses have been used since Girlguiding’s was started in 1910, but we have now settled into the Benjamin Perry Boathouse at Phoenix Wharf.

Joint Activities: Under the joint leadership of a husband-and-wife team for Scouts and Guides, Alan & Elizabeth Cross, many joint activities began to be held. Jamborees, camping, boating and the Gang Show.

Big Events: All major birthdays, anniversaries and events have been celebrated at County level. Very large services for special occasions, anniversaries, and celebrations were usually held at Colston Hall, Ashton Park and Bristol Zoo.