Our History

Guiding in Cheshire

When Baden- Powell began Scouts he little realised that girls would want to join in and that he would launch their own movement. The county of Cheshire at this time covered the areas from Derbyshire to the Wirral ( the ‘teapot’ county!) This short history only mentions units or places which involve our current county. Until the 1970’s all major events in Cheshire normally took place in Chester, often on the Roodee or at the Cathedral. For those of you who would like a fuller account of the history of guiding in Cheshire try to find a copy of The Trefoil and The Wheatsheaf, compiled by Marjory Corlett.

The beginnings to 1913

Among the first pioneers in the North West was a Miss Mary Royden. The earliest records show there were troops in Macclesfield with Captain G H Owen and in Alderley Edge with Miss Tipping and Miss Whyman. A Miss G Blundstone wrote ‘I joined the Alderley Edge Guide Company in 1909. We were then called The Baden-Powell Girl Guides. We were a large company of about 150 strong with one Captain and Lieutenant. The Patrol Leaders were like the present Guiders, their Seconds were known as Corporals and wore three stripes on their arms. We all wore khaki hats’

1st Alderley Edge Guides 1910 -1911. Third oldest company in the world
1st Alderley Edge Guides 1911

In Dec 1913 Miss Agnes Baden-Powell (B.P’s sister) ‘reviewed’ the Alderley Edge Company. The local Advertiser described it as ‘an epoch-making event which took place in the Wesleyan School… the company is the most efficient in the county’.

Companies in Cheshire were increasing in numbers and in June 1914 Miss Royden was asked to ‘undertake the Commissionership’ – it was pointed out that she already did the work ‘without the honour and rank’. Our first County Commissioner was appointed.

These were soon followed by companies in Stockport, Knutsford and Crewe. In 1913 three hundred Guides from Stockport met in the Town Hall to be inspected by Miss Royden. In 1919 Headquarters showed 42 companies registered – not a true record as many ran ‘unregistered’

War Service

1914 saw the start of the first World War and our Guides responded to the request ‘for every girl to serve her country’.

1st Bollington Guides took over a house and ran it as a convalescent home. They looked after the internal and domestic arrangements while a trained nurse took responsibility of the cases.

Handforth Guides, who were members of the V.A.D., were equipping a hospital as well undergoing message work, duty at the Red Cross Headquarters and tending fires to heat water. Alderley Edge Guides were doing needlework to raise money and the laundry work for the war Hospital run by the V.A.D. They prepared all the vegetables at the hospital, collected newspapers, made 700 garments for soldiers, delivered 5000 letters and circulars as well as rolling 3020 bandages!

The Girl Guide Market Garden was another branch of war work undertaken by them as Miss Whyman was associated with The Women’s Land Service Corps. In 1918 the girls went to camp to become flax pullers as flax was needed for making aeroplane wings. A film was made by the Gaumont Film Company of this company’s National Service.

Cheshire Girl Guides Company Rules were drawn up and these had a remarkable similarity to the later ‘Policy, Organisation and Rules’ issued by Headquarters. Has Cheshire always been in the forefront of developments? It would appear so.