Be Prepared – scouts and guides in Yate

June 25 2019
Be Prepared – scouts and guides in Yate

View from Yate Heritage Centre

AS you read this article, the Be Prepared exhibition on the history of local scout, guide and other youth groups will be in full swing. Such groups often reflect the communities in which they exist and the strength of that community. Today, although there are numerous distractions and options for local families, it is gratifying that both parents and children take an interest in positive activities beyond the school gate.

From our own research it is clear that scouts and guide packs have always played a significant role in local communities. Iris Parfitt, formerly of Old Sodbury, recalls the impact on Old Sodbury in the 1940s and early 1950s. Nearly all her friends in the village joined the brownies and the guides. The pack cemented community ties. The groups took part in many of the local events, such as gymkhanas and fetes. Local middle-class women and farmer’s wives became leaders or offered practical support. Community cohesion was also enhanced by better-off families providing funds for poorer children to buy uniforms.


Guides in the 1950s. Iris Hudd


Guides in the 1950s. Picture: Iris Parfitt

Naturally, activities for girls were traditional by the standards of today. Hostess entertaining, child nursing, making beds, household and laundry chores were de rigueur. Other practical skills included first-aid and stargazing, although the latter involved turning out lights due to the blackout during the Second World War.

Although many packs followed the rules and regulations decreed from on high, there was room for innovation. In the 1980s, the 1st Yate cub scouts pack introduced washing and ironing skills for youngsters, on top of the traditional campsite and craft skills. Domestic skills, of course, were normally thought the preserve of girl guides.

The 1st Yate cub scouts were also the first pack nationally to go abroad. And what adventures they had! The group went to Bad Salzdetfurth in Germany as part of the Yate Twinning Association set-up. On the 1989 trip, they visited the old border between East and West Germany. However, they went a little too close for comfort. The cubs were taken to see the border fence and machine gun nest. An international incident was almost caused as West German soldiers came in trucks to warn them off. The Berlin wall was to come down 3 months later, and cub leaders indulged the rumour that the cub group had helped lead to that dramatic event.

Be Prepared opens on June 27.

Dairy dates:


June 27-August 13, Be Prepared – The Scouts, Guides and Brigades of the Yate and Sodbury area: Discover the rich history of some of the scouts, guides and similar groups in the area. Uniforms, accessories and musical instruments feature from many of the groups.


July 13, 10.30am-4.30pm, Here Come the Tudors: Full day of demonstrations, displays and hands-on activities for people of all ages. Tudor hunting and military displays, crafts, food and even rat catching. Displays and tours in the church. Early Tudor music and Elizabethan-style entertainment throughout the day. Refreshments from the Friends of YHC.


July 17, 7.30pm, Yate Archaeology Group trip: The Archaeology of Brandon Hill, Bristol, with Dr Phil Rowe. Ring for prices.


July 23, 7.30pm, Yate Lecture Series – The Brass Industry of Bristol and Bath in the 19th century: £2 admission or free for Friends of YHC. Funded by Friends of YHC.

Main picture: The 1st Yate Scout group 21st birthday celebrations, 1981. Photo courtesy of Irene Barnard