Yate Heritage Centre: Scouts and Guides and the Great War

February 27 2019
Scouts and Guides and the Great War

YATE Heritage Centre has always prided itself on reflecting our rich local history through exhibition projects but occasionally less obvious themes emerge, which are nevertheless important to cover.

Over the years we have been open we have often skirted such themes as youth groups, opting instead to do the more conventional school themes. However, the Great War centenaries of the last few years have highlighted the significance of Guides, Scouts and similar groups in the area in the last 100 years, so 2019 will mark a major scout and guide display.

Naturally we will aim to reflect the evolution of local groups in the area and the impact they have had on the lives of local people. However, it is worth reminding ourselves of the early years of the youth group movements and the impetus the Great War gave to different troops.


Feature: The markets and fairs of Yate and Sodbury


The scouting story began in 1914. Olivia Burges, of Ridge House, Yate, played a leading role in encouraging youngsters to participate in community and military activity. Olivia set up the 1stChipping Sodbury scout troop in 1914, while her sister Joyce became the scout mistress.

Once war was declared, the scouts dedicated themselves to the war effort. Some scouts with bicycles carried messages to assist the loyal North Lancs Battalion in Sodbury, and also as part of the Aircraft Defence Scheme.

Scout troops also provided other practical assistance, not least making sandbags for soldiers at the front and knitting mufflers and mittens for those on minesweepers in the North Sea. More general local support involved organising concerts and jumble sales to raise funds, while older scouts at Winterbourne helped drive ambulances.

During these dramatic years there was a clear role for local scouts. It is also evident different groups have played a positive role in local society since, and have benefited and grown as individuals. There is a great story to tell and we will be working with local people in the forthcoming months in order to be able to tell it.


Picture shows Yate Scouts in around 1920