leslie's guiding traditions

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The first training centre was the 'Guide Officers' Training School', founded in London by Mrs Agatha Blyth, which was founded in London, but developed branches elsewhere in the UK too.  But - it was suddenly closed down, and Mrs Blyth's resignation announced - in the same paragraph it was announced that a new training school had been opened, led by Miss Maynard.  By 1921 there were four training schools - in the North of England, South of England, West of England, and Scotland.  But they were not full-time, and with Guiding's expansion within the UK and beyond, they were not adequate, nor were they ideally located or set up, so could be no more than stopgap.

So, with the sudden closure of the 'GOATS', a replacement was needed.  And the search for a location began.  


Finally, in 1921 there were rumours of a house in Hampshire which the owner might be willing to give to the Guides.  In some ways, the location did not exactly suit - a venue down on the south coast of the UK was anything but central for most UK Leaders.  But in an era where international travel was done by boat, a location near the main international port of Southampton had it's own advantages.  And as the first training centre, it was intended that it would cater for the world as well as for the UK.  


Mrs Archbold Saunderson's gift of her house, Foxlease, was generous - but the house was empty, and money would be needed to refurbish it.  At this point, generosity came from a slightly unexpected source - Princess Mary.  All the 'Marys' of the empire had been asked to contribute to a wedding present to her, and she opted to give £6000 of this money to Foxlease.  To that she added a further £4000 raised from the showing of her wedding presents.  The next question was furnishing, but Counties and Countries came to the rescue by sponsoring rooms, and raising the money to set up their name, with their name on it's door.


The first major event held there was the World Camp, from 16th to 23rd July 1924, organised by Mrs Janson Potts.  It ran alongside the World Conference which was being held inside the house, and was attended by over 1000 Guides of many countries, in sub-camps of 24 each hosted and equipped by a different UK County.  

Following the opening of a training centre in the south of England, there was enthusiasm for establishing an equivalent in the north of England.  The localities being considered were Carnforth, Keighley, and Skipton.  The Garnett family had owned Waddow Hall since the 1850s, but unfortunately, due to a recession affecting their cotton mill at Low Moor, they were forced to put the estate on the market in 1927.  The Guides rented the estate for a year, with first option to buy at the end of that period if the fundraising should prove successful.  Guides around the UK and beyond worked to raise the money, and the opening ceremony was held on 1st October 1927, performed by H.R.H. The Princess Royal.  The £9000 was soon raised, and the final deeds handed over on 16th October 1928.  During World War 2, Waddow was lent to Lancashire County Council, for them to use as an isolation hospital for children.  The Brownie House first opened in 1952, and was extended and altered several times before being replaced in the 1990s.  Six camp sites were also developed - Canada, North Riding, Cragg Wood, Horseshoe, Wade's Hill, and Hilltops.

Prior to World War 2, there were various training camps and training series held in Scotland, but for residential training, Scottish Leaders had to head south to Waddow or Foxlease.  With the roads and rail services of the time, this could be a long journey indeed.  So Scotland had long been looking for a venue to develop a training centre.  It was in December 1944 that Major E. G. Thomson rented the house to Scottish Guiding for a nominal rent of 2s. 6d. per year.  In March 1952 he offered it to Scottish Guiding for a further 2s. 6d.  The first training was held in April 1945.  With furnishing hard to come by due to wartime shortages, each room was adopted by a different Scottish Guiding County, who arranged for the furnishing, a tradition maintained to modern times.  It's famous landmark, the whale's jawbone arch, is located at the end of the middle drive.  As well as the main training centre, there are campsites.  The original Brownie House was located in the walled garden of the main house, and was replaced by the Garden House in the early 2000s.  In the 1980s and 1990s a potting shed was converted into a Ranger Bothy; this was closed when it became difficult to maintain.  In recent years a range of activities have been installed in the grounds, along with a large 'wet weather shelter' to provide activity space for campers to do active activities in inclement conditions.

Broneirion was built in 1864 for Welsh Industrialist, David Davies.  In 1940 Davies, by then Lord Davies, offered the house to Gordonstoun school, which was based in the house throughout the war.  Meantime, in 1944 Lord Davies died, as did his son Edward.  His widow, Lady Davies, was a supporter of Guiding, and when she heard that Guides Cymru were looking for a possible venue for a training centre, she offered Broneirion.  It became the training centre in 1946, and was opened by Olave Baden-Powell in 1947.  For many years, the pavilion on the hillside was used as the Brownie holiday house.  In 1992, after a major fundraising campaign, Guides Cymru were able to buy the house and estate.  It's campsite, Cae Gwenllian, was purchased in 1994.  

Built in the Scottish Baronial style in 1875 by Henry Campbell, Lorne House takes its name from the hereditary home of the Campbell Clan in Scotland.


In 1946 Girlguiding Ulster purchased the house, which was officially opened by Her Grace, The Duchess of Abercorn in 1947.  Having seen many improvements in recent years, the estate now contains the main house, the coach house, the conference centre, the Marion Greeves house, the Ranger Cottage, and several campsites.  As well as being the training centre, it is also the headquarters of Girlguiding Ulster, and houses the shop.


Hautbois was built in the 1850s, and early in the 1900s it was bought by Frank Patteson.  He had lived for a time in Suffolk, where his elder children Philippa and John were born; following some building work to improve the house, the family moved into the house in 1906.  Mrs Patteson was the main manager of the family - Philippa, /john and Beth - and it was she who started the Coltishall Guide Company, especially for Philippa, who had gone blind at the age of 9.  Though her husband died in 1919, she lived until 1954.  None of the children married; John died of leukaemia in 1960 aged 56.  Beth had gone away to boarding school, but rather than go to university, she returned home to look after her sister.  She became the Red Cross Commandant, and served as VAD during World War 2.  After the war she became County Commissioner, and County Camp Adviser.  

It was in 1984 that the sisters gave their house and grounds to Anglia Guides, with a wish that it might be used as a training centre.  Anglia agreed to take on the challenge, and fundraised to pay for modernisation and remodelling.  The official opening was held on 28th May 1988 by Mrs Betty Clay, youngest daughter of Robert Baden-Powell.

Pax Hill was the Baden-Powells' house in Bentley, Hampshire, from after WW1, until shortly before WW2 when Robert and Olave moved to Kenya.  It was requisitioned by the army during the war, hence when Olave returned to Britain during the war, she initially had no home, before being allocated a grace and favour apartment in Hampton Court Palace, London.  When Pax Hill was returned after the war, Olave gave it to the Girl Guides Association to be used as a residential domestic science training centre.  Live-in courses were arranged for groups of young school leavers.  But it was difficult to make it pay, and in 1953, with Olave's agreement, the house was sold, becoming first a boarding school, and later a nursing home for the elderly.