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Tipton reader's girl guide memories

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: August 18, 2014

By Dan Shaw

Tipton Girl Guides camping at Dudmaston Hall in 1951

Tipton Girl Guides camping at Dudmaston Hall in 1951

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WE have further memories of the 3rd Tipton Girl Guides from Mrs I. Holmes of Tipton. She read our feature in the July 17 edition which included extracts from Hilda Francis' account of the group, Memoirs of a Tipton Girl Guide Company.

Hilda set up the troop in 1938 at Princes End Baptist Church and ran it until dwindling numbers forced the group to dissolve in 1974.

Mrs Holmes writes, "I was a guide in the 3rd Tipton Girl Guides. I remember the captain, Hilda, and her sister.

"There used to be a car park at the side of the church. One Saturday morning we had to go there for a test.

"Each one of us was given two matches and told to make a fire with twigs, which were lying around, and fry and egg. If the matches went out before the fire was alight you did not pass. Most of us passed.

"We also went camping somewhere near Wolverhampton. One day while there we did another test. The captain split us into groups of three or four girls.

"Each group was given a compass and she took us out into the countryside somewhere and left us to find our way back to the campsite. I remember there were lots of fields with sheep. It took us most of the day to get back.

"At night we took it in turns to cook and then sat singing round the campfire.

"On Saturday while camping we went into the town and bought cakes and pop and crisps. That night we had a midnight feast in our tent.

"We must have made a noise laughing because the captain let the tent down and we had to put it up again in the middle of the night.

"One day we went to a jamboree. I've forgotten where it was but it was in an airplane hangar. There were 100s of girl guides and scouts there and we had a great time.

"Those were happy days; thank you for bringing back these happy memories."

Sadly, Hilda does not mention these events in her memoir but the following extract describes the 3rd Tipton Guides' first camp at Dudmaston Hall, near Quatt, Shropshire, in 1951.

"We were informed that Scouts had camped there before, but never Guides, so we created a precedent. Dudmaston had one advantage over Apley Park – it had a pool. Guides, however, were not allowed to bathe unless there was one present who had passed a Life-saving badge. Fortunately, one of our guides, Barbara Jenkins, had. It would not have been easy to drown there anyway, as it was shallow. The water was very cold, but this didn't deter the guides.

"There was also a old flat-bottomed boat which they found to be great fun.

"We had heavy rain one night and discovered next morning that one of the tents had leaked, but the guides in it had evacuated themselves into another one, and had done it so quietly that only those in the tent to which they went knew about it.

"We held camp-fires in a little hollow below the camp, and coming back up the slope from the camp-fire one night I looked up at the full moon and said 'Just look what a lovely moon' then put my foot in a rabbit-hole and measured my length in the grass! That took some living down.

"It was at Dudmaston that a few chickens appeared one day and wandered across to where the cooks were preparing food. One of the cooks was heard to address a chicken with the words 'If yo don't shift I'll jab yer threw yer wazzin.' A good bit of Black Country !"

Please share your memories and photographs of Girls Guides in the Black Country. Contact dshaw@blackcountrybugle or drop us a line at 41 High Street, Cradley Heath, B64 5HL, or log on to www.blackcountrybugle.co.uk

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