Tag Archives: Brownies

Free Time : Brownies and Guides, and a special occasion

Guides and Brownies

The thing I loved most of all when I was young was Guides and Brownies. When I first joined the Brownies, a remarkable lady called Mrs Hans Hamilton was in charge of all Brownie and Guide things. She was Brown Owl and the Guides always called her Madam, as I believe she was also District Commissioner.

Now in those days, each meeting that we had was stopped for a minute or two as she inspected us to see that our uniforms were as near perfect as possible. First you wore a hat. If you had long hair it had to be plaited or tied back off your collar. Ties at that time were made out of a shiny shaped material folded and tied at the back of your neck with a reef knot. The idea of this shaped tie was if someone hurt their arm the tie could be unfolded and used as a sling. Then there was the Brownie or Guide badge made of brass, and they had to be polished until they shone. Belts and shoes had to be polished as well and the shoes had to be black or brown with white socks or brown stockings. May be that seems a lot of fuss now, but we were proud of our uniforms and to make them look smart was a challenge. The Guide and Brownie activities were so numerous it would take for ever to relate them all, but the story I’m now going to tell, I’m doing so in the hope that someone may be able to remember what this occasion was.

There was some sort of parade that took part on Yarmouth Quay. Mary Lord (nee Hayles) and I were told as senior Sixers in the Brownies that we were to be very smart and represent the Brownie pack. I know we lined up with a few Guides and Scouts, Red Cross and all sorts of other people in uniforms. A gent, who I understand was an Admiral, and two other gents walked along the line looking at us. This went on for a long time and when it was at last over, we were taken out to a large Naval boat off the Common. We all stood along the side of the ship when someone blew a whistle. I later found out it was called a Bosun’s whistle. Then a loud voice yelled ‘Muster on the upper deck!’ and everyone moved. Several sailors showed us the way.
Now I thought they said ‘Mustard’, like you eat. I could not make out why they would have this on the deck. I looked around and of course could not see any. So I said to Mary, ‘I can’t see any mustard, can you? Why would they put it on the deck?’
Mary was the daughter of Harold Hayles the boat builder and what Mr Hayles didn’t know about any boat was not worth knowing. Mary said, ‘Don’t be so daft’ and then explained to me what it meant. I did feel daft! Then a lot of talking went on and prayers were said and hymns sung. I can’t remember what happened after this. I think we went home. If anyone has any ideas what this was all about it would be nice to know. My husband Norman thinks it must have been the end of war celebrations, as in the war we would not have been taken out to the ship. If anyone knows about this it would be lovely to hear.
Delia Whitehead nee Hunt b 1934

WWII Brownies War Effort: Delia Whitehead

During the war, I was in the Brownies and we joined in with the War Effort. Our Brown Owl had a car with an old wooden trailer at the back. We had to go to each house in turn in Yarmouth to collect waste paper. Sometimes there were a few comics that we used to “borrow” when Brown Owl wasn’t looking, and bring them back at the next collection. They were tucked up our Brownie dresses and the belts tied tightly. One day, somebody’s fell out and Brown Owl was not pleased! We never borrowed any comics again.

Brownies 1940s

Brownies outside the White House, Yarmouth Common 1940s Pat Burt nee Adams extreme left
Photo: Pat Burt

Delia Whitehead nee Hunt b 1934

Mary Lord: Free Time Guides Pantomimes 1950s

Front of stage Mrs. Hans Hamilton, writer and producer, with Sam McDonald who provided music for Guides and Brownies' pantomimes.

Front of stage Mrs. Hans Hamilton, writer and producer, with Sam McDonald who provided music for Guides and Brownies’ pantomimes.

The concerts and pantomimes  arranged by Mrs. Hans Hamilton and Win Davison were a really important part of our lives. By the time we were ready to put them on, it was often Easter.  Rangers, Guides and Brownies were always involved, music and dancing.  Effie was usually the principal boy, with Mollie Mallett – they both had good singing voices. By the time we actually gave the performance, I was usually word perfect for the whole play, everyone’s part. Mary Lord nee Hayles b 1936

Eileen Smith: Free Time, Brownies and Guides 1930s

Eileen Smitth , Effie Pitman:Brownies at Wootton 1929

Eileen Smitth , Effie Pitman:Brownies at Wootton 1929

My aunt was one of the original Girl Guides and I joined the Brownies. The year after I joined, we had a coach trip to Wootton to meet up with other Brownie groups. Effie was there too.
On Armistice Day and Empire Day at school, we were allowed to wear our uniform. There was a big British Legion then too, and they used to have an important Armistice Day ceremony. One year I was the flag bearer for the guides, I was so proud.

On summer evenings, we used to go down to Rofford’s Field, and cut out a turf and make a campfire to cook our supper. Oh it was lovely! We used to wade in the marsh, sometimes with the mud right over our wellingtons, and collect moorhen’s eggs to cook.  They were like pullets’ eggs, gorgeous. There weren’t coots, only moorhens. Eileen Smith