Work starts on long-awaited archive centre for Girlguiding Norfolk

Turf cutting for the new Girl Guiding Norfolk Archive resource centre in Coltishall by county commis

Turf cutting for the new Girl Guiding Norfolk Archive resource centre in Coltishall by county commissioner Pat Pennington.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Girl Guides once earned their badges for traditional roles such as milking a cow, soling a shoe and keeping bees.

Girl Guides in Costessey 50 years ago.

Girl Guides in Costessey 50 years ago.

More than 100 years later, their modern counterparts are abseiling, canoeing, camping, building fires – even researching chocolate – among a huge range of outdoor and other activities.

And if 21st-century Norfolk Guides find it difficult to imagine the lives of their predecessors, a new Archive Resource Centre (ARC) will help bring the past to life for them.

Pat Pinnington, county commissioner for Girlguiding Norfolk, yesterday cut the first turf in a £190,000 project which will see its huge archive brought together and displayed in the ARC, to be built in the grounds of Norfolk Guides' Patteson Lodge activity centre at Coltishall.

The building, due to be officially opened on June 5, will include hanging rooms for uniforms and flags dating back to the movement's foundation, in 1910. There will also be a large, temperature-controlled room for other archive material, a multi-purpose room, which will be available for the community to hire, a kitchen and toilets.

It is hoped that it will reflect the social history of the county's girls and women in the past, present and future.

Mrs Pinnington, who became a Girl Guide aged 12 in 1959, said they wanted the ARC to be a 'living history' building, rather than a museum, where girls could try on the old uniforms and research the movement's past to gain their heritage badges.

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'We've wanted this for a long time,' she said. 'Units can visit the ARC and have a 'blast from the past' day of activities.

'Girls today can't believe it when I tell them that it was frowned on in 1910 if Guides wore trousers and that Scouting activities like camping were not considered ladylike.'

Thousands of items are currently in storage, costing the movement £100 per week.

They include log books and photographs of the Sandringham unit during the time the Queen was one of its Guides, old badges such as 'Dairymaid', 'Cobbler', 'Bee Keeper' and 'Laundress', and rare books written by Agnes Baden-Powell, founder of the Girl Guides' Association.

The building has largely been funded by legacies and donations but the 9,000-strong movement in Norfolk, including Guides, their leaders and the ex-Guide Trefoil Guild, has been given the challenge of raising £5 per person to meet a £50,000 shortfall in the ARC's cost.

Fundraising ideas include litter-picks and singalongs.

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