The Guide Movement in Upton-by-Chester

Scouting, as you will know, was founded by Sir Robert Baden Powell after an experimental camp on Brownsea Island in 1907. In 1909 Boy Scouts met for a Rally at the Chrystal Palace. In the midst of 11,000 scouts were a few girls who, not to be outdone, announced "We're the Girl Scouts" and so began the Guide Movement. Two years later the Brownie section was formed.

The 1st Upton Brownie pack was started by Miss Monica Sparling (daughter of the first Vicar of Upton) in 1919 and has never closed. Guides started a month later and although almost continuous there were breaks when Guides were difficult to recruit, such as the period during the 30 - 45 war, although Guides did do much collecting of waste paper, rose hips etc. Rangers, the senior section, started in 1956 and Rainbows quite recently. We now have 3 Guide Companies, 4 (+ 1 in Mollington) Brownie Packs, 2 groups of Rainbows and 1 Ranger Unit.

After Miss Sparling, Guiding in Upton became almost synonymous with the Joseph family, who lived at bron-y-Garth, where Garth Drive now is; and the connection only died with Alix Joseph's death in February 2000. However its continuity is assured as we have dedicated leaders at all levels, who maintain the spirit of the movement with selfless care.

Meeting places have included the Vicarage attic, a classroom at St Mary's School, the Scout Hut. The Scouts had an ex-army hut from Moston and we were to have another but ours was rather decrepit and the ends didn't fit and it finally blew down in a gale!

Finally in 1956, thanks to the good offices of Canon Wheldon Williams, we were able to take over the Men's Institute building on the corner of Caughall Road. It had been used as a Civil Defence headquarters and was in a frightful condition. After 2 years of hard work by Guides, parents and all and sundry it was officially opened in 1958. In 1964 the camp room was added. Since then it has had some excellent refurbishment including a new kitchen. Next, I think we need a new roof. We now have adequate heating as we froze for many winters and there were no such things as thermals then. The garden/play area was developed as a memorial to Kay Joseph (Alix's sister) in 1972.

Camps have been many and varied in rain, wind and sunshine, with wonderful hospitality from our hosts. We have had visits from cows, sows and piglets, a pack of hounds and countless dogs. The sight of guides leaving Upton in a furniture van packed to overflowing was a common sight in Upton for many years until furniture vans were no longer considered desirable transport.

Guides have camped at home and abroad, including U.S.A., Mexico and the Far East and have enjoyed hospitality in families as well as attending International Camps.

Guides have helped to make the 'new' County Standard which replaced the old one as Cheshire Guiding became so large that it had to be divided and much work was done at Wakefield Grange (Alix Joseph's school). The have been numerous pageants for which we made costumes and the Trefoil Guild, which is for retired or non-active Guides, has made many panels for display; one of which, representing Chester, is on display in Guide Headquarters.

Alex Joseph wrote a booklet on our Guiding history up to 1979, which we are building on and when complete will cover Guiding in Upton to the present day.

Alex Joseph - the two guides with her are understood to be modelling uniforms designed by Alex.

From the WI1965 Upton history

The first Upton Guide Company was founded in November, 1919, by Miss Monica Sparling. They have been disbanded but are now extremely active. They number 36 girls who meet weekly and take part with enthusiasm in all Guide activities in the village and in Chester on special occasions. The First Upton Brownie Pack was formed in 1919 and has continued without a break. They are 24 in number and a very keen band of youngsters. An outstanding event was their winning of the Chester Division Finals in the 1950 County Brownie Competition. The 1st Upton Scouts Company has just been re-formed and it: is hoped that they will grow into a keen body of Scouts. We have no information about the Cubs though there has been an Upton pack which was very active just after the end of World War II.