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Cockermouth Post Article February 2014 – The Brownie Movement

As well as being one hundred years since the outbreak of World War One, 2014 also marks the 70th anniversary of the DD landings and the Battle of Arnhem in World War Two, which Cumbrian servicemen and women played an important part in. Many local people lost their lives or were wounded in those events, and in the past we have touched on the lives of some of those people.

On a lighter note, 2014 also marks one hundred years since the appearance of the Brownie movement, started by Agnes Baden-Powell, sister of Lord Baden-Powell. Our picture shows Brownies in Rodham’s Schoolroom, Brigham Road in 1960. We have relatively little information about the history of the Brownies, Guides and Scouting movement in Cockermouth, even though it is a movement that plenty of children in the town will have enjoyed in the past and continue to belong to. We would very much like pictures to copy and information to record on these and associated groups, so please look and see what you can find. What kind of activities did you get up to? Did you enjoy being away from home at some of the many camping activities?

Looking online for information about the Brownie movement, I was surprised to discover that Brownies were originally known as Rosebuds when the movement began in 1914, wearing blue outfits, similar to the Guide uniform. Apparently, little girls didn’t much care for being known as Rosebuds and the name was changed to Brownies (with a consequent change in the colour of their uniform) in 1915. Juliana Horatia Ewing had written a book called ‘The Brownies’ in 1870, in which the characters Tommy and Betty learned how they could either be helpful ‘Brownies’ or lazy ‘boggarts’. I must admit that aspiring to be a boggart has a certain attraction, but maybe that’s just my awkward side! I do remember the excitement of being attached to the ‘Fairies’ when I started at my Brownie group in the dim and distant past, and conscientiously stitching the badge with the golden fairy logo on it onto my uniform. Maybe you can help out with the names of the other groups in Brownies – I do remember Pixies and Elves, but what were the others? Nowadays, I note that Pixies and the like have been replaced by Badgers, Foxes and other such animals. In 1987 along came Rainbows for five to seven year olds, and in 2002 a make-over for the Brownie uniform – away with the brown sack, and leather belt, and in with the modern trousers and hooded top. Let us have your stories so that we can record them and preserve those memories.

Gloria Edwards

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