How guiding got started in Scotland

Our history

For more than 100 years Girlguiding Scotland has listened to girls and acted on what they tell us.

It all started after some girls saw what fun the newly-formed Scouts were having and started to run their own meetings – ignoring the title of the handbook ‘Scouting for Boys’!

Those pioneering girls included Scotland’s first ever Guide, Allison Cargill, who set up her own patrol in the loft of some stables near her Glasgow home.

After some girls gate-crashed a Boy Scout rally and asked founder Robert Baden-Powell to do ‘something for girls too’, his sister Agnes set up the Girl Guides Association in 1910. The first Scottish Guides were registered that year.

Many more girls got involved and Allison herself went on to become Scottish guiding’s President in the 1950s. New groups started up for girls of different ages – now known as Rainbows, Brownies and The Senior Section – so there was something for girls at each stage of their lives.

Scottish guiding became independent in 1933. On the eve of the Second World War, we moved into the Edinburgh town house where our HQ and Edinburgh guiding shop are still based today.

Girlguiding Scotland was given the keys to Netherurd, our beautiful Georgian house and estate in the Borders, by Major Thomson in the 1940s. Since then it’s given generations of girls and guiders a home from home where they can be themselves, have fun and try new adventures.

Even in the early days the first Guide activities were adventurous and challenging, including the Photographer and Electrician badges.

Today, girls do everything from speaking out about women’s rights to learning about stars, whizzing down zip wires or doing community work abroad.

And over the decades Scottish Guides and Brownies have always made their mark, from helping with the war effort to growing up into famous names such as Harry Potter author JK Rowling, journalist Kirsty Wark and TV presenter Lorraine Kelly!

Love delving into history? Our Glasgow archives have a wealth of books, memorabilia and old uniforms to fire up the imagination!