Guiding/Scouting in my family – Mum

There have been a few members of my family who have joined either the scouting or guiding movements over the years. I will be writing three posts to cover this – mum, dad and myself.

My mum Phyllis England, pictured here with her cousin Maureen Chandler, was enrolled as a Brownie in 1941 by Mrs. I. Foot into 3rd Hobart Brownies with Miss D (Dottie) Rafferty as her leader. Some of mum’s memories written in 2008:

We spent a lot of time in St. David’s Park as our meeting hall was in Harrington St.

I remember eating an orange at Dotty’s house and then growing water cress in the skin.

Catching a tram to either the junction of Creek and Augusta Rds and walking up to the picnic ground at Lenah Valley and doing tracking or else to the Cascade Gardens and behind the Brewery and doing semaphore and tracking were exciting activities and good exercise.

My most vivid memory was going to the hut on the mountain for a pack holiday and being made eat fried tomatoes with scrambled eggs for breakfast. I greatly disliked cooked tomato (and still do). We were made to sit at the long table till we ate at least two tablespoon of tomato which by this time had congealed with fat. I missed out that morning on going to the wishing well.

But when it came to Guides:

As a Guide I went to the Memorial Church Hall in Brisbane Street.  My cousins and I caught a tram to town from Sandy Bay and then walked to guides early after tea. (This wouldn’t happen now) Guides couldn’t have been as interesting as Brownies because I don’t remember much of what we did.

Mum’s next foray into guiding was when I became a Brownie in Glenorchy and as was often the case as a Mum she was soon in uniform.

Many happy days were spent both as a Brown Owl and then a Guide captain, with many camps at Oyster Cove. This was really a chore as you had to get the boiler going to have hot water for the camp. This was both at Glenorchy then Lindisfarne.

Another day to remember was Thinking Day when the whole Division tried to make a coin circle around the Cadbury oval.

Another thing we did was plant a lemon tree at Queen Victoria home for Ribbon of Gold.  We had been asked Australian wide to plant yellow trees. I was very pleased to see that it was still growing when I recently visited the home although it does need a little bit of loving care.

Blue serge suits and icing sugar certainly don’t mix.   Many visits to Triabunna would see me being offered cream puffs as the Commissioner knew how much I liked them and the girls would make sure I had one or two when perhaps a sandwich would have been nice if offered first.

Mum’s most memorable experience was when Lady Baden Powell came to visit Hobart. A big rally was held up on the Domain on the T.C.A. ground and at night leaders met at Hathaway House in North Hobart. Naturally we were all on our best behaviour sitting like real ladies waiting to hear Lady Baden Powell speak. Her first words were “Why don’t some of you sit on the floor and make yourself comfortable.” Many of us did just this and I’ll never forget the aura of sitting at the feet of our world leader.

Mum had a great memory when taking her camp licence:

I continued on as a leader when we moved to Lindisfarne and the funniest thing to happen was when I was going for my camp licence at Betty Beament’s property at Molesworth.  I had set up camp a couple of days before with the tents and screening.  Imagine my horror when I arrived after tea on the Friday night to discover Betty’s pet cow had taken a liking to the ridge pole tents and had made an exit where there should not have been one through two tents.  Betty came to the rescue with some tents belonging to New Norfolk Guides.  To top it all off as I was being tested the cow decided to pay another visit and went straight through the lats. (I did get my licence because after all we are prepared for all events, aren’t we.)

Once leaving formal guiding as a leader, mum had a lot to do with Orana the Guide camp at Roches Beach.

My guiding continued through many positions but being Orana booking officer for 25 years and meeting so many people will take a lot of beating, whether it was Australian, State or overseas visitors and many local teachers etc.  One state camp Sibyle Young and myself spent many long nights chasing boys off the campsite.

When planning Malunna camphouse it was amazing that Sibyle and I would both come up with the same idea without any discussion taking place over a particular matter.

My days in guiding still continue with Trefoil Guild.  Guiding has sure changed over the 67 years but hasn’t everything.

Trefoil Guild members at July birthday morning tea 2015

Back: Eileen Harrison, Brit Howard, Nancy Woodward

Front: Phyllis Wyatt, Sibyle Young, Mary Coatman

Readers: Were you a member of Scouts or Guides or perhaps another group like YMCA as my brother was?

Mum and her teddy bears

Mum and her sister Margaret would put together some Christmas boxes for Samaritans Purse each year. These boxes would include soap, washer, pencils, notepad, a toy and a piece of clothing as well as other things useful for children overseas.

Aunty Marg would make girls skirts while mum would knit teddy bears. But after mum had her stroke and aneurysm, she couldn’t follow patterns or recipes any more, so she would knit headbands and marble bags instead.

We had a friend Margaret Mead who worked with children in Africa as part of her nursing, so mum adapted her knitted bears pattern to make children who were brown for her to take with her, next time she headed to Africa.

Also when the fires burnt down a lot of Dunalley here in Tasmania, mum knitted teddy bears to give to affected students as something for them to keep and play with.

Mum thoroughly enjoyed knitting her teddy bears whilst watching the TV and checking out the window who might be visiting.

Readers: Do you have an interest that keeps you occupied when you are ill?


Henry Lewis ENGLAND (junior)

Henry Lewis England was the only son born to Henry Lewis and Julia Charlotte England nee Chandler. He was born 12 December 1888 in Hobart when the family lived in Regent Street, Sandy Bay.

Henry’s other siblings were Ruby May b. 5 July 1886, Gladice Emily b. 4 August 1891 and Lucy Grace b. 22 October 1894. When Ruby was born the family were living in Union Street, Sandy Bay.

Henry’s father was a labourer and a road man according to the children’s birth certificates. In fact, he worked for the Queenborough Town Board in various capacities including rent collector and foreman of the works.

When Henry junior was only 17 years old, his mother passed away in March 1905 at her residence in Grosvenor Street, Sandy Bay. By the time the war years came around, Henry, at age 27, was given an exemption due to him having to look after an invalid father.


In 1923, Henry married Hannah Davey who was working as a housekeeper to the Lord Family in Grosvenor Street, not far from where Henry lived. The marriage took place at Longford where Hannah’s widowed mother was living. See my post about Hannah for all the details of the marriage including newspaper report and a photo.

Family life with Hannah

Three daughters were born to this couple: Iris Alston 1924 – 1934, Margaret Grace 1928 – 2017 and Phyllis Joan born 1934. Below are some memories from both Margaret (M)(interviewed a year or so before her death) and Phyllis.

  • Dad worked for the Hobart City Council as a street sweeper.
  • He was a volunteer fire fighter and went up Mount Wellington to fight a large fire when Phyllis was about 8. I wouldn’t go back inside our house till I saw him come home.
  • Dad loved his fishing in Sandy Bay but none of us could swim and we didn’t have life jackets. We’d go fishing with Uncle Percy Chandler. Phyllis used to take the fish to neighbours in a heavy steel bucket.
  • During the war years we had a trench dug in our backyard but it was usually full of water so it probably wouldn’t have saved us if the Japanese arrived.
  • Dad pulled down our toilet and laundry, then built a new toilet, bathroom and wash house still out in the back yard, not attached to the house. He made the cement blocks by hand.
  • When the war was over, he taught returned soldiers how to make cement articles.
  • He broke his arm at work and had to spend a few days in hospital.
  • Dad would visit his mother’s grave in Sandy Bay and his daughter Iris’s grave at Cornelian Bay every month.
  • He made model yachts and gave them away. Philip (my brother) has one and he gave it to his son Alexander.
  • We travelled everywhere by either tram or walking as we didn’t own a car.
  • Dad didn’t go to church but cooked us a roast every Sunday when mum, Margaret and I went to Sunday School and church.
  • Dad had pigeons in a pigeon loft and he’d get the pigeons out and I would run up to Fitzroy Gardens and stand in a special place. I’d let the pigeons go and dad would see who got home first, me or the pigeons. That was about a weekly event. (M)
  • He always wore his watch with the chain on it, the fob watch. He always had that on where ever you wore a collar and tie. (M)
  • Hobart City Council had a picnic day once a year down at Long Beach, just where the roundabout is. Dad was a good runner often winning the races. (M)
  • When you went to Long Beach on the trams, us kids would all go upstairs on the double decker tram and when we got to Wrest Point, “There’s Uncle Harry out there!” Everybody knew dad. (M)
Pa England with his four grandchildren
Philip, Bronwyn, Suzanne and Leigh
Margaret and Phyllis fishing with their dad, Henry
Margaret, Phyllis and Pa England fishing off Long Beach, Sandy Bay
Pa England with his pigeons
Winning a running race
Think these are his workmates.
Can you find him with his hat at an angle?
Yacht made by Pa England and
given to his grandson Philip.
An official portrait of him found in an attic,
hence the spots.

My memories

Henry Lewis England was my grandfather and he bequeathed his piano to me. I remember as a child learning and practising those scales and even now, after many years of not using the piano, I can still play most of Fur Elise from memory.

Mum’s parents were still alive while I was a child but had died by the time I was 10. I can remember visiting them at their house and having meals there. The main thing I remember is their toilet was outside. Pa England had lots of birds and loved growing fruit trees while Nanna England kept the house tidy and it was always warm and welcoming.