In 2021 we celebrated our 70th anniversary which makes the Guild, not only the largest national professional tourist guide association, but also the longest running one; we have much pedigree in the UK travel trade.
Step back to 1951, the nation is emerging from the ravages of World War II and preparing to showcase itself to the world through the Festival of Britain, a national exhibition of the best of British which described itself as “one united act of national reassessment, and one corporate reaffirmation of faith in the nation’s future.” Contemporary estimates suggest half the country’s population were involved in the Festival, and there were many overseas visitors who required professional tourist guides with certified badges to know they were in safe hands. The concept of professional tourist guides was born.
From the start Britain’s professional tourist guides were registered and wore badges to indicate the highest quality of training and service. From the 1950’s to the 1970’s male guides wore a jacket and tie, while women guides wore smart hats and white gloves.
The main tourist body in the 1950s, the British Travel & Holidays Association, set up the first professional guiding course at Regent Street Polytechnic. Seven graduate tourist guides met at the historic George Inn in Southwark (a stone’s throw from our present headquarters in London Bridge) and formed a professional guiding association, the Guild of Guide Lecturers, its emblem depicted London Pride, the small plant that flourished on bomb sites.
The Guild office is currently based in bright new offices in the heart of historic Southwark, moments away from London Bridge Station and just a stone’s throw from where it all begun, over 70 years ago.