At first glance, you see a small patch of land with the unassuming outline of a concrete hut. What you don’t see is that for 64 years the structure was filled with songs, games, activities and the spirit of young members of a historic Girlguiding organization – the Sea Ranger Ship Southampton (SRSS).

But that could soon change.

The memories the young girls built on Misty Lodge from 1944 to 2008 were all resigned to history when the land lay derelict for seven years and the building torn down in 2015.

Now, thanks to a grant from Children in Need, Girlguiding has re-leased the third-of-an-acre plot at 288 Broadlands Road, Southampton, for the next 99 years.

Throughout the 1920s and 30s, the now-demolished hut was used by the Scouts and Air Cadets until the SRSS began sharing the building with a local school in 1943, holding meetings from 1944.


Sea Rangers launch new dinghy. 12th May 1952. © THE SOUTHERN DAILY ECHO ARCHIVES. Ref - 1295a

The SRSS welcomed girls and young women aged 14-21.

This Girlguiding group was especially popular in and suited to naval cities like Southampton where the unit was able to keep boats docked at Priory Hard, St Deny's. But the resourceful Sea Rangers gathered wherever there was water.

Once a week, in the evening, the SRSS would clear away the daytime blackboards, desks, and school equipment to play games, attend learning camp, hone survival skills and practice water sports. They would also party together, enjoy festive feasts, and, above all, learn naval tactics and go out on the water in canoes and kayaks.

Like the Girl Guides of today, the Sea Rangers would go on camp holidays together and practice their campfire-lighting technique and survival skills on the grounds surrounding the hut.


Sea Rangers

The girls were in good company – Queen Elizabeth II was herself Sea Ranger Commodore and Chief Ranger when she was a girl, later passing the role to her sister, Princess Margaret.

Patricia (Pat) Tarry BEM, the treasurer for the Southampton North District of Girlguiding, was a member of the SSRS at the hut herself before going on to lead Units there for many years in her adult life – taking over leadership of the group aged 27 and serving as a Leader until she was 65.

Pat’s lifelong service to Girlguiding led to her receiving the British Empire Medal in 2021, when Pat was included on the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list.

During her time running the Unit, the Sea Rangers catered for an average of 25 girls and young women at any given time.

Sea Rangers - Pat Tarry

Pat ran the unit alongside her sister, Joan Veal – another Leader of the unit.

A qualified kayaking and canoeing instructor, Pat taught the girls skills on the water, treating them to ‘midnight’ rows during unit sleepovers before they made their way back to the hut for an overnight stay.

This was perhaps a brave venture, as the hut did not have any hot water, an incredibly old cooker, and only a gas fire.

Resilience and a sense of adventure were important qualities for the girls to develop as many of them went on to work for the Women’s Royal Naval Service (the ‘Wrens’).

Sea Rangers

Naval Officers would pay visits to the SRSS, ensuring their skills and discipline were of a high enough standard that they would admit them into the Wrens.

Pat was known to the girls as ‘Skip’ - a shortened version of the title Skipper, given to Sea Ranger Leaders. It reminded Pat too much of her own Leader for her to take on the name in full.

Skip was so dedicated to the unit and her role there that the Sea Ranger Hut was often referred to as ‘Pat’s House.’ Pat’s dedication to Girlguiding is such that she even remained unmarried her whole life, in true Queen Elizabeth I fashion, by declaring: “I am married to Girlguiding.”

Pat has fond memories of her time at the hut, including a “squirrel invasion” which ended up with the poor animals accidentally launching themselves into the lavatories.

Sea Rangers

Pat is particularly reminiscent of a Mock Trail held as a joint meeting with the Scouts – where the young people could develop their communication and team-working skills while having fun.

Chaos ensued from the girls’ penchant for painting the hut walls and ceiling. Paint, supplied for the girls by Pat, spilled all over the floor following one spirited redecorating session.

Being a member of the Sea Rangers allowed girls and young women to have a break from the stresses of school and their studies.

Particularly during the exam seasons or on Friday nights after school, Pat made an effort to plan activities to help the girls ‘switch off’ and have a peaceful row across the water.

The girls enjoyed the outdoors while socialising with members of different ages and backgrounds. They were also offered the chance to learn novelties such as country dancing, equipping them with skills suitable for building a campfire as well as attending a barn dance.

Sea Rangers launch new dinghy. 12th May 1952. © THE SOUTHERN DAILY ECHO ARCHIVES. Ref - 1294a

Though the unit chose to remain specialised in naval skills, the name of the group eventually changed to the ‘Senior Branch,’ then the ‘Ranger Guides,’ until it became a part of the organisation still popular today: the ‘Rangers.’

As more activities and places to socialise became available to teenagers, membership of the Rangers gradually declined, and the unit folded in 2008. The hut was demolished in 2015 after the building was deemed unsafe.

Pat was admitted access to the site by the demolition workers given her long connection with the hut, for a chance to say goodbye to ‘Pat’s House.’

Pat and Joan’s stories of their time leading the Sea Rangers and their commitment to the organization breathed life into the previously derelict and lonely piece of land.

Plans for Misty Lodge are still being discussed by Girlguiding, who have leased the land for 99 years.

Sea Rangers

Girlguiding’s Southampton North’s Division Commissioner, Alexandra Babbage, said: “The land will be used for outdoor activities and we are planning to build on the site at some stage.”

It seems likely this patch of land, filled with echoes of the Sea Rangers laughter and chatter, will soon be given a new lease of life.

For the next 99 years, members of Girlguiding’s Rainbows, Brownies, Guides, and of course, Rangers, may learn to light campfires and play games in the very same place the Sea Rangers did decades before them.