The earliest mention of the Guides is in 1934 when Alderman Sturge-Cotterell showed visitors around Bath on Boxing day and Easter morning. The service appears to have continued, even during the period of the second World War. In 1951, during the Festival of Britain, daily walks were given from June to September but only for groups that had booked in advance.
By 1960 formal training sessions were held for new volunteer guides. Local experts were engaged to give lectures on a wide range of subjects relating to the city. By 1975 the frequency of the walks increased to twice daily and on every day except Christmas day.
Today there are about 85 volunteer guides who turn out in all weathers. As far as anyone can remember the walks have only been cancelled twice. In 1981 a spell of alternate thaw and freezing left the ground too treacherous to walk on. In 1996 a hurricane force wind blew through the city uprooting trees and causing chaos and the walk was again cancelled as it was felt it was too dangerous.
The walks have become popular with visitors and sometimes up to 100 people can gather outside the Pump Room at the starting point with four or five guides each setting off leading smaller groups.
The guides are proud of the service they offer. It is free and no guide accepts a tip. The reward is the satisfaction of welcoming visitors from across the world and, on behalf of the Mayor, leading informative, interesting and entertaining walking tours of the beautiful and historic City of Bath.