Obituary: Tour guide brought city's heritage alive for more than 50 years

Barbara Miller, celebrating fifty years of guiding tours around the city, at one of her favourite pl

Barbara Miller, celebrating fifty years of guiding tours around the city, at one of her favourite places, St Michael at Coslany Church at Colegate. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2014

A long-serving Norwich tour guide who was inspired to get involved in the role by a visit to the Tower of London has died aged 92. 

After being taken on a guided tour of the world famous attraction with her daughters, Barbara Miller left the capital with her heart set on the job for herself. 

As someone fascinated by history, in particular Norwich’s architecture, she became instrumental in establishing a group of Blue Badge guides during the mid-1960s.  

St Andrews Hall and Blackfriars Hall in Norwich.The Good and The Bad - Tours of Norwich Buildings

Barbara Miller (centre) inside Blackfriars Hall

A familiar figure across the city as she led people on a variety of walks until well into her 80s, she had an infectious enthusiasm for her adopted home, matched with dedicated and meticulous research. 

Her family described her as “an indomitable woman of great vitality, with a big heart.” 

An only child, Barbara Baker was born in Stowmarket, Suffolk, in 1929. The family moved to Norwich when she was aged four. Soon after, she attended the College Primary School and from there she won a scholarship to Norwich High School for Girls.   

On leaving school in 1947, she was offered a place to study history at the London School of Economics but her father was convinced that university was not the right place for her. She went to Norwich City College instead and completed a secretarial course. She went on to work in the admin team there for the next three years.    

Barbara Miller in the Great Hall at Dragon Hall.She was presenting a day of lectures and discussio

Barbara Miller in the Great Hall at Dragon Hall presenting a day of lectures and discussion - Credit: Evening News © 2008

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In 1949, she met Norwich-born Martin Miller, at Horning on the Norfolk Broads - a favourite sailing haunt of his. They married on September 4, 1951, and celebrated their platinum wedding anniversary this year.

In 1969, Mrs Miller returned to Norwich High School as a part-time secretary to the headmistress, Dorothy Bartholomew, and worked for three headmistresses there until retiring in 1989. 

As well as the city walks, Mrs Miller became a much sought-after lecturer across the country. Various groups and societies booked her on a regular basis to throw light on a range of local history topics including Georgian Norwich, Edith Cavell, and the city’s shoe industry. 

For years she relied on 35mm slides, but during her 80s she converted her slides to digital images and mastered the new techniques and technology to do so. 

Barbara Miller's blue badge for guiding tours around the city. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Barbara Miller's blue badge for guiding tours around the city - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2014

In 1994, She was awarded an MBE for her 30 years of service as a Blue Badge guide. This was not the only occasion where she met the Queen though. Twice she was invited to speak at the Christmas meeting of Sandringham Women’s Institute. 

During her volunteering, which began in 1964, she included in her top destinations Norwich Cathedral, Colegate and St Michael at Coslany church, the Great Hospital, Carrow Abbey, and the Georgian buildings around the city. 

In addition to her talks and city walks, Mrs Miller threw herself into a number of other activities.  

For years she served on the Norwich Society committee and worked tirelessly for the Norwich Preservation Trust and the Norfolk Record Society. One of her most significant contributions was to Norwich's St Peter Mancroft, where for many years she was a churchwarden and fundraiser.  

Mancroft Advice Project (MAP) celebrates its 25th anniversary.Barbara Miller.PHOTO: Nick Butche

Mancroft Advice Project (MAP) celebrating its 25th anniversary with Barbara Miller - Credit: Nick Butcher

As well as her efforts in helping to establish the Octagon building on the corner of Norwich Haymarket, she also helped raise funds for a new organ at the west end of the church, and set up the charity, Mancroft Advice Project (MAP), serving as a trustee until her death. 

Her family added: “She was the much-loved matriarch of a big family whom she adored. She will be much missed by many people whose lives she touched in so many different ways.” 

Mrs Miller died at home in Norwich on December 1. 

She is survived by her husband, daughters Charlotte, Louise and Alexandra, her three sons-in-law, eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.   

Her funeral will take place be at St Peter Mancroft at 11.30am on Tuesday, December 21, and will be live-streamed via the church website. 

Donations collected for MAP via Allcock Family Funeral Services, Falcon House, 96a, City Road, Norwich, NR1 2HD or online at allcockfunerals.co.uk

  • To pay tribute to a loved one, email norfolktributes@archant.co.uk  

  • To read all obituaries and tributes join the Facebook group Norfolk's Loved & Lost.

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