Obituary: Norwich tour guide Barbara Miller MBE dies aged 92

Published:
06:00 17 December 2021



A longtime Norwich tour guide who was inspired to step into the role by a visit to the Tower of London has died aged 92.

After taking a guided tour of the world-famous attraction with her daughters, Barbara Miller left the capital with her heart set on working for herself.

As someone who was fascinated by history, particularly the architecture of Norwich, she was instrumental in establishing a group of Blue Badge guides in the mid-1960s.


Barbara Miller (centre) inside Blackfriars Hall

A familiar figure across town as she led people on various walks until she was over 80, she had an infectious enthusiasm for her adopted home, matched by dedicated and meticulous research.

Her family describes 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 four. Soon after, she attended College Primary School and from there she won a scholarship to Norwich Girls Secondary School.

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 took a secretarial course. She then worked on the administrative team there for the next three years.


Barbara Miller in the Great Hall of Dragon Hall. She presented a day of lectures and discussions

Barbara Miller in the Great Hall of Dragon Hall presenting a day of lectures and discussions
– Credit: Evening News © 2008

In 1949 she met Norwich-born Martin Miller at Horning on the Norfolk Broads – one of her favorite sailing haunts. They married on September 4, 1951 and celebrated their platinum wedding anniversary this year.

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

In addition to walks around town, Ms. Miller has become a much sought-after speaker across the country. Various groups and societies have regularly engaged her to illuminate a range of local history topics, including Georgian Norwich, Edith Cavell and the town’s shoe industry.

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


Barbara Miller's blue badge for city tours.  Photo: DENISE BRADLEY

Barbara Miller Blue Badge for city tours
– Credit: Copyright: Archant 2014

In 1994 she received an MBE for her 30 years of service as a Blue Badge guide. It wasn’t the only occasion she met the Queen. Twice she was invited to speak at the Sandringham Women’s Institute Christmas meeting.

During her volunteering, which began in 1964, her main destinations included Norwich Cathedral, Colegate and St Michael’s Church in Coslany, the Great Hospital, Carrow Abbey and Georgian buildings in the city. .

In addition to her lectures and walks around town, Ms. Miller engaged in a number of other activities.

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


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

Mancroft Advice Project (MAP) celebrates 25 years with Barbara Miller
– Credit: Nick Butcher

As well as her efforts to help 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 trustee until his death.

Her family added: “She was the beloved matriarch of a big family that she adored. She will be sadly missed by many people whose lives she touched in so many different ways.

Ms Miller died at her home in Norwich on December 1.

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

His funeral will take place at St Peter Mancroft at 11.30am on Tuesday December 21 and will be broadcast live via the church’s website.

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

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