FOR generations of children there was only one place to go for a woggle. The Scout and Guide Shop in North Bailey, Durham, has supplied uniforms to tens of thousands of children in the region for the past 70 years.

Known affectionately by Scouts as Number 47, the imposing red brick store is also a treasure trove for ramblers, hikers, campers and fell-walkers.

Number 47 was the place to buy your gear if you wanted to be a Scout or Guide.

But times have changed. Recently, big red sale posters have appeared in windows. Piles of berets, woggles, badges and socks are going cheap.

This summer the shop is to close, replaced by a factory outlet-style store. To old Scouts, it is the end of an era. The adjoining administrative offices used by Durham County Scouts for around 70 years will also close, after business at the shop on Saturday August 30.

Both premises have already gone on the market following the recent decision taken by the Scouts' county executive committee.

The closure will see the loss of one full-time and two-part-time jobs at 47 North Bailey.

Shop manager Helen Scarr, who has worked there for 15 years, plus assistants Carol Sancaster and Angela Scott, have received redundancy notices.

One part-time post will be needed when the Moor House shop, at Rainton Gate, near Durham, is redeveloped later in the year.

Ms Scarr, who was inspired to start a Guides group after working in the shop, said: "It's the end of an era."

The original Scout uniform was introduced in 1908. It consisted of a khaki flat brim hat, a neckerchief, a smart shirt (blue, khaki, green or grey), blue shorts, a brown leather belt and dark socks.

Those early uniforms were not without their problems. Young boys' attempts at tying the neckerchief often made them look untidy, so the woggle was introduced during the 1920s.

The beret was introduced in the 1950s as an alternative to the flat brimmed hat.

By 1967, the uniform had changed to a green long sleeved shirt, the scarf and woggle combo, long trousers, fawn socks and the green beret.

And so it was until this year when the decison was taken to shut Number 47.

But with the motto of the Scouts being "Be prepared", this will not be the end of uniform sales.

The Scouts' executive committee plans to consolidate and increase use of its Moor House Adventure Centre, a licensed activities site at Rainton Gate.

A uniform and badge sale outlet which will operate on some evenings and at weekends is being developed at Moor House, while much of the administration side has already made the move.

County Scouts' manager Graeme Popay said: "We see it as a case of moving rather than closing.

"We own the premises and it's a big old building which has always been the headquarters, but it requires a lot of maintenance, and it's a big drain on financial reserves.

"There are 5,000 Scouts and a similar number of Guides and many visit Moor House for camp, so we decided the best thing to do would be to open a big outlet on the site, supplying all uniform and badges.

"Moor House is busy all the time. There are all sorts of groups that come here and use the facilities and so we thought this was progress rather than a backward step."