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Ever wondered what an Archive volunteer gets to be involved with? Well, as a volunteer I get stuck in with all the goings on at the Archive, whether that’s sorting through new items just delivered or writing the Heritage Bulletin, there is always something going on! The most recent task I am currently working through though is cataloguing all of our records from Ipswich.
These files had been saved by our Archivist, who, armed with the empty boot of his car, rescued them from being destroyed once the Ipswich Office closed. The collection holds files relating to a lot of the services WRVS provided to the community of Ipswich, from Meals on Wheels to children’s holidays, it’s all there.
So come Wednesday morning you’ll find me sat at my desk armed with a staple remover and a computer, entering in the details of the records held within the Ipswich files. My task is to catalogue 140 files, two boxes of membership cards and the posters which were recovered.
So far I’m half way through and still going strong; I have pulled out countless rusty pins and staples from the documents and in the process of cataloguing have come across some great finds. The earliest record so far is an extract from the Thornbank Residential Club minute book dated 1946, this was the first ever Residential Club WVS opened and the Ipswich hoard contains several files about the service provided at Thornbank.
In my cataloguing pursuit I have come across floor plans for extensions and improvements, numerous newsletters, leaflets and reports and so many more interesting things.
I will be working with the Ipswich files for the next few months ensuring that all of the files have been recorded and preserved properly and then it will be onto the next challenge!
For those of of you gripped with Olympic mania, I've found a little something for you from our 1948 Narrative Reports, these extracts are taken from the London area reports.
In 2012, 70,000 volunteers have been recruited to welcome and direct spectators and athletes. If you've been to London in the last week, you'll have seen someone to help at virtually street corner.
In 1948, we had WVS!
July, August, September 1948
The Olympic Games
At the request of the British Tourist and Holidays Association, WVS in the London region were asked to staff information bureaux for Olympic Games visitors who arrived at Victoria, Waterloo, St. Pancras and Liverpool Street Stations and also at Wembley Park and at the Stadium itself.
Foreigners who arrived without having booked rooms were referred to the Central Accommodation Bureau and others were told how to reach their hotels or lodgings and were given answers to a multitude of extremely varied questions. WVS received most valuable assistance from the Girl Guides and members of the WJAC who were most helpful as messengers and also over escorting strangers in a strange land to their buses or tube stations. The bureaux at Wembley Park Station and at the stadium were staffed from 10 a.m. till 10 p.m. by the local WVS every day including Sundays.
As well as undertaking this exacting job, the Wembley WVS escorted seven hundred Italians and five hundred French people to their billets in the area, many of the final journeys taking place between 2 and 3 p.m. A Stanmore WVS member got into touch with a contingent of the Swedish Lottaocerstyrelsen who were looking after members of the Swedish teams and were housed in a local school. These Swedish girls were extremely interested in the Meals on Wheels service and two of them accompanied WVS on one round, talking to the old people and taking many photographs en route.
WVS were asked to undertake mending for some of the Olympic teams were living in West Drayton, but although a large quantity of wool was collected and WVS were ready to deal with all sorts of repairs, only six pairs of socks in need of mending materialised! WVS who staffed the information bureaux and helped the foreign visitors in many ways a;; agreed that it had been a job which was well worth doing and the foreigners seemed extremely grateful and appreciative of WVS help and advice and many of them said it had made all the difference to their stay in this country.
14th Olympiad at Wembley Stadium
We had a tremendously busy time during the period of the games. Our two main stations, Wembley Park, and Wembley Central and Information Bureaus which were staffed by our members from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. including Sundays.
Accommodation was arranged, advice given, and information of all kinds were required. 700 Italian and 500 French visitors were escorted to their billets in Wembley, for which they were all very grateful. Many letters of thanks have been received from them. Although we were all tired at the conclusion of the games, it was a most interesting time.
Report on the Olympic Information Bureaux
Two Bureaux were opened in Wembley - one at Wembley Central Station and one at Wembley Park from July 26th to August 9th from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day, Sundays included.
The primary object of these bureau was to direct visitors to their accommodations but there were only about six applications for this assistance. The greater part of the work was done at the office at Wembley Park (adjacent to the Station).
Very many enquiries were dealt with, Chiefly in connection with tickets, lost property, places of interest and how to reach them and we were asked to mind a small child whilst the mother returned to the Stadium to search for a lost bag.
On Wednesday the 28th July I was approached by a French representative of a travel agency who asked us to take 250 French visitors to their accommodation in various parts of Wembley, Harrow, Pinner and Edgware. The next day was spent in sorting the vouchers into their correct districts and order. Having, a short time before this, given a talk to members of the Wembley Round Table on the work of WVS from 1939 to the present day, they were so impressed that they offered assistance at any time. I took them at their word and called upon six owner-drivers to assist in distributing this large number of French people. Only four WVS members were able to help as this work started at mid-night and ended at three a.m. and there was no means of others getting home.
On Aug. 3rd a similar party of French arrived at 9-45 a.m. This time being escorted by WVS members to their accommodation by bus and train. On Aug. 10th a party of 729 Italian visitors arrived in Wembley at 8.45 a.m. food parcels supplied by a London firm, were distributed to each visitor by WVS before being taken by coach (AWVS member in each coach as Hostess and Guide) to addresses in Wembley, Pinner, Harrow and Edgware.