Not all those who wander are lost

The second line of J R R Tolkin’s Poem All that is gold doesn’t glitter, both very true when looking at a recent deposit we received. It’s also true that if you are travelling with WVS you won’t be lost.

In July 1942 the Ministry for Homeland Security set up the Volunteer Car Pool (VCP) to address the problems of petrol shortages. Private car owners were encouraged to enrol in the service agreeing to make their car available in an emergency. WVS was asked to be involved in the running of the scheme; by 1944 they were overseeing 570 VCP schemes across Britain. This was then succeeded by the Hospital Car Service (HCS) in 1945 where WVS and the WRVS volunteers took thousands of people to Hospital every year until the Mid1970s when the charity started to run a more diverse scheme called Country Cars (1974/75).

A short time ago we received a set of driver’s records including letters, a log book, monthly summaries, petrol records and journey records for the VCP and HCS. Mrs Bird wandered around the London and Essex Metropolitan areas between 1944 and 1950 collecting those in need of transport and taking them to hospital and many other places. Of course these records don’t glitter but they contain hidden gems such as her records for July and August 1944 when she took evacuees and their escorts from Chingford to stations in London such as Kings Cross and Paddington. Most of these journeys were 30 to 40 mile round trips. Moreover one book shows that WVS’s transport services were not just used for hospital journeys even before 1974. In 1947 and 1948 Mrs Bird took people to an old people’s tea entertainment, collected wool from Tothill Street London (WVS Headquarters) and transported fruit for canning to Portland Place. Occasionally she also delivered Meals on Wheels and clothing to local clothing depots.

If you would like to find out more about the VCP and HCS why not explore our Factsheets on Transport or Hospital Services

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 25 July 2016.

Labels: WVS, Accession, Archive, VCP, Hospital Car Service

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