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It’s been a while since we told you about some of the treasures we have in the Archive and I thought I’d tell you about some very interesting donations that have arrived here over the last few months.

Day Books from Margate and Tunbridge Wells, Kent, 1938-1945

The Archive recently received five Day Books about the WVS Centres in Margate and Tunbridge Wells from 1939-1945. These Day Books were used by volunteers to record the activities happening in the local centres across Great Britain. One book describes the daily activities in the Margate office in 1944 and 1945 including.

  • Whist drives to raise funds for POWs
  • Volunteer Car Pool
  • Clothing Refugees
  • Salvage (collecting bones)
  • Welfare Furniture
  • Repairing overalls for engineers
  • And the final entry on 30 June 1945 which records members attending a Civil Defence Standing down party.


WVS watercolour poster, 1941 from Royal Voluntary Service Chesham House Centre Café at Lancing, Sussex

This is a large original pencil ink and watercolour poster (30 x 41.5 in) of 13 scenes of WVS activities in three columns, with a WVS Badge at the top centre. The Scenes depict: the Blitz, Salvage, the Homeless, John Citizen - 1941, the Footsore and Weary, a WVS Station canteen, a WVS Aluminium Dump, a WVS Mobile Canteen, Peace, Fresh fields, a rest centre and Communal Feeding, a WVS Work Depot, and children being fitted for shoes. The scenes down the left side of the poster are 'problems' with WVS’ solutions on the right.

Yorkshire, Calderdale (Halifax) papers, 1950-2013

This collection was given to us at the end of March and contains an array of exciting material from West Yorkshire, Including among others:

  • Ten coloured photographs of exhibition to mark 40th anniversary of WRVS, held in Halifax Town Hall.
  • The Orders of Service for WVS’s 21st birthday Service of Thanksgiving at York Minster 1959, and for WRVS’s Golden Jubilee at York Minster 1988.
  • A black and white photograph taken in May 1988 during a visit from Dame Thora Herd to Calderdale.
  • A Song Book for Darby & Joan Clubs and Christmas Carols, including songs such as The Kings Orient, Holly and the Ivy, Loch Lomond, A Nice Cup of tea and The White Cliffs of Dover.
  • Ten Scrapbooks compiled from 1954-1992 in Calderdale and Halifax with a Green photograph album including photos of Calderdale volunteers 1979.

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 02 May 2016.

Labels: New, Accession, Margate, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, WVS, Day Books, Poster, watercolour, Chesham House, activities, Yorkshire, Calderdale, Halifax, photograph, publication, letter, song book

The history of WRVS in 75 objects

I thought that it would be nice to give you a flavour of what we are doing here in Devizes to help prepare for the 75th anniversary in 2013 which is only now five months away.

Apart from our fevered preparations for the re-opening of our enquiry service, which is still on track for January 2013, and all of the ‘behind the scenes’ work that is going to make searching our collections possible, we are working bringing the archive (virtually) to you.

Over the next four weeks the volunteers and I are going to be looking for 75 items from the collection which tell the story of WRVS, whether that be, our first poster (pictured), a letter from Charles de Gaulle, or the packaging from a sandwich from one of our hospital shops.

These might not necessarily be the most exciting or eye catching items, but it is the fascinating and engaging stories behind the items, about WVS/WRVS at a national, local and even personal level, which is important.

Our first poster caused quite a bit of controversy, when it was discovered that the model was in fact German and all of the posters had to be recalled. This means that there are now only two that we know of in the world, one here in Devizes and the other in the Imperial War Museum in London.

Perhaps if you have an item which tells a story, you might like to share it with us. Either post a comment or perhaps send us an email

I’m looking forward to your suggestions...

Posted by Matthew McMurray, WRVS Archivist at 00:00 Monday, 23 July 2012.

Labels: heritage, history, wrvs, charles de gaulle, poster