Heritage Bulletin blog

The Heritage Bulletin Blog ran from July 2012 to January 2020, covering a huge range of subjects, from a day in the archives, to extracts from the WVS bulletins, and histories of various WVS/WRVS services.

It’s 219 articles have become a valuable resource in themselves, why not search them or just browse to discover something new.

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Reports from everywhere - October 1964

Help from the young
The very ancient town of Stirling - the gateway to the Highlands - is renewing its youth with the coming of the New University. The youth of the town are alive and energetic and when a notice was put up in the high school for volunteers to help with meals on wheels during the holidays over 40 girls offered to help. These Jolly youngsters distributed all the meals to the very appreciative old people. Through this holiday task many have become interested in WVS work for the future.

WVS cater for Old Contemptibles’
At the beginning of August, Teignmouth WVS were asked by the secretary of the Old Contemptibles’ Association if they would cater for the tea for them after the Jubilee Service and Parade held on August 9th. … WVS gladly undertook this task and catered for the men, their wives and friends – in all over 150 people – The kindly service received and the excellent food provided was greatly appreciated.

Her ‘show’
An old lady, wheeled into a fete at Hadleigh by a WVS member, asked to spend the afternoon sitting in the crèche run by WVS and seemed to enjoy every minute.

Fields and trees
Apart from the usual requests for spare-a-mile to keep hospital and dental appointments, Wallasey WVS had a request to take an old lady of 97 years of age for a run in the country. She was most anxious to see green fields and trees, having lived for a very long time almost on the promenade at New Brighton and the urge to see the country again overcame her. Our member who took the old lady reported that the outing was a huge success: she took her round the Wirral and then to her home for tea. The old lady was very thrilled and said it was a day to be long remembered. They hope to repeat the excursion.

Posted by Matthew McMurray at 09:00 Monday, 27 October 2014.

Labels: Stirling, Hadleigh, Teignmouth, Wallasey, WVS , Spare a mile, Meals on Wheels , Old contemptibles, creche, University

Up for 8 weeks in Cambridge

As students go back to their universities for the new academic year this month, we thought we would take a look at the contribution that they made to the war effort. An enquirer wanted to know what connection the WVS had to the Cambridge colleges, so after a couple of hours of research, through quite the best and most detailed Narrative Reports I had ever read, came an answer of sorts.

It appears that the WVS certainly in the period before shortly before the war saw the colleges as both a place to hold training events and also as a ripe recruiting ground. In April 1939 Newnham (the second oldest Women’s college in Cambridge) hosted a training course for the WVS for Catering managers, presumably those who were to staff communal feeding centres when the inevitable war came. The college at the same time allowed the WVS to make a speech and to enrol students.

After this initial enthusiasm, the contact between the WVS and the colleges seems to have gone very quiet. Whether this is because the war up to this point had passed the university by or that the university were just not co-operating with the WVS, I do not know. I am sure there is an enterprising university historian out there who could tell us…

It was not until April 1940 we again find any co-operation between the university and the WVS. This is a special appeal to the University colleges for Musical Instruments and clothing for evacuees. The appeal was championed by Lady Spens who held a party for 60 members of the colleges to encourage them to participate.

In September members of the university entertained foreign troops (who had been stationed there after the withdrawl from Dunkirk). The specialist language skills of the students and staff helping to make their stay easier.

It is not until 1941 that involvement really picks up, particularly when a camouflage net garnishing workshop is set up in the city in an old billiards hall in November. By December that year they had over 150 women students helping at this work.

They key to getting students to involve themselves in activities seems to have been the type of jobs. There is an interesting discourse about the troubles of getting undergraduates to help at all, it is said because the short periods during which the students were up (only 8 weeks at a time) made assigning them to longer term projects particularly difficult. Also they had found it impossible to attract students to emergency work as the colleges were ‘not able to be contacted by telephone’ meaning they could not summon their help in a hurry.

Garnishing Camouflage nets seems to have been the perfect job, as students could pop in for a couple of hours when they had the time, with no long term commitment required.

By the winter of 1941 students were also starting to get into assisting with the clubs for evacuated mothers, giving talks. One of the colleges (Homerton) even ran one of the war nurseries in the city.

That is where I ran out of time to do any more research, but perhaps we will get the chance to research from 1942 to the end of the war for a future blog …

Posted by Matthew McMurray at 09:00 Monday, 20 October 2014.

WRVS Association

The WRVS Association began life in March 1973 when a meeting was held to discuss the creation of an association which would provide a friendly link between both present and past members of the charity. This association would ensure that ex-members continued to be supported and kept informed of the charity’s current work.

From the initial meeting held in March 1973 the Association was born, developing into a nationwide scheme. In order to be eligible for membership you must have served a minimum of 5 years with the charity. Once a member you would receive regular updates via a Newsletter and through the use of Divisional Representatives, would be invited to lots of organised events in your local area, such as day trips to the theatre and meals out.

From the 25 members at the first annual meeting the Association continued to grow, during its 40 year life it had seen over 10,000 members. Reunions and Annual General Meetings were held each year, and would be a great occasion to get members together over a weekend away, to catch up and reminiscence with friends.

The Association continued to function as a source of support until it disbanded on the 3rd July 2013. Although this was a sad day for Association members, an end of an era, here at the archive we have been able to preserve the Associations records, allowing us to continue to tell its story. My role over the next six months will be to appraise, organise, repackage and catalogue this valuable collection. I will remove countless staples and repackage hundreds of records, all to ensure that we preserve the history of the Association forever.

So far in my first week I have been able to delve into the boxes and discover many a treasure, from a knitted WVS doll and a wooden gavel block presented by Helena Foster (Chairman 1983-1986) to keep order during those enthusiastic Annual General Meetings. I am sure that whilst I continue to sort through the boxes I will un-earth many other great finds….. I will have to keep you updated!

Posted by Hannah Tinkler at 09:00 Monday, 13 October 2014.

Spinach and Beet - part 6

This month’s extract from the diary of a Centre Organiser comes from the WVS Bulletin, September 1951:


Rest Centre rehearsal to-day: not too bad. Was rather startled to find all indications as to the whereabouts of ‘Drinking Water’, ‘Enquiries’ and so on prefaced with the words ‘ I HI! ’ instead of the more sober ‘ NOTICE.’ “Certainly very striking,” I said, speaking close to the ear of Miss Deffe who had printed them, “and—er—matey!” She eyed me reproachfully. “It was your suggestion,” she declared. Couldn’t imagine what she meant until I suddenly remembered I had emphasised the importance of notices being eye high (and not erected at levels where only Brobdingnagians or Lilliputians could read them)!

Recipe – From the WVS bulletin September 1951

Barley Water with Rose-Hip Syrup

The best barley water needs a lemon, but as these are so hard to come by we give below an excellent alternative.

Allow about 1 tablespoon pearl barley to every pint of barley water required. Put barley in saucepan, cover with cold water, bring quickly to boil, remove, strain, return the barley to clean pan and add 1 pint of boiling water. Let it stand for a while, strain water into a jug. Add 2-4 teaspoons of rose hip syrup. If rose-hip barley water is to be used purely as a drink, 2 teaspoons of rose-hip syrup to the pint is sufficient, but if the invalid is living on nothing else but barley water, he or she needs 4 teaspoons of rose-hip syrup daily, and must therefore drink about 2 pints of rose-hip barley water daily, if possible.

Other uses for Rose-Hip Syrup. When considering the invalid’s diet, do remember to make full use of rose-hip syrup, which besides being delicious provides the highest content of vitamin C. Serve it on a milk pudding, or as a sauce round the cornflour mould, or round creams made with milk, or with baked apples.

It must be borne in mind, however, that cooking destroys the vitamin C in rose-hip syrup, so, when cooking, add the syrup last of all, just long enough for it to get warm, but not boil.

Posted by Matthew McMurray at 13:15 Monday, 06 October 2014.

Labels: Rest Center, WVS Bulletin