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.

Showing 11-20 results

WVS Golfing Society

With the win of the European Ryder Cup team lifting our collective spirits this weekend, it made me think of the WVS Golfing Society.

While not on par with Messers McIlroy and Poulter, the ladies of WVS were keen golfers forming their own society and holding their first event on 17 May 1949 at the Moor Park Golf Club, near Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire. The winners of the Regional Challenge cup on that occasion were Region III (which included Notts, Lincs, Northampton, Leics, Rutland and Derbs). The winning team are pictured in the photograph and were. Mrs Garrett, Mrs Roe, Lady Earle, Mrs Street, Mrs Glover and Mrs Daglish.

The society continued to have yearly competition meetings and by the late 1960s also held spring autumn and winter competitions in 1970 these were at the Swinley Golf Club and Berkhamstead Golf Club. There were also regional WRVS golf societies being formed, the first was in the South East organised by the Tunbridge Wells centre.

After 1970 the trail goes cold, but like the WRVS Lawn tennis Club, it seems to have continued well into the 1990s. WRVS even held a golf day as a fundraiser in 2006 at the Belfry, which was rained off by torrential weather and had to be replayed two months later. Thankfully the 2007 golf day was much less dramatic.

Posted by Matthew McMurray at 00:00 Monday, 29 September 2014.

Labels: Ryder Cup, Golfing Society

Reports from Everywhere - September 1944

Continuing our monthly series, here are some reports from WVS centres 70 years ago this month.

A Falconwood member, acting as train escort during the evacuation, took a Punch and Judy Show with her and gave entertainments during the journey.

Poulton-le-Fylde supply knitting for the Forces to a surgery of one of the doctors, and are delighted with the amount done by the waiting patients.

An Acton member escorted three children to Wales and returned the same day. She said she had not been able to sit still for so long and hoped next time she would be asked to go to Scotland !

W.A.A.F. welfare work is becoming an Elstree speciality : there have been two more weddings, both Colonial, so W.V.S. made all the necessary arrangements as there were no relatives available.

Sandy came to the rescue of a violinist whose E string broke just before an Army concert. There was no music shop in the town, so the W.V.S. Office was appealed to, and in ten minutes an E string was located.

A military hospital is making toys for Birmingham day nurseries, and some of the men have visited one nursery, stayed for tea and repaired broken toys on the spot. A supply of extra nuts, bolts, wheels, etc., are now kept on the premises in readiness for these visits.

In one village in the Uckfield R.D. W.V.S. was asked to produce an eight- week-old baby girl so that an officer, who had just heard he had a daughter of that age, could see what she looked like. The baby was duly found and the officer introduced to her.

About a year ago one of the children at a Perthshire Evacuation Hostel wrote to a donor of an Afghan quilt in Canada, and ever since the child has been receiving letters from the Canadian family. Now the father of the family, an airman, has arrived in Scotland and is to visit the hostel to see his family’s pen-friend for himself.

Posted by Matthew McMurray at 00:00 Monday, 22 September 2014.

Spinach and Beet - part 5

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


Spring colds have laid low several of our more experienced members and the office has been manned recently by some of the newer ones. Felt an “ atmosphere ” when I arrived this morning to find our well-loved District Nurse obviously “ parked ” on a hard chair—awaiting my arrival. Knowing how precious every minute of her day is to her, I enquired anxiously: “ Couldn’t Miss Newcome help you? ” Before Nurse had time to answer I felt an urgent tug at my sleeve, and a fierce whisper warned me : “ She came to ask for a pull-over for one of her children who has had measles . . . and she says her name is Miss Jones. Don’t you think we ought to get on to the Moral Welfare Officer------? ” Had quite a job explaining (after due introductions had been made, and Nurse had departed with a pull-over) that she refers to all her cases in the same manner : “ One of my mothers,” “ one of my husbands,” and so on. Miss Newcome—in whom we have been unable, as yet, to discover any trace of a sense of humour— was only partially mollified. “ I do feel,” she said rather primly, “ that this method of expression is more than a trifle misleading.”

Recipe – From the WVS Bulletin, April 1951

Steamed Suet Pudding
In these days of short meat ration, make the most of any fat the butcher gives you. There is nothing to beat a good Steamed Suet Pudding, sweet or savoury and excellent for young and old.

Basic Recipe :
1 cup Breadcrumbs. 1/2 teasp. Salt.
1 cup Chopped Suet. 1/2 teasp. Baking Powder.
Water to mix.

Mix dry ingredients and mix to a stiff paste with the water. Roll out and use as desired. Steam for 1 1/2 hours but see that water is always boiling and never add water that is not boiling. When bowl is taken from water let it stand a few minutes before turning out the pudding.

Sugarless Sauce to serve with the above :
1 tablesp. Sweetened Condensed Milk.
1/2 pint water, thickened with wetted cornflour. Vary by adding chopped nuts, cherries, ginger or some wine.

Posted by Matthew McMurray at 09:00 Monday, 15 September 2014.

WVS Overseas

The news for the past few weeks has been mostly dominated by horrendous events happening all over the world.  While today the Royal Voluntary Service’s purpose is to help older people, in Great Britain (as anyone who has been reading this blog will realise) this wasn’t always the case. 

WVS had a presence or connections, especially during and after the second world war in both the Middle East and West Africa, doing all manner of works as these extracts from the WVS Bulletin for May 1946 show.

“In Iran and Iraq there was naturally a great deal of Services welfare for WVS to do, and canteens, clubs, hospitality, knitting and mending for the Forces formed the chief part of their work.

In Abadan (Iran) the WVS consisted almost entirely of the wives of the officials of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, who knitted and mended for the troops, did canteen work, raised money for war charities, made clothes for Polish refugees and organised parties for Servicemen.

Iraq also had working parties in Bagdad, and produced hospital supplies for the Middle East, clothes for Greece and for the bombed-out people at home, as well as parcels for prisoners of war. They ran hospital libraries, visited men in hospital and arranged private hospitality for the troops.

In Sierra Leone Services welfare was the main activity of WVS, who ran clubs and canteens for the Allied Forces in Freetown. It also had an information bureaux and organised drives for the raising of money and the collection of rubber.

Nigeria, for instance, felt that some good use should be made of the large quantities of goat and sheep skins which were available in the country, so—over a dinner table at an evening party in 1940—it was decided by a small group of friends to try to raise a little money to produce leather jackets to send to England as comforts for the Fighting Services and Civil Defence. The Fund flourished and the work grew: it christened itself the Windcheater Leather Jacket Fund and it eventually produced an average of 1100 jackets per month, which were sent to England and distributed”

Posted by Matthew McMurray at 09:00 Monday, 08 September 2014.

Labels: Iraq, Iran, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Services Welfare, Goat Skin, canteen, Knitting, mending, Anglo-Iranian Oil company, freetown

Reports from Everywhere - August 1954

Continuing our monthly series, here are some reports from WVS centers 60 years ago this month.

Sevenoaks RD A member was horrified to find a mother of four utterly work out. The eldest child, epileptic, was uncontrollable. After representations to the authorities by WVS the child was removed and the mother had a holiday while the County Council took charge of the others. Now she is a different woman.

Worthing B Two WVS husbands gave up a Saturday to packing, moving and stacking about a ton of clothing, and our local NSPCC inspector offered voluntarily to give up a day to help us when we move premises.

Leeds A member attending training at Headquarters stayed with her wartime evacuee in Bromley – An example of a happy outcome of successful evacuation. She remembers how she came to accept her evacuees and helped them in many different kinds of trouble.

Epsom & Ewell Work in hospitals continues successfully. One Sister said, “You can make the old men do much more than we can. What is it you have that we haven’t?” We want to guard against patients becoming tired of doing the same things, and a new member, a handicraft expert, has promised to show our workers several new “Occupations”.

Haltemprice (North) Efforts were unsuccessful in finding a job for a young man handicapped by a deformed arm and little education, so a WVS member is instructing him in English and arithmetic for one-hour every evening. 

Marple The police telephoned to ask if we could equip a family of four with clothes, their wooden bungalow having been burnt out the previous evening and nothing saved. We contacted Houldsworth Street, Manchester, immediately and asked a member to run into town. She was back at 12:30, besides the clothing there were blankets and linen – all much appreciated.

Posted by Matthew Mcmurray at 09:00 Monday, 25 August 2014.

Spinach and Beet - Part 4

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


It was the Godmother's turn to be invited to a party at the local Orphanage today - and at first it was quite the most solemn and “sticky” occasion I have ever attended! Cups of tea and cakes were handed round by grave-faced young people, and it was almost impossible to get a smile out of them in response to our well-meant attempts at humour.

Presently, however, we noticed a lightening of the grim atmosphere when a small boy, Ernie, started to conduct groups of Godmothers and orphans out into the garden—from which they returned with an “I-know-something-you-don’t-know” air of barely-concealed triumph. At last Ernie approached me and asked, in a hoarse Cockney whisper, whether I would like to come and see “my water-otter.” I gladly agreed, and several of us accompanied him (somewhat incredulously) to the small stream which runs through a corner of the grounds. There, nearly hidden amongst the weeds, was an old tin kettle. “It’s a water ’otter,” Ernie explained delightedly, “ it ’ots water! ” Bless him!

His joke started us off on a lighter note and we returned to the Home to exchange others about ‘cherry coloured cats with rose-coloured paws,’ to the joy of the Orphans who had not heard these hoary jests before.

Recipe – From the WVS Bulletin, May 1950

Meringue Cake.

  • 1 1/4 cups plain flour 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder 2 egg yolks, unbeaten 1/2 teaspoon salt 7 tablespoons milk
  • 4 tablesp. butter or margarine 1/2 teaspoon vanilla For Meringue top—2 whites of eggs ; 1/2 cup sugar.

Sift flour once, then measure, add baking powder and salt, sift together three times. Cream butter thoroughly, add sugar gradually, and cream together until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Add flavouring. Put into greased baking tin. Beat egg whites until foamy throughout, add sugar, 2 tablesp. at a time, beating after each addition until sugar is thoroughly blended. Continue beating until mixture stands in peaks. Spread over the cake batter. Bake in a moderate oven for about 50 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes to cool, then remove carefully from cake tin.

To decorate for a party : Trim 3 half egg shells neatly with scissors, vandyking edges. Fix to top of cake with a little icing, and fill with fragments of spring blossoms—one primroses, one violets and one prunus.

Posted by Matthew McMurray at 00:00 Monday, 18 August 2014.

Would you be able to tell me...?

The days here at the archive are so varied. As volunteers, we get the opportunity to work on and explore so many aspects of the work of the charity; especially since the enquiry service opened in January 2013.

This has enabled anyone who is interested in exploring the rich history of WVS/WRVS to ask questions; giving us the opportunity to delve into the boxes and files and discover so much about the organisation, its history and its dedicated volunteers.

In the last year and a half we have received over 350 enquiries asking us to provide information on subjects ranging from family history to helping with local events and media projects.

We’ve provided uniforms for the BBC’s 'Call the Midwife' Christmas special; helped a local museum research and re-produce some camouflage netting (a task which WVS volunteers would have undertaken during the Second World War).

We were also able to locate the membership card of a member who volunteered during the Second World War, providing her family with a better understanding of her valuable work as a volunteer (Probably a 1 in 1,000 chance!)

One enquiry I particularly enjoyed researching was finding material for a lady who wanted to throw a party to celebrate a volunteer who had provided over 50 years of service for Books on Wheels. I was able to find narrative reports, posters, leaflets and even a car card which will be used to create a display - a lovely way for the volunteer to reminisce about her time with the charity.

So why not ask a question and find out what we can uncover for you?

Posted by Hannah Tinkler at 00:00 Monday, 04 August 2014.

WVS and the Queen's Dock, Glasgow.

If you have been watching the Commonwealth Games coverage on the television then you will probably know that the games park is built on part of the old Queen’s Dock. Built in the 1870s the docks went into decline in the latter part of the 20th century and were filled in with rubble in 1977. During the Second World War they were a vital part of the War effort receiving supplies from across the Empire to fuel our fighting forces.

As part of our work in Glasgow through the war we ran several Mobile canteens in the city, some of which served the docks. The Queen’s Dock was one of these.

In the Archive we have the Glasgow mobile canteen day book which lists the daily trials and tribulations of the canteens on their daily rounds. Below are just a few of the entries about the Queen’s Dock.

12 November 1941: “Queen’s Dock complain about shortage of Soup Spoons. Say only 4 on Canteen. Have supplied with 1 doz from drawer”.

24 November 1941: “Tel. message from Queen’s Dock saying they were short of food and could they have more Pies & Sausage Rolls and teabread. Phoned Princes dock to see if they had any food to spare but they were just getting busy & thought their food would all be required. Phoned Reids and they will be able to give us 14 pies, 2 to 3 doz Sandwich rolls & extra tea-bread. Mrs Brunton, driver of the Queen’s Dock Canteen calling for it”.

25 October 1942: “Queen’s Dock were practically sold out by 12 o’clock owing to great number of troops – brought loaves & took down jam & marg from office – Phoned Mrs Stephenson & asked if we could take 12 doz Cakes ordered for Parade and give them Biscuits instead – She initially Agreed & at parade Lady Dollan said that Biscuits were quite sufficient.”

Posted by Matthew McMurray at 00:00 Monday, 28 July 2014.

Labels: Commonwealth Games, Queen's Dock, Glasgow Mobile canteen, WVS

A volunteer's perspective - What I've been up to:

Pete Franks

A lot has happened since I last wrote something for the Heritage Bulletin back in July 2012. It is hard to believe that over two years have gone by.

Back then I was helping in the massive effort to repackage all of our Narrative Reports, a small contribution to the 120,000 that between us we managed to do.

Since then I catalogued all of the posters we have in the collection here in Devizes which you can now see on the online catalogue.

For the last year though I have been immersed in the world of marketing photographs from the 1990s and early 2000s. When I started I was presented with eight boxes of photographic prints, negatives and CD-roms, all of which had very little discernible order! My job for the last 12 months has been to try and put these back in their original order or where this is impossible to impose something logical.

As I leaf through the thousands of pictures there is the joy of disposing of the utterly irrelevant, such as pictures of dogs, hands and plates of food; pictures with little or no long term historical value. Also the elation of finding one of the pictures amongst the thousands in a publication and being able to reunite it with its context; a eureka moment (especially when I have remembered the picture from several months before).

I had a short break (escape) to take photographs of our collection of enamel badges (I’m a bit of an amateur photographer), before diving back in. Currently I am laboriously writing reference numbers on the back of each image, a task which is almost at its end (I hope to finish in October, Phew!)

I guess when that is done, I’ll have to scan then in and then catalogue them. Might be let off in 2018! In time for the 80th Anniversary!

When I requested this job all that time back, I fondly remember our Archivist, Matthew saying “be careful what you wish for, you may get it” I certainly have!

Posted by Pete Franks at 09:00 Monday, 21 July 2014.

Labels: Pete Franks, Photographs, Marketing, Dogs, Food, Badges

Spinach and Beet - Part 3

This month’s extract form the diary of a Centre Organiser comes from the WVS Bulletin, May 1950


Our coachload of festival-bound “Darbies and Joans” was held up in a traffic jam on the outskirts of London. After ten minutes or so, impatient hoots and toots began from the motor horns of the vehicles surrounding us, and soon the air was hideous with sound. Drivers’ faces became purple with ill-concealed impatience and remarks—far from complimentary—were hurled at the Police who were doing their best to push to one side the broken-down van which was causing the hold-up. What might have developed into a quite ugly scene was suddenly transformed into a humorous one by a “Bobby” who climbed on to a car and, raising his baton began to “conduct” the orchestra of discordant klaxons. Smiles replaced frowns, and good temper was restored all round!

Recipe – From the WVS Bulletin, January 1949

Frosted Sandwich Loaf - as the piece de resistance;

1 loaf of Day Old Bread. Various fillings.

Mayonnaise. Cream Cheese.

Remove all crusts and cut into slices, 1/4 in. thick at least. Make tiered sandwich block by spreading the foundation slice with mayonnaise, then a layer of filling : spread each subsequent slice with mayonnaise on both sides, leaving the top of the last slice without mayonnaise. Between each slice put a different coloured filling, eg tomato, parsley, egg, corned beef, sardine, lettuce, etc. When complete press very firmly. Soften cream cheese with a little milk, beat until fluffy and frost outside of block completely. Garnish with parsley. Leave in a cool place for at least one hour. Slice crosswise to serve.

Posted by Matthew Mcmurray at 09:00 Monday, 14 July 2014.

Labels: Frosted Sandwich loaf, mayonaise, Darby and Joan club, London, Policeman, Road Rage, conductor, Spinach and beet, WVS, Bulletin