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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An early Christmas Gift - WVS Bulletin

The blog is a wee bit late this week, but for a very good reason, and we hope you will forgive us. It will also be the last of the year as I am off on my Christmas Holidays.

We have decided to give everyone an early Christmas present, one that the elves here have been working on for over 3 years.

Today sees the culmination of our Bulletin project!

We have painstakingly scanned, OCR’ed and edited all 419 editions of the Bulletin/Magazine from 1939-1974 and loaded them onto our online catalogue. You can now search the entire text, and then view and download the original documents.

All for free!

Try a search today

This is our first major foray into the world of providing access to our archive material digitally and we hope that it is a big success. There are 8,444 pages which contain stories from around the country of WVS and WRVS work covering 35 years; from tales of the evacuation, to welcoming the Ugandan Asian Refugees as well as Food Flying Squad competitions.

If you enjoy ‘Spinach and Beet’ every month, you can read every unedited edition, and indulge yourself with hundreds of recipes from ‘food news’.

Family historians will love all editions after 1961 which include the names of all recipients of the WVS Long Service Medal!

There is so much to discover, where will you begin?

It‘s all part of the continuing development of our collections, opening them up as a resource for all to enjoy and explore. This though is just the tip of a very large iceberg. The Bulletin represents only 0.05% of our collection and we are going to need your help in the future to make access to more available.

If you want to know more about the Bulletin and Magazine keep reading, as we’ve posted another blog below with a few details.

Happy Christmas

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 08:02 Thursday, 10 December 2015.

Labels: WVS Bulletin , Christmas present, Online catalogue, spinach and Beet, From the Centres, Food news, Long Service Medal, Food Flying Squad, Ugandan Asians, WRVS Magazine

The story of a magazine

Today Royal voluntary Service has released online its first major digitised collection of material, all 419 issues of the WVS Bulletin. To celebrate, we thought we would take a closer look at the history of the Bulletin.

The WVS/WRVS Bulletin/Magazine is a fantastic and accessible window onto the world of work undertaken by WRVS members over a 36 year period, following the fashion and trends of the periods it describes. Most importantly it is one of the best starting points for discovering more about the amazing work of the Women in Green.

The first issue of the WVS Bulletin was produced in November 1939, just two months after the outbreak of WWII when the WVS had a membership of over 300,000 and a way to communicate with them all directly was sorely needed. The Bulletin was produced every month for 35 years, from 1938-1974 over 419 issues.

The first thirteen issues of the Bulletin were a simple typescript, with the first covering just five sides of foolscap paper, and included news on subjects such as Evacuation, ARP, Transport and Hospital Supplies. It also showed the amazing ability of WVS to attract new members, with 110,000 welcomed in the month of September alone.

From December 1940, the Bulletin became a printed newsletter of eight pages, covering important information for members as well as a way of sharing tips and good ideas pioneered by one WVS centre for replication across the whole country. This reporting of goings on from centres all over Great Britain became a staple of the bulletin, with the ‘From the Centres’ latterly the ‘Reports from Everywhere’ column surviving until the very end of publication.

The first picture (a black and white cartoon from Punch magazine) appeared in February 1942, though pictures were a rare occurrence during the war, the first photograph was not printed until April 1947. While the war had been going on, there had been no need to include adverts, but as funding was reduced post war, it became a necessity.

The first advert appeared in April 1947 (perhaps to pay for the inclusion of the picture!) and was for the Listener Magazine. This was the start of a very long term relationship with the BBC which posted large adverts for its magazines and books in almost every edition of the Bulletin/Magazine after this point. Though initially the adverts were all for the BBC or Information from Government Ministries, the first commercial advert was run for ‘Milton’ (disinfectant) in November 1948. After that the number of commercial adverts increased significantly over the years as the number of pages in the Bulletin grew. By the end of its run in 1974 the WRVS Magazine was regularly 36 pages.

In April 1970 the Bulletin changed its name to the WRVS Magazine, but sadly publication ceased in December 1974. Members had always had to pay for the bulletin themselves with it initially costing one penny per issue. Sadly over time its popularity declined and by the late 1960’s were only printing about 5,000 copies. The price had risen to 50p annually by 1974 and they did not have enough subscribers to make it financially viable.

Posted by Matthew McMurray at 08:00 Thursday, 10 December 2015.

Labels: WVS Bulletin, WRVS Magazine, Newsletter, Communicate, Women in Green, Evacuation, Reports from Everywhere, From the Centres, Adverts

Spinach and Beet - Part 17

This month’s diary of a Centre Organiser comes from July 1949

Got chatting to a delightful American airman in the ’bus and found myself inviting him at his own - urgent - request to our Darby and Joan Club. He was an enormous success with the old people (having just the right touch of deference alternating with impudence!) - except, perhaps, in the case of one of our slightly deaf “Joans”. Our visitor, chewing the inevitable gum, sat down opposite her and they gazed at each other in silence for a moment or two. Then “Joan” shook her head resignedly. “It’s very good of you, young man, to try to talk to an old woman,” she told him. “ But I can’t hear a word you’re saying !”

Could it have been, I wonder, because news of our interest in the prevention of Juvenile Delinquency is becoming known that a woman brought her small son to the office and treated us to a history of his “crimes”? “And yesterday evening, what did he do?” she finished. “Ate the whole of our week’s rations of butter and margarine, a whole fruit cake - and half pound of biscuits (on points, mind you) as well !” “Did you spank him ?” Miss Blank asked her over the top of her typewriter. The woman flushed indignantly. “I don’t believe in corporal punishment,” she declared. “No. I sent him to bed without any supper.”

Called to see Mrs Matron, mother of four small children, on my way to the office - to explain about a new “Sitter-in” we had found for her. She was hanging out her washing and in addition to clothes, coloured streamers and flags danced gaily on the line in the breeze. “Somebody’s birthday?” I suggested brightly. Mrs Matron laughed and shook her head. “It’s the first time for eight years that there aren’t any nappies on the line,” she said. “I had to celebrate it somehow !” And talking of “ Sitters-in,” Mrs Truefit brought us the following story which she picked up in the uniform department at Tothill Street: - Small boy: “Daddy, when Mummy dies, please will you marry the Sitter-in ?”



Cover any fresh soft fruit with sugar and leave to draw the juice. Drain off juice and pass fruit through a wire sieve. Make some custard with a large cup of milk, 1 dessertspoon cornflour, 1 tablespoon sugar and yolk of one egg. Dissolve 3/4 oz. powdered gelatine in a little of the fruit juice. Mix sieved fruit, custard and gelatine together. Beat up the whites of two eggs until stiff and then fold into the fruit mixture very gently. Tie a piece of greased paper round the souffle dish making the paper a few inches higher than the dish. Pour in the souffle mixture and place in the refrigerator until quite firm. Take off paper and decorate with mock cream and glace cherries.


3 tablespoons cocoa or chocolate powder
1 tin household milk powder
4 tablespoons water
2 oz. margarine
8 oz. sugar

Dissolve the sugar in water in a strong pan over a low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the margarine. When melted add a small teaspoon of flavouring, together with milk powder and cocoa, previously sieved. Beat until smooth and thick. Pour into a greased tin to get firm. Cut into squares when cold and quite set.

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 00:00 Tuesday, 01 December 2015.

Labels: American Airman, Crimes, Corporal punishments, Sitter in, Nappies, fruit soufle , recipe, chocolate fudge