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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Some recent enquiries...

Here at the archive much of our time is spent answering enquiries from members of the public and Royal Voluntary Service staff and volunteers, in fact we receive about 200 a year. But like London buses they all seem to come along at once.

This month we have had a small deluge of family and local history enquiries, requests from students and media companies to authors and people looking to donate material to the archive.

One of my favourite requests was from a gentleman who has donated 200 Civil Defence Welfare Section recipe cards to the archive (which as I write this have yet to arrive). Each card with a different recipe for feeding 5,000 people at a time, imagine that, the quantities are mind boggling!

We also had request for information on one of our Regional Administrators during the war, Mrs Vera Dart who looked after Region 10 (Cumberland, Lancashire and Cheshire for the uninitiated!) for an author who is publishing a book about her.

A lady rang up asking us to identify what had come in a small white cardboard box, which had “presented by Lady Reading 1940” written on the back. The answer? It was her WVS membership badge. A lucky lady to be presented with it by the Chairman!

We have also lent out this month our entire stock of wartime loan uniforms for events being held by Royal Voluntary Services around the country, they have been at the Dig for Victory Show in Bristol, as wells as other promotional events around the country from Sheffield to Hampshire, the uniforms always attracting much attention.

Finally in this small selection, we have helped an academic who is looking at how our narrative reports might be able to help track changes in society and policy over time. This may turn out to be an exciting project for the future!

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 27 July 2015.

Labels: Region 10 , WVS, WRVS, RVS, Archive , Enquiries, Recipes, Vera Dart, Lady Reading , Narrative Reports

Reports from everywhere - July 1946

Welwyn Garden City WVS were called in by the SSAFA Secretary to help with clothing for a GI bride with a child of two, sailing at very short notice, whose husband had sent her no cash for expenses.

Kingsbridge RA, Devon, are in close touch with housing progress in their area, as three WVS members are on the Rural District Council and four are co-opted on the Housing and Public Health Committees.

Keynsham UD WVS, Somerset, have been running an infant welfare centre continuously since 1939, the administration in the hands of WVS, and doctors and district nurse acting in an advisory capacity.

Bristol WVS are taking a large part in the work of welfare clinics and the hospitals, are giving useful help and advice in rehabilitation cases, assisting with broadcasts on diphtheria immunisation, reading to the blind, minding children whilst their parents are out and preparing materials and teaching embroidery to the wounded in hospital.

Portsmouth CB WVS were asked by the Naval Welfare Department and by SSAFA to undertake all their accommodation problems, which has kept them very busy. The return of ships from the Far East has also meant that relatives from all parts of the country have been writing asking for WVS help in booking accommodation for them.

Burgess Hill’s 25 Dutch children are now back in Holland, and WVS are receiving glowing accounts from their parents of the change in the children and the benefits they have received from their stay in England. Firm friendships have been formed and warm invitations received for the hostesses and their children to visit Holland later on.

Bishops Stortford WVS have made 58 Hospital Car Service journeys during the month for regular treatment cases, and have also been driving at the request of the Herts County Medical Department. From their “mixed bag” of enquiries come the following : The vicar sought a convalescent home for one of his parishioners ; a dentist required rooms for his nurse receptionist ; and a grandmother asked for the loan of a cot as her grandchild was coming on a short visit.

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 20 July 2015.

Labels: Kingsbridge, Keynsham, Bristol, Portsmouth, Burgess Hill, Welwyn Garden City, Bishops Stortford, Hospital Car Service, Dutch children, SSAFA, naval welfare, Welfare Clinics, GI bride

Spinach and beet - Part 13

This Month’s extract from the Diary of a Centre Organiser and our recipe come from August 1950.


Found a white-faced Miss MacFee hovering in the doorway when I arrived at the office to-day. “ The telephone’s out of order—and he’s in there,” she flung at me and rushed into the street. A most charming-looking little boy beamed a welcome when, greatly alarmed, I opened the door : his fair, curly hair reminding me of the picture of “ Bubbles ” ; and Miss MacFee’s behaviour seemed unaccountable. However, when I subsequently learned his “history” I felt every sympathy with her and her hurry to telephone the Welfare Officer : the small innocent-eyed person had wrung the neck of a chicken, attempted to strangle a kitten and that morning had nearly throttled his younger brother! (His mother, a Clothing Exchange frequenter, had dumped him on us in despair while on her way to the Hospital with his latest victim.)


So far the meals for our “ Meals on Wheels ” scheme in the suburb of Nearleigh have been cooked by a local cafe : but with a change of management the quality of them has deteriorated disastrously with a resultant dropping in numbers. Have definitely decided W.V.S. shall do the cooking in future (as we already do for the rest of the town). Proprietor of cafe not pleased at decision and had his own explanation for the fall in numbers : “ They’re so excellent, the meals I serve,” he said aggressively, “ and the old folks feel so much better for them, that that’s why they’re not ordering any more.”


I realise only too well that I am by no means as efficient as the regular “ Meals on Wheels ” helpers and when I—quite humbly—asked if I should take the place of a member who had fallen out at the last moment I was only “ allowed ” to do so after repeated instructions about bringing back the lids of containers and never leaving a meal without getting the money for it. Was horror-stricken, therefore, when old Mrs. Chaw greeted me with the words : “ It’s my free day to-day ”—but subsequently learned she meant she was free from cooking a meal on Thursdays (and how glad she was to be so), and returned triumphantly with her shilling.

Tomato Puffs

6 firm but ripe tomatoes
Pepper, salt and grated nutmeg
A little melted butter, chopped parsley, chives
1 egg.
Fat for frying

Skin the tomatoes and cut into thick slices. Then place on a plate, sprinkling the slices with chives, parsley and nutmeg. Prepare the batter for frying one hour before it is needed. Beat the egg, add a cup of milk and enough flour to make a thick batter. Season well with pepper and salt, adding a spoonful of cold water and melted butter. Beat well. Cover then stand aside.

Have the fat smoking hot : dip the tomato slices in the batter and fry, turning until they become well puffed and a rich golden brown.

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 13 July 2015.

Labels: Tomatoe puffs, recipe, Meals on Wheels, Spinach and beet, WRVS, WVS, Chicken, kitten, Strangulation

Aluminium pans into Spitfires!

This week’s blog commemorates the beginning of the battle of Britain on 10 July 1940 and one of the many roles that the WVS played in helping to defend our shores from the Luftwaffe.

THE APPEAL FOR ALUMINIUM made by Lord Beaverbrook, Minister for Aircraft Production, to the women of Britain ended with these words; "The need is instant. The call is urgent. Our expectations are high".

The Chairman said in her broadcast on July 11: "Remember too, it is the little things that count - it was the little boats that made the evacuation of Dunkirk possible".

Once again the little things achieved great results; the response to the appeal was immediate, and to the staffs of the W.V.S. offices it appeared overwhelming. Pots and pans and aluminium objects of every conceivable description poured in to the depots which were filled as soon as they opened. Every household, from Buckingham Palace, the smallest cottage, made its contribution, and in some cities the traffic was held up by mountains of aluminium. The gifts of a free people made it unnecessary to set an unwelcome precedent by requisitioning stocks in shops, and the lengthy processes necessary to recover high grade aluminium from mixed and inferior quality scrap metal were avoided. The aluminium which was brought to the WVS offices by men and women and children could be sent straight to the aircraft factories after being smelted and some donors had very definite ideas as to the allocation of their gifts.

One old lady, parting with her only hot water bottle, was clear that she wanted it made into a Spitfire, not a Hurricane, because, after careful study of the papers, she had decided that they were the best planes.

Lord Beaverbrook wrote to the Chairman: "I send you my warmest thanks for the magnificent work which your organisation is doing in the collection of aluminium pots and pans. I have been most impressed by the energetic and efficient way in which the task is being organised, and I hope you will convey to your assistants this expression of my admiration and gratitude".

[published in the WVS Bulletin August 1940]

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 06 July 2015.

Labels: aluminium, Luftwaffe, Battle of Britain, Heritage Bulletin blog , WVS, Spitfire, Salvage, Pans

Summer enquiry service closure

Unfortunately, due to staff and volunteer holidays we will be unable to offer our Archive enquiry service during the month of July. 

This summer closure will start on Friday 3 July and last until Monday 3 August when the archive enquiry service will re-open.  This will also affect our paid for research service and our image licencing service.  Any enquiries received during this period will be answered within 20 working days of the re-opening of the service on Monday 3 August.

Lots of information on the WVS, WRVS and Royal Voluntary Service is available through the our history pages our website.

We're sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 09:00 Thursday, 02 July 2015.

Labels: WRVS, RVS, Enquiry Service