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

Spinach and beet - Part 15

In case you had been missing our regular columns over the past month, no fear, the Diary of a Centre Organiser is back! This time from December 1949.

MONDAY

We were asked to visit a woman who is the mother of nine children and who is expecting the tenth within a few days. "I'm dreadfully tired of having babies," she complained.
"Then why don't you stop ?" demanded Mrs Blunt, who accompanied me.
The woman sighed. "It's the only way I know of to keep the youngest from being spoiled," she said.

TUESDAY

When our Regional Administrator paid a visit today to one of our longest-established "Darby and Joan" Clubs she recognised a grey-bearded old man who had told her his age was 77 when she last saw him. "That was four years ago, wasn't it," she suggested, "so now you must be . . . ?"
"77," he maintained solidly.
"But how is that," she asked him." Do explain."
"Explain ?" he spluttered indignantly. "There's nothing to explain. Do I look the sort of chap who would be telling you one thing one day and something else the next ?"

THURSDAY

Our County Organiser passed on an excellent tip she had picked up at the recent conference at Ashridge. "One of our members who distributes Welfare Foods keeps an eye on the laundry lines," a speaker had told the audience, "and directly she sees a row of nappies she calls at the house with orange juice and cod liver oil. It's wonderful how the number of bottles distributed by her has increased since she adopted this plan."

FRIDAY

The Centre has collected a lot of pot plants for distribution at Christmas to the more bedridden of our Meals on Wheels clients - and there will even be some over. A worried-looking man, peering through our window, ventured in to ask if we could let him have a geranium for his wife who was coming out of hospital. "I'm afraid we haven't any geraniums," Miss MacFee told him, "but we have some nice potted chrysanthemums - and here's a very pretty cyclamen."
"No, they won't do," was the gloomy reply. "It's a geranium I promised my wife I'd water for her while she was away."

Recipe

Sultana Cake

1 lb flour
1/2 lb butter or margarine
1/2 lb castor sugar
3 eggs
1/2 lb sultanas
1/4 lb glace cherries
1 teasp Baking Powder
1 breakfastcup milk
Pinch of salt

Cream butter and sugar. Sift in the flour, salt and baking powder. Add eggs one at a time, then the milk. Beat all well together for 10 minutes. Grease and paper a cake tin. Pour in mixture and bake in a moderate oven for 1 1/2 hours. When cool cover with plain white icing and decorate.

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 14 September 2015.

Labels: recipe, Saltana Cake, Welfare Foods, babies, Darby and Joan, Ashridge, meals on Wheels, Geraniums, chrysanthemums, cyclamen, Hospital

Long to reign over us

Today Her Majesty The Queen becomes our longest serving monarch, and Royal Voluntary Service, one of the many charities of which she is Patron, wishes her every happiness.

We have a long association with the Royal family, in fact back to before our foundation. Our first Patron in 1938 was Queen Mary, who was so instrumental in galvanising and leading Home front efforts in the First World War and who had a profound influence of on our founder Lady Reading encouraging and supporting her in the formation of the WVS ahead of that second terrible 20th century conflict. She would be followed later that year when Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) who consented to be our president, a position she actively held until her death in 2002.

It was not until 1953 on the death of Queen Mary and her ascent to the throne that Queen Elizabeth II became our Patron. But this was not the first or the last time that the WVS would be associated with our current reigning monarch. As Princess Elizabeth, our members were always ready to help, and in early 1948 were responsible for sorting, packing and sending out over 1,0000 parcels a day of gifts of food sent to Princess Elizabeth from the Dominions and Colonies at the time of her wedding. WVS was also entrusted with the task of dusting the Royal Wedding Presents while they were on view at St. James's Palace.

The Royal Wedding was a huge occasion in the long hard years of recovery after the war and one celebrated to the fore by members of the WVS. In all they collected £901 18s 10d, the majority of which was used to buy the Princess a refrigerator.

In 1966, on August 4 to be precise, Her Majesty conferred on the WVS the honour of adding Royal to their name, a thank you for the sacrifice of members during the Second World War and in the long recovery afterwards. It is a title we still treasure to this day.

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 09:00 Wednesday, 09 September 2015.

Labels: Wedding presents, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary, Colonies, Dominions, Food gifts, Heritage Bulletin Blog, RVS, WRVS, WVS

Easing the plight of refugees

Listening to the news reports on the refugee crisis this morning, we thought we would share with you some of the ways in which WVS volunteers have helped refugees, both in this country and abroad, over the years.

The Refugee Department of the WVS was opened in May 1940 to meet the needs of War Refugees on the invasion of Holland and Belgium and later on the collapse of France, and the invasion of the Channel Islands. WVS helped with the meeting and transport of refugees and their care at reception centres in the London area. After billeting, support continued at local WVS Centres, providing temporary homes, clothing, activities, and employment. For example in 1940 a refugee from Guernsey, who was a dressmaker, was provided with a sewing machine so that she could earn a living in Britain. The WVS continues to help thousands of refugees from Poland, and in 1956 some 12,000 Hungarians.

In 1959, World Refugee Year, the WVS set up an adoption scheme, through which individuals and WVS Centres could support refugee families, particularly in Germany, Africa and the Middle East. They provided gifts of money, food, fuel, and clothing, but as relationships formed they were able to send more personal gifts such as paints for artists, wool and knitting needles, soap, razor blades, and handkerchiefs.

In 1961 many refugees from Tristan da Cunha were housed in an ex-army camp in Caterham. Caterham and Godstone WVS, with the help of Oxted, Sevenoaks Rural, and Reigate, cleaned, furnished and equipped the camp, and undertook all the cooking for the first ten days. They were responsible for welfare, daily social activities, and games for the children, and they ran a shop in the old NAAFI.

The WRVS Settlement Section were on hand to support the arrival of some 2,500 Czechs in 1968, and some 2,000 Ugandan Asians in 1973. Many arrived almost destitute, knowing little or no English, and friendless. The WRVS provided free English lessons, venues to meet fellow exiles, help with Social Security, furniture, jobs, and education.

In many case members set up lasting friendships with the individuals and families. Here at the archive we store several items of memorabilia and gifts connected with these relationships including the beautiful model boat from Tristan de Cunha pictured here.

Posted by Sheridan Parsons, Archive volunteer at 00:00 Thursday, 03 September 2015.

Labels: refugees, Baroness Warsi, Today programme, Radio 4, Hungarain, Trisan da Cunha, Poland, Holland , Belgium , Ugandan Asians, Czech, Caterham, Godstone, Oxted, Sevenoaks, Reigate

I'm fine thanks!

Today I thought I would share with you all a poem that one of the volunteers found this morning and had them all chuckling away at how true it was. It was written by a member of the WRVS CAMEO. Luncheon Club, Lytham St. Annes for their Christmas party in 1973. The club was run for the physically handicapped and elderly people of the town. Its name means ‘Come And Meet Each Other’

I'M FINE, THANKS!

There is nothing the matter with me,
I'm as healthy as can be,
I have arthritis in both my knees
And when I talk, I talk with a wheeze;
My pulse is weak and my blood is thin
But, I'm awfully good for the shape I'm in.
Arch supports I have for my feet
Or I wouldn't be able to be on the street,
Sleep is denied me every night,
But every morning I find I'm all right.
My memory is failing, my head's in a spin
But I'm awfully well for the shape I'm in.

The moral is this, as this tale I unfold,
That for you and me who are growing old,
It's better to say ''I'm fine" with a grin,
Than to let folks know the shape we are in.
How do I know that my youth is all spent?
Well, my "get up and go" has" got up and went",
But I don't really mind when I think with a grin
Of all the grand places my "get-up" has been.

Old age is golden, I have heard it said,
But sometimes I wonder as I get into bed,
With my ears in a drawer, my teeth in a cup,
My eyes on the table for when I wake up;
Ere sleep comes to me - I say to myself
Is there anything else I should lay on the shelf?

When I was young my slippers were red,
I could kick my heels right over my head,
When I grew older my slippers were blue,
But I still could dance the whole night through.
Now I'm old - my slippers are black,
I walk to the store and puff my way back,
I get up each morning and dust off my wits,
Pick up the papers and read the Obits.,
If my name is still missing, I know I'm not dead
So I get a good breakfast and go back to bed.

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 24 August 2015.

Labels: Old age, Poem, Lytham, memory, teeth, old age, slippers

The conservation problems of Molly Blake!

This week I thought I would bring you something a little different from the ordinary.

As regular readers of this blog may know I have been (for nearly two years now, in between other things) working my way through and digitising for preservation purposes copies of our WVS/WRVS Bulletin. I have now got to the 1970s and the issues from these years are dominated by the beautiful illustrations of Molly Blake.

Molly worked for WRVS for many years in the property department at our offices in Old Park Lane, London, but also provided illustrations for posters, books, and not infrequently on her memos.

Not only do we have the published versions of her illustrations, but also some of the originals. One might naturally assume that the originals will be better than the printed versions, but this as you will see is not the case.

Like many artists and illustrators (myself included, I was an archaeological illustrator in a former life) we cheat a lot of the time. Molly’s drawings, usually in pen and ink on drawing film or paper provide an interesting example of the ravages of time, on both ink and glue. Changes to drawings, like in the example below, often involved drawing a new character and then literally pasting it with glue into the scene. The completed drawing could them be copied by the printer and it would look like a seamless illustration done all in one.

Unfortunately in the 40 odd years since these illustrations were done the glue has yellowed, ruining the illusion and in some cases the characters are falling out of their scenes as the glue has become brittle and ineffective. The other issue is bleeding of the ink, as you can see below, where the illustrations have got damp, not being stored in the best conditions for much of their life.

 

Printed copy from the WRVS Magazine

Original version, with bleeding ink

We are doing our best to preserve these precious illustrations for the future and properly packaged and stored hopefully the ink won't bleed anymore, the glue though is another problem!

I hope you liked this brief look at Molly’s work, and hopefully I can bring you some more in the future.

All illustrations copyright © Molly Blake.

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 09:00 Tuesday, 18 August 2015.

Labels: Washing up , WRVS, Molly Blake, Heritage Bulletin Blog, Disabled, Conservation, Illustations, Drawings, WRVS Bulletin

Spinach and beet - Part 14

This week's Diary of a Centre Organiser comes from the WVS Bulletin, November 1951

Thursday

Matron is always glad when a young son or daughter, nephew or niece, accompanies one or more of our Trolley Shop team on their weekly rounds at the Old People’s Hospital. The patients enjoy seeing the children and one of them, 86 year old Mr Croke, gives great joy as a rule by moving sideways on his water-bed so that a glup-glup noise is made as he rocks the contents. Today, however, no smile broke the solemnity of a young visitor’s face when Mr Croke did his trick. Instead, overwhelmed with curiosity, the small boy took a step forward and asked anxiously : “If I put my finger in your mouth, would I feel the water?”

Friday

Have not yet found a niche in W.V.S. for Miss Pheckless. Had wondered whether she could deliver some of our Meals on Wheels, but my eye happened to light on an entry for August (when I was away) in our office Day Book which read : “Police called to ask us to remove some containers which had been standing outside No 5 London Street (an empty, boarded-up house) for some days and which were causing annoyance to the neighbours. Sent Miss Brown to collect them.” A later entry stated : “Miss Brown reported the containers were without lids, were buzzing with flies and smelling violently. Have traced that the meals were left by Miss Pheckless instead of at No 5 London Road.” Felt ashamed of myself for not reading the August entries before: what is the use of keeping a Day Book if nobody reads it? Was glad to discover due apologies had been sent to No 5 London Road.

Recipe

Tunny Fish en Casserole

1 medium size tin tunny fish
1 medium size onion (chopped)
3 packets potato crisps
Pepper and salt
1 tin mushroom soup

Line a casserole dish with one packet of potato crisps. Break the tunny fish into small pieces. Place part of it in the casserole, then a small quantity of the chopped onion; repeat until supply of tunny fish and onion are exhausted. Pour into the casserole the tin of soup (which has previously been heated) and put into a moderate oven for about half an hour. Cover the top with a layer of potato crisps, return to the oven for another ten minutes, garnish with parsley and serve.

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 00:00 Tuesday, 11 August 2015.

Labels: WVS, WRVS, RVS, heritage Bulletin Blog, Hospital , Old people, Meals on Wheels , recipe, Tunny Fish casserole, Trolley Shop

Anyone who had a heart... Gives us a hand

I have returned to work this morning (from a wonderful holiday) to the sad news that the great singer and entertainer Cilla Black has died and I thought I would make a small tribute .

Back in 1998 Cilla was an ambassador for WRVS in our diamond anniversary year and helped us by supporting our give us a hand Campaign. The campaign sought to encourage people to volunteer with WRVS and to lend a hand in their local communities. A number of celebrities pledged their support by drawing around their hands, cutting them out and sending them to us to hang on a tree. You can read more about the campaign and see some of the celebrity hands on our timeline.

Cilla helped us launch the campaign at the Waldorf Hotel in London along with our chairman Lady Elizabeth Toulson and Cilla presented two of the volunteers who attended with a bottle of champagne! John and Mary Maisey, who volunteered at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, spent the first night of their honeymoon at the Waldorf in 1968 and hadn’t been back since!

Thank you Cilla.

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 09:30 Monday, 03 August 2015.

Labels: Give us a hand, Cilla Black, Campaign, WRVS, Women's Royal Voluntary Service

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.

MONDAY

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.)

TUESDAY

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.”

THURSDAY

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.
Milk
Flour
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