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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It's that time of year when a you see a lot of pumpkins in the supermarkets mostly bought and used for decoration, recently in the news I have seen appeals for people not to just throw away the pumpkin flesh they have carved out. So here are some suggestions from the WVS Bulletin using pumpkins.
2 lb. pumpkin
1 1/2 pints " household " milk
2 oz. margarine
sugar to taste.
Peel the pumpkin, cut into dices and put into a saucepan with about 1 pint of water, add a little salt, cook until very tender.
When done, press it through a sieve, add the boiling milk, the fat, some more salt or sugar to taste (sugar preferable if possible). Boil for a few minutes, stirring all the while, and serve. (November 1943)
SAVOURY PUMPKIN PIE
2 lb. pumpkin cut in thin slices
2 lb. tomatoes
1/2 lb. bread (soaked, drained and beaten with a fork)
1/2 lb. minced meat
1 teaspoonful sweet herbs
2 tablespoonfuls melted margarin
salt, pepper and thick brown gravy.
Mix the bread, meat, herbs, salt and pepper to a smooth paste with the melted fat.
Put a layer of pumpkin slices at the bottom of a casserole, or pie-dish, add some tomato and top with pumpkin.
Pour in enough gravy to cover the last layer of pumpkin. Cover with greased paper or a lid and bake in a moderate oven for 1 hour. (November 1943)
Alternatively you could make a sweet pumpkin pie...
1 1/2 cups cooked and strained pumpkin
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon margarine
2 tablespoons molasses (treacle)
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs (reconstituted dried)
1 1/4 cups scalded milk.
Simmer pumpkin in as little water as possible for 20 minutes.
Add sugar, margarine, treacle, ginger, cinnamon and salt to pumpkin.
Add egg and milk and mix thoroughly.
Line a tin plate or sandwich tin with pastry and pour in pumpkin mixture and bake in a brisk oven. It is usual not to cover this mixture with another layer of pastry. (November 1942)
Our archives are quite literally a feast for the eyes and soul most of which surfaces when we are looking at material to make accessible as part of our ongoing work to develop the archive. This week Matthew our Archivist was cataloguing some of our Miscellaneous Memoranda* collection when he came across a set of very interesting letters written by the cream of the crop from the word 1940s of literature.
Writers included Olaf Stapledon, a creator of science fiction; Noel Streatfield and Dorothy Whipple, children’s authors; Daphne Du Maurier, romantic novelist; Cynthia Asquith a teller of ghost stories; Margaret Lane biographer of the Bronte Sisters and Beatrix Potter and Joanna Cannon writer of Pony Books and detective fiction. All these writers put pen to paper to tell Americans and Canadians, who through the Red Cross supported Nurseries for Under Fives run by WVS during the war, how children under the age of five who could not be evacuated with their families were being cared for.
Each of the letters tell a different story of visits to nurseries in Kettering, Lewes, Lyme Park, Regents Park, Sandford Park, Ringwood Hampshire, Culham Court Oxon and Shephall Bury. Inspired by the work in these nurseries they formed very detailed depictions, excitedly explaining how funds and gifts from the American Red Cross gave the children, as Daphne Du Maurier described it, “enjoyment and complete unconcern”. They also enlighten the reader describing how the children are cared for, the matrons roles in the nurseries, Christmas celebrations and the importance of meal times.
Each letter is almost like a short story or chapter from a novel displaying the writers’ individual style so this week I will end with two quotes to give your eyes a glimpse at our cave of wonders.
"At Miss Brady's call, the children came tumbling in to get ready for their mid-day meal. The shining gadgetted bathroom, with its ordinary dozens of everything - twelve towels, twelve named toothbrushes, etc, etc, reminded me of Snow White's establishment."
Cynthia Asquith writing about her visit to Court House near Lewes, Sussex
"The door opened and in came a magnificently fat Father Christmas led by two of the little boys. Father Christmas, very properly, was an American Father Christmas, Mr Bernard Carter, your Red Cross Deligate over here."
Noel Streatfield writing about her visit to the Day Nursery in Regents Park, I feel that I should point out that in scene she describes before Father Christmas appears the Matron was seen leaving the room with a number of pillows.
* (yes I know fellow archivists are shuddering at the mere mention of the word Miscellaneous but we need to respect original order and des fonds, don’t we!)
Lets take a trip back in time to this month 67 years ago where the WVS are very busy all over the country and sending in stories to the Bulletin mainly concerning unusual requests, their members and a very active Darby and Joan. Its time for the News Flashes from October 1949.
.- Many odd queries. A Polish woman from the Russian Zone of Germany asked W.V.S. to trace her husband whom she last saw before the 1914-1918 war and who sent his last letter from Philadelphia in 1919!
.- When the Meals on Wheels van broke down recently The Yorkshire Evening News loaned a van and driver. On another occasion the proprietor of a local ice cream business used his luggage brake and drove the car himself so that the old people were supplied as usual with their hot meal.
.- A request for hats came from the hospital. The " Old Folk " were going to Margate and had nothing to protect their heads from the sun. Could we help ? We have a cupboard where W.V.S. store everything and anything unnamed, and which we call " The Lost Paradise." We managed to unearth twelve very ancient and tired-looking specimens, but strange to say, fashionable now. Bought bunches of artificial flowers from a local sale to trim them, also two more felt hats at 1/- each, making a total of fourteen. They were cleaned, brushed and reshaped and sent to the hospital that very same afternoon, also three for the men.
.- Gifts of nightdresses and a dressing gown, sent into the Office in response to the Clothing Appeal, seemed providential as they were passed immediately on to a needy " Joan " who had to be rushed into hospital to undergo an operation.
.- W.V.S. staffed the Information Tent at the County Agricultural Show and afterwards provided a splendid canteen for the workmen who dismantled the stands. The men appreciated this service enormously and their only complaint was that W.V.S. had not provided a canteen for them when they erected the stands!
.- At a Carnival held in Neyland (Pembs.) recently a lorry was arranged to represent the Neyland Darby and Joan Club. Children were dressed to represent the Darbies and Joans and the W.V.S. helpers. A table was set for tea and at another Darbies were playing dominoes. This lorry gained 3rd prize.
.- Troops in transit have made full use of the Britannia Club. On three occasions the Club was opened at 7.30 a.m. for the benefit of men given shore leave. One day it was almost crowded out by a seething mass of troops in jungle green. When naval vessels were here on a four days visit large numbers of the ship's personnel were in the Club, taking part in the various tournaments and attending the dances, which they appeared to enjoy tremendously. We were delighted to receive four parcels of magazines from Ardler, Burnley, Dunkeld and Headquarters (Technical magazines). Last, but certainly not least, six parcels from Eastbourne W.V.S., who also very kindly sent a grand parcel of sheet music and song books, which were greatly appreciated by our band.
.- A member offered to make 200 cakes for a Garden Party given in aid of the local Animal Clinic. This was in answer to an appeal by Brighton Centre.
.- A Darby aged 58 cycles 1 1/2 miles weekly from outlying village of Allerthorpe to attend the recently opened Darby and Joan Club.
The front cover of this month's Bulletin reported "A plan for supplementing rations of farm workers is under trial by the Ministry of Food with the aid of W.V.S., Ipswich. Meat and cheese sandwiches and cakes are collected from a depot in the town and taken by W.V.S. to the fields. Workers pay on delivery and give orders for the next round. These farm workers seem well pleased with their cellophane-wrapped test meals."
Hence the Headline in this weeks image "Packed Meals for Thatchers".
Last Wednesday was Ask an Archivist day so I thought I would share with you some of the questions sent to us through our enquiry service.
Q: I was wondering if you could tell me when the Clothing Store in Swindon first opened and when it closed?
The clothing exchange is first mentioned in 1945 but there is no exact date for when it opened. There are no records for Swindon between 1946 and 1950 (inclusive). When the records reappear in 1951 it appears that the WVS centre in Swindon had been closed at the end of the war and then re-opened in 1951, the Clothing Exchange/Store re-opened in 1953. It is difficult to say when it closed as WRVS had a restructure in 1974 along the lines of the Local Authority and Swindon came under the Thameside District, the district office was in Swindon so I imagine the clothing store was to which is still mentioned in 1992. I imagine it was closed sometime in the late 1990s when WRVS moved its focus to older people’s welfare.
Q: Is there a WVS prayer or hymn?
Yes it was included in the 75th Anniversary Service at St Paul’s Cathedral in 2013
O Lord and Father of all mankind, who has put the spirit of generosity and self-giving into our hearts despite our self-centredness: let thy blessings rest in all its richness upon Royal Voluntary Service and all its volunteers, that strengthened and heartened by the memory and example of their founder they may give themselves for the good of the people of this realm. Grant them the joy which comes from meeting human need and thereby from serving thee; and may the will to give voluntary service, and to give it wisely and well, ever flourish and increase in them, to the benefit of their fellow men and women, and to the glory of thy name, God blessed for evermore. Amen.
Q: I wondered whether there were any historic RVS recipes that matched the classes above, and whether there was a Royal Voluntary Service recipe book or material that I could promote at an agricultural show next weekend?
There are a number of recipes in our publications collection which are currently being catalogued, there are also many Civil Defence Recipe cards if you’re thinking of cooking for more than 30 and books like the WRVS Cook Book and Rescue a Recipe which were compiled by our volunteers. You can also search the Bulletins on our Archive Online
. For those who enjoy reading are recipes here is one from Rescue a Recipe, 1971.
Yorkshire Fat Rascals
• 1/2lb plain flour
• 2oz lard
• 2tsp sugar
• Little milk to mix
• (few currents or sultanas if preferred)
Rub lard into flour and sugar and mix with milk as if making pastry. Add fruit if used and roll out nearly half an inch thick. Cut into rounds and bake until risen and light brown. Split and butter.
Oven temperature: 400 Regulo 6 Time: about 10 minutes
If you have a burning desire for information about Royal Voluntary Services Archives & Heritage why not get in touch and email firstname.lastname@example.org
We often focus on the early years of Royal Voluntary Service then WVS
as a time of innovation, the million women giving their time and energy as well
as bring new ideas of social welfare to the people of Britain. However nearly
40 years later the WRVS was still making changes and finding new ways to
improve people’s welfare in the 1970s.
From 1942 to the early 1960s WVS ran various
transport schemes mostly to take people to Hospital. In the late 1960s WVS ran campaigns for transport services such as
Spare-a-Mile which provided vehicles to take older people shopping. The official Social Transport Scheme (Ceir Cefn Gwlad in Wales) was launched by WRVS in 1970. Volunteer drivers in the 1970s would provide transport for any journeys
other than trips to hospital which was still covered by the Hospital Car Service.
You can find out more about this in our Health and Hospitals Fact Sheet.
One of the earliest pilot schemes
was started in Dyfed, Wales in 1974/75 developed by volunteer Jill Walden-Jones
who only went to a meeting to see how she could help as a member of the WI and
left as the WRVS Social Transport Scheme Organiser Dyfed.
"I was called to a meeting by The WRVS in which they said they thought the whole thing was going to fail because they couldn’t find anyone to run the scheme, at which I was a little bit cross and I said rather foolishly ‘I’ll run the scheme for you, if there’s nobody else willing to do it.’ So my arm was practically seized off and I was told I had to join The WRVS. It was rather a strange start."
Of course all their fears never came true and Jill ran the scheme till
1977 when she became County Organiser but by then the Scheme was spreading
across Wales particularly in Dyfed it reached Llandeilo, Llandovery and Dinefwr,
each district was expected to have 6 or 7 schemes by 1980.
What makes Ceir Cefn Gwlad so
worthwhile and memorable is its passengers and drivers so I will leave you this
week with two stories from Wales where volunteers still take people home
through Transport Services.
"Well of course, there were all sorts of funny things happened. This nice young fellow who was in charge Dyfed County Council rang up and said ‘What’s going on’, he said ‘I see a dog has used our, the Country Car Service’. I said ‘Well, yes, he’s an essential user’. The fact was that this was a fat old dog that could no longer walk properly and his dear old mistress couldn’t get him to the bus stop or, or indeed on to the bus but it was essential that he was taken to the vet. It was her need really, I mean she had an essential need of a car and they, they agreed it, but we always used to laugh about the dog because it established part of what it was about, it was the person’s need for transport."
"By March right on schedule, our eight Country Cars schemes were completed. The district social transport organiser has put in a tremendous amount of work going to meetings, finding scheme organisers, knocking on doors etc., there are 338 members and helpers involved in this work in the district. We were asked by Social Services to take three people from Llandyssul to the Day Centre on Newcastle Emlyn every Monday. We arranged for two drivers to do this and after some administrative hiccups with Social Services this is now running smoothly."
Ceredigion District Narrative Report October 1982-March 1983