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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Ideas for Shrove Tuesday

Tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday or as many now refer to it Pancake Day, in the past this was a day when many Christians prepared to fast or abstain from rich ingredients used in food such as pancakes. Today there are plenty of options in the shops from readymade mixes, readymade pancakes or buying flour and eggs etc. to make them from scratch. However, during World War II some foods such as eggs were not always as plentiful or they were rationed. In March 1943 an article was published in the Bulletin to inspire those celebrating Shrove Tuesday.

VARIATIONS WITH A BATTER: Thanks to "Lease-lend" we can still make a pre- war batter with real eggs. The dried eggs, whether in tins or sold loose, as most housewives will now realise, are excellent in all types of cooking. For batter particularly, they not only increase the food value, but also help the colour and texture of the mixture.

During the making of the batter, it is essential that all ingredients are smoothly mixed and well beaten, and success depends on lightness which is obtained by the introduction of cold air in the beating, and a high temperature in cooking.

The following are some ideas which the housewife may find useful in varying the simple foundation batter: Foundation Batter.-4 oz. flour, 1 tablespoon dried egg, 1 oz. dried milk, 1/2- 3/4 pint water. Pinch of salt. Sieve the flour, salt, egg and milk together, and mix with sufficient water to make a stiff mixture. Beat well, add rest of water and put aside for one hour.

1. BAKED AS FOR YORKSHIRE PUDDING: With chopped cooked meat, 1/2 lb. sausages, grated cheese and Worcester sauce, 3/4 lb. mixed cooked vegetables, scraps of cooked or tinned fish, plain sweet batter dredged with sugar before serving, 3 oz. of dried fruit or 1/2 lb. fresh fruit (dates, prunes, apples, raisins, sultanas), or plain batter served with syrup, jam or chocolate sauce.

2. FRIED: (a) Pancakes.-Stuffed with any of fillings mentioned above, or with fried potato and pickle or chutney. Served with a sweet or savoury sauce. Rolled or on top of each with the filling between. Cooked “dry " as for dropped scones which can be eaten hot stuffed with a filling, or cold spread with butter, or 1 teaspoonful baking powder added to mixture and tablespoonfuls dropped into hot fat and served with bacon. (b) Coating.-The liquid reduced to half in the basic recipe and used for coating, dried fruits (prunes and apples), fresh fruit, slices of cooked vegetable, croquette mixtures, or small strips of stale cake or bread moistened with flavoured milk. Steaming.-Increase the amount of flour by 1 oz. and use any of the variations mentioned above.

Note: For a lighter and richer batter add an extra egg and reduce the amount of liquid equivalent to this. Sugar tends to make a batter heavy, therefore dredge sweet batters with sugar after cooking.

Of course pancakes aren’t just for this time of year as demonstrated in this week’s photograph. A WVS Rally at Warmwell Airfield taken on 15/10/1957, where eight WVS members of the Swanage emergency feeding team made and cooked small pancakes on an improvised hotplate cooker with oven at a WVS Rally at Warmwell Airfield, Dorset.  Two members cooked the pancakes while others made the batter.  On the table is the shield they won when they came first in the Dorset Emergency Feeding competition.

Enjoy your pancakes!

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 27 February 2017.

Labels: Pancakes, Shrove Tuesday , WVS, Bulletin, Emergency feeding

A Volcanic Eruption

This week we are very excited to bring you our first Vlog focusing on the Islanders of Tristan du Cunha who were evacuated to Pendell Military Camp in 1961. You can also read about this below.

Original Script

Hello and welcome to our first vlog we will be posting one every other month so we hope you enjoy. My name is Jennifer I am the Deputy Archivist; today I will be talking about why the islanders of Tristan du Cunha gave WVS Caterham and Godstone, Surrey a model of one of their long boats in 1961.

Tristan, is the name of both a remote group of volcanic islands in the South Atlantic Ocean and the main island of that group. Tristan da Cunha is part of the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. From August 1961 there were a series of natural disasters including landslides before the eruption of the volcano in October which threatened the community living on the island. It was decided that all the inhabitants should be evacuated to Britain; they were guaranteed a warm welcome and who was there to greet them? The WVS of Course! 

Five days before their arrival, a team of 200 enthusiastic volunteers from Caterham and Godstone prepared Pendell Military Camp. WVS were determined that the huts, which were to be the islanders home for a few months were as homelike as possible; beds were covered with afghans, a little bowl of flowers was placed in each hut, grime in the kitchens was scrubbed away, table cloths were laid and the cupboards were stocked with provisions.

Meanwhile the former NAAFI Canteen was getting its facelift; curtains, chairs, tables, and a billiard table lent by NAAFI, were put in place; the children's playroom was filled with toys and hung with balloons; the WVS Office and Information Centre was prepared, and a little shop stocked with things to meet the immediate needs of the islanders; of course a WVS speciality was installed, a Clothing Store.

Just after noon on a very cold Friday in November the islanders arrived.

They stayed at Pendell for three months and then moved to Calshot, on Southampton Water, where the houses of a disused R.A.F. Station had been prepared for them, with as much effort and enthusiasm, by the Hampshire WVS. Centres throughout Hampshire made 300 pairs of curtains, for which 1,400 yds. of material were needed, 1,800 yds. of ruflette tape and 6,000 curtain hooks. I wonder how much space they had left in the office or indeed their own homes. The islanders were really appreciative for everything WVS did for them and presented Caterham WVS with a model of a typical Tristan da Cunha long boat which they made themselves. Today the model lives in the Archive.

The winter of 1962 was particularly harsh especially compared to the climate of the islands, several suffered with illnesses and as with many a long way from their own homes felt homesick.  So The Royal Society went on an expedition to the Island in 1962. They reported that they had been able to live in the settlement and that the boats were still intact. Hearing this news, the islanders began to agitate to return home.  Over a two year period small groups returned to the Island with everyone having returned home by November 1963. In the meantime WVS helped the islanders settle into their temporary homes with all their usual services but also demonstrating gas or electric stoves and holding children’s parties.  

Going home After two years in England the islanders all returned home to Tristan da Cunha, the last group left  on the Bornholm, with 27 tons of potatoes for eating and 100 tons of other stores including six months' provision of flour, tea, sugar, salt and biscuits. It was reported in the Bulletin December 1963 that “THE Tristan da Cunha Islanders have gone home in the spirit of determined independence which characterises them. The parting was sad, for them and for WVS, who since their arrival in England in November 1961 have looked after them and become their friends”.

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 11:00 Wednesday, 22 February 2017.

Labels: Tristan du Cunha, Refugees, Volcano, WVS, Surrey, Hampshire

My trip to the SEAC with WVS: the Diary of Services Welfare member Miss Yellowley

This week we return to the Mauretania and the adventures of Miss Yellowley on her way to the South East Asia Command.

We rocked all night and all day of Monday the 22nd most of the party were sick, I stayed in bed all day living on two day biscuits and an apple.

Tuesday 23rd nearly everybody feeling better got out of the bay and in the straits it’s a lovely day sun shining beautiful and feels quite warm we are all up on deck enjoying the sun at 11 o’clock we shall be having lifebelt drill. The time has been put on 1 hour and already we can feel the difference in the weather we are passing the coast of Spain and can see the hills in the distance. After lunch sunbathed until time to dress for dinner, the food here is excellent. After dinner we went to an open air concert on the deck it is a glorious moon light night and the deck is floodlit and everybody sitting around on their life saver. Babs sang two songs for the troops and quite a number of chaps sang and various other things it was very good and we enjoyed it very much. While we were listening to the concert we had passed by the rock of Gibraltar about 9o’clock it was all lit up but I was very sorry I hadn’t seen it, we are now in the Mediterranean.

Wednesday 24th it is a lovely day the sun is shining beautiful and it is getting quite hot. Everybody on deck is gradually getting into shorts and sun bathing and the sea looks divine, we are on deck sewing for the troops, the piles of sewing are gradually getting bigger and it looks as though we’re in for a good time. We can see the Libyan coast and we have come in quite close to Algeria, we had really good views of these places. In the evening there was a concert and dance for the troops on the lower deck, it was jolly good and ended another grand day.

Thursday, a lovely day we did the usual things sitting about and sewing etc. passed the island of Pantelleria off the Sicilian Coast. In the afternoon we passed Malta not very close to it and that will be the last land we shall until we reach Port Said on Friday morning. In the evening we went to the pictures and saw Sonja Heni in “Wintertime” enjoyed the skating scenes very much but the story was poor, after the pictures there was a dance and concert in the officers lounge and that was very good and I had a good time at midnight the clocks were advanced one hour, now we are two hours ahead of British time.

Friday we all woke up feeling tired but got up on deck and the skies were very grey. Soon after it started to rain and we went inside and squatted down anywhere we could find a spot. After lunch the sun was shining again and we were on deck until dinner, there was a grand concert in the Officers Lounge for the troops and the girls were invited it was very good indeed. At midnight the clocks were again advanced one hour, that is 3 hours since we left England. Saturday about 9o’clock we were just at the entrance of the Suez Canal, it was a glorious sight …

We will join Miss Yellowley again in a few weeks when she travels through the canal and there is more sewing to be done.

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 13 February 2017.

Labels: WVS, , Services Welfare, , SEAC, , Mauretania, , Suez Canal, , diary

Clothing Relief for Swindon and the Middle East

Hello I'm Elaine and I have just joined as volunteer here at the Archive & Heritage Collection. This is my introductory challenge, researching Clothing Stores in my local town of Swindon. I hope you enjoy reading it ...

By the late 1950s the WVS had become experts in dealing with the provision of clothing in times of crisis. This was not surprising given the extensive experience that had been gained in the distribution and handling of garments during the war when, “at a conservative estimate, fifty million garments were sorted and distributed” to those who had been evacuated and bombed out, and who were left with literally nothing. This meant that often items had to be sourced from areas unaffected by the bombs, transported, sorted and then distributed according to need. It had been a huge undertaking that had required considerable organisational skills.

As the war came to an end however, the need for the WVS clothing services did not diminish, with garments urgently needed in liberated Europe. This was followed a decade later by the Hungarian crisis, and again in April 1959 when an appeal from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Beirut resulted in the WVS collecting, sorting and bundling 1,000 tons of processed clothing – that’s 2,548,997 garments - to help refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Gazza and Syria.

Following the press appeal for clothing donations by Lady Reading at the beginning of November 1959, Miss Honeychurch, a reporter from the Wiltshire Evening Advertiser paid a visit to the Swindon branch of the WVS on Victoria Road. She was astonished by the amount of work that the WVS continued to do several years after the end of the war, and following the establishment of the Welfare State. In her report she emphasised how in addition to international appeals the local office provided vital practical assistance to many of the town’s residents in their times of need. It was particularly important for the provision of clothing and Swindon was consequently “one of the busiest centres in the whole region” for this form of help.

Swindon was a new industrial town with a rapidly expanding population, to which people often came with little as they searched for work. Like elsewhere in the country, the WVS clothing service was also used by single parent families, the elderly, those who had been struck by illness or by those who had suffered a disaster such as a fire or a flood. All were identified as having a chronic need and had been given a certificate from a doctor, N.S.P.C.C worker, or other professional before attending the WVS. As a result whole families, often with a large number of children, would often be completely re-clothed, and in some instances this would occur twice a year.

To give this some scale, in the month that Miss Honeychurch visited the office in Swindon, a total of 28 families were helped with at least 51 children included. This was in addition to the previous 114 families that had been assisted in the preceding months of 1959.

All this meant that there was often great pressure upon the service in Swindon and the local WVS Secretary, Mrs Grundy, emphasised to Miss Honeychurch, the on-going need for donations of good quality clothing from the public, “We never have enough clothing. We have great difficulty getting sufficient for our needs.”

As a result they often held ‘make and mend’ sessions where garments that were not of sufficient quality for immediate distribution could be re-made into other items. Old fashioned white nighties for example could be skilfully transformed into pillow cases, petticoats, knickers, and hankies! However, when demand outstripped the resources available in Swindon, requests for garments often had to be made to the clothing centre at Corsham.

Corsham was also one of the centres where the refugee clothing was held before shipping, and despite the enormous pressure on the home front in Swindon they were pleased to report in December 1959, that they had been able to send a full van, with several bales of refugee clothing to Corsham. All on top of clothing a further 29 local families!

Posted by Elaine Titcombe Volunteer at 09:00 Monday, 06 February 2017.

Labels: Swindon, Middle East , Clothing, WVS, 1950s