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Waste Food for Pigs, Ayr Scotland

During the war the Scottish section of the WVS tended to maintain a more independent status from the rest of the organisation. This is evident within our collection of Narrative Reports; the National Headquarters series has no records from 1942 to 1960, we hope they survived somewhere in Scotland. For many years WVS/WRVS had a Scotland Headquarters in Edinburgh which did not send Narrative Reports to London till after the establishment of the Archive in 1958. Fortunately, we still have other sources mentioning the activities of WVS Scotland and the Narrative Reports which made it to London HQ between 1939 and 1941 draw attention to the wide array of activities performed by Scottish volunteers in the early years of the war, one such report recorded the decisions of a local meeting held in January 1941 in the town of Ayr; it provides an excellent example of WVS Salvage work.



The Waste Food for Pigs campaign was created as part of the Government’s National Salvage Scheme to help maintain a constant supply of feed for the nation’s livestock. In order to accomplish this, kitchen waste was boiled and concentrated at special plants, thus resulting in what is commonly known as pig swill. Working in tandem with the local authorities, the WVS helped organise this scheme to ensure that salvage became an integral component of wartime society.

To help address this issue, the above meeting was facilitated by Mr J.B, Crookes, the National Controller of Salvage for Scotland and also by Mr Strain of the local Cleansing Department and Regional Salvage Advisor for the West of Scotland. Their attendance to this meeting also demonstrated its significance, because it is quite possible that their solutions for tackling ‘pig swill’, may have filtered down to other WVS centres.Such as members of East Barnet, Hertfordshire featured in the two photographs in this week's blog. The meeting in Ayr laid out the schemes structure.

After a series of discussions, they concluded that the Burgh of Ayr would be divided into districts for the collection of pig feed. To ensure there were enough collection points, a bin would be placed on each street for every ten or twelve households. One member from the WVS Housewives’ Service would be responsible for each bin. The members were keen to implement this system swiftly, so shiny new bins were distributed to five locations around the town to then be placed on an appropriate street corner.

a) Allotment Schemes.

b) Fruit Shops, Multiple Stores, Canteens.

c) Tenement Properties.

d) Villas, Bungalows, Mansion Houses.

e) Hotels, Boarding Houses.

Royal Burgh of Ayr Centre Report January 1941

Due to the fact that this is the last year of reports we hold for the Burgh of Ayr until 1961, it is very difficult to ascertain whether or not the solutions proposed in this meeting were a resounding success. Although you might wish to scour the Scotland reports featured in the WVS Bulletin during the war. Nevertheless, the centre organiser for Ayr was more than complimentary about how the meeting was received.

WVS later WRVS Scotland acted as both Region 11 and in some ways a separate organisation with its own Headquarters up until 1980s/1990s.  However, it is evident from the earliest records that their commitment to Lady Reading’s vision of voluntary service was and is at the same level as the rest of Great Britain. Especially true when it came to the establishment National (UK wide) schemes such as salvage and the collection of waste food in the burghs.





Posted by Jacob Bullus, Archives Assitant (Digitisation) at 09:00 Monday, 27 November 2017.

Labels: Ayr, Scotland , WVS, WRVS, Salvage, Pig

Archives and exploring peoples motives



This week the Heritage Bulletin Blog comes to you in the form of our second podcast. As it’s Explore Your Archive Week we thought we would treat you to a clip from one of our oral histories. We're exploring the ideas behind why people volunteer and Mary Gibbons a volunteer in South Wales told the project why girls taking part in volunteering for Duke of Edinburgh got involved and the impact that had.

Hopefully you will then be inspired to visit Archive Online and explore the Voices of Volunteering collection for yourself. Clips and resources based on oral histories are also available on the Voices of Volunteering School Resources page.




For those who can't listen to the podcast, which I whole heartedly recommend, the transcript is below.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award. There was a school in, in Swansea, a girl’s school, and one of the Masters at the girl’s school had always been interested in Duke of Edinburgh Award, and he persuaded the Head Mistress there to let him use some of his pupils for Duke of Edinburgh. Now he was using girls who were challenged. They seldom went to school, they had got very little home support, they really were not bright. And he had said to them would they like to do this, you see, because in Duke of Edinburgh you have to do a certain amount of service. And so the service was our service, helping out at WRVS Luncheon Clubs for the elderly, which the girls thought was wonderful. So he sort of said to us ‘Will you do the rest of it’? Because they obviously had to know all about WRVS and they had to do a certain amount of, of work with it, so we had said ‘Yes’, and the girls were good. But the girl, he said to the girls ‘You only go to the Luncheon Club if you go to school’.

Now truancy was the thing.  So in fact, for the year that we were doing it there, or for the two years, they went to school every day because they wanted to go to the Luncheon Club. And we used to go and we would do lessons with them, but we knew that they couldn't really take things down because possibly they couldn't write, they couldn't read and it was just very unfortunate for them. But we, even when it came to the test or, or sort of making sure they'd got it all, we had an oral rather than a written. Now for other schools we would do written things whereas with them it was… And we didn't do the testing at the end, but other people did, and that was quite amazing because they all got through.

And I can see it now, we had the Head Mistress was there the last, they, they had to have the certificates given to them and the badges. And they had got, he had organised a very special coffee morning. All the girls had been in the day before to help make cakes and things. And their parents had been invited. And it, she had sort of introduced the girls, and how superb they had been, and the WRVS had been doing this and that, and then I had to say something about them because I was Emergency Services, I had to say something about what we’d done with them. And then, you know, sort of say, we had given them their things and praise and everything else.

And afterwards I was going round talking to the parents who were there. And I can remember going up to this dad and his daughter was there as proud as punch, and I said to him ‘Well, what did you think’? He said ‘Oh’, he said ‘how I didn't cry’, he said, ‘I had to take time off work because I never ever thought she would get anything’. And I thought that was lovely. He’d, he was so chuffed that she’d got something, you know. you know. Out of all of this, so different, so different. So it did do very well, and actually he [the Duke of Edinburgh] came to Swansea on one occasion and we were there, there were two of us, somebody, Julie, another girl, and the two of us were there with some of our, with some of us, the school girls. And, and he had talked to them, which was, he thought, they thought was wonderful. But, no, that was good.  

Mary Gibbons Volunteer

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 20 November 2017.

Labels: oral history, Voices of Volunteering, WRVS, volunteers, Luncheon Club, podcast

Wonderful work is waiting for you with the services overseas

WVS took on work for the Armed Forces when it became a member of the Council of Volunteer War Workers, in 1940 and established the Services Welfare Department. Most of the WVS’s work for the Armed forces was domestic including canteens and darning socks. These services developed further in 1944 by training WVS members to run clubs for Service Men overseas.

The NAAFI wanted WVS to run clubs for soldiers in their barracks and the first contingency was sent to the Algiers after the war ended. Women went to countries and continents such as: North Africa and Italy; The Middle East; Germany; Austria; The Far East; Japan; Korea; Cyprus; Kenya; Christmas Island; Singapore; Malaya  and Hong Kong. Most of the members who went out spent their time running the clubs but also had their own experiences which they recorded in letters and diaries.  

A member called Kathleen Thompson went to India for 18 months to work in Deolali, Randu and Raiputana. In 2016 the Archive received 93 letters written by Kathleen about her time in India and this week we would like to share part of one of those letters with you. An extra handwriting challenge for those who eagerly await the monthly narrative Report handwriting challenge (though not as difficult).  

7th March 1946 Letter no.8

Kathleen left India at the end of her contract with the organisation in August 1947 but many more women went out to other countries as part of Services Welfare which later included the Falklands and Canada. You can find out more about WVS and WRVS Services Welfare on the Voices of Volunteering schools resources pages and searching Archive Online.

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

Labels: India, WVS, Letters, Archive, Services Welfare, NAAFI

“Many archives have digitisation programmes. Is this digital preservation?” - @ArchiveHour

There appears to be a growing trend of debate on twitter; It’s usually an hour during the day where like minded people discuss a topic using #somethinghour. Now Archives appear to have jumped on the bandwagon with #archivehour (not that jumping on the bandwagon is a bad thing). Unfortunately I was unable to take part in the first #archivehour on 26th October as I was in Russia. However the intriguing topic hosted by @ARAScotland was digital preservation. One question posed was: 

I would now like to answer this question from the perspective of Royal Voluntary Service Archive and Heritage Collection’s digitisation projects.

Over the years we have had a few digitisation projects including the Bulletins, Narrative Reports, photographs, posters and now the publications (more on that in a later blog). One reason for these projects was to provide online access to our records as we cannot currently provide physical access to the collection. Another reason was the general preservation of the physical document, not the digital reproduction. Digitising means less handling of fragile items and keeps them in the ideal environment rather than constant temperature changes as they move from store to search room. This is digitisation providing access to analogue/traditional archives to help preserve the originals. Therefore digitisation is not digital preservation but preservation in its wider sense, for Royal Voluntary Service digital preservation applies to its born digital records.

Interestingly we have very few born digital archives, a lot of our records are still produced in a physical format. However we do have a set of born digital records which have been mentioned several times; the Voicesof Volunteering Oral Histories and their transcript/summary sheets. The oral histories were recorded as WAV the transcripts and summary sheets were typed as word documents. Over time we will need to monitor how these records are kept the word documents have already been converted to pdfs. An open source document which follows archive standards of digital preservation and allows easy access, they have at least three backups each. The WAV files are already at an archival standard for audio records however the file format makes them two large for access purposes we have created MP3 versions for Archive Online. Over time we will need to make sure these files don’t become obsolete, corrupt or suffer from bitrot as well as making sure they are not accidently deleted. This is digital preservation protecting born digital documents from many dangers and keeping them accessible for future generations.

In conclusion digitisation programmes are not digital preservation because they are about access to original documents and digital preservation is about protecting born digital records from destruction once they have made their way to the archive. I am sure at some point someone will raise the question is a digitised copy of a traditional archive a born digital record i.e. an archive/document in its own right and therefore keeping it a case for digital preservation. However I don’t have enough words in the blog to look at this now it is a discussion for another day.

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 06 November 2017.

Labels: Archive, Royal Voluntary Service, Digitisation, Digital Preservation, Access, Twitter