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.
“What is this I hear about Sir Samual Hoare wanting us women to help the menfolk at their ARP?”
“Funny” said the friend “I was thinking about the same thing. You know I think Sir Sam has got his head screwed on the right way. What sort of missus has he got? If this ARP business should become a serious affair, I guess we women folk will have to lend a hand if it’s ever going to be any sort of a success.”
two women from Wedmore 1938.
It’s funny that after working here for nearly five years I
still discover new, interesting and exciting documents in the collection. The
quote above comes from a booklet The
Women of Wedmore; Wedmore is a village in Somerset but the booklet was in a
file for Gloucestershire which is probably why I haven’t noticed it before and
I was actually looking for information on Blood Donners. This village was part
of Axbridge Rural District and the services provided by its Wedmore members
included: canning jam, camouflage netting, clothing and the rural pie scheme. However
the booklet describes the Housewives Service as their main focus.
The object of the Housewives Service was to equip housewives
with the knowledge to deal with first aid in an emergency. In 1942 30 women
joined the Housewives Service in Wedmore, many stayed the course and were
presented with a blue window card; the head housewives received a red one. After
their training the women of Wedmore did not just sit around waiting for an
emergency they were extremely active. Activities included monthly meetings, full
blown invasion exercises, lectures on Gas, high explosive bombs, fire-fighting
etc, jumble sales for Wings Week, collecting books and magazines for convalescents
and towards the end of the war preforming as the Housewives’ Players. Indeed
the Head Housewife was so busy she had to upgrade from walking everywhere to a bicycle
and then a “lordlylike progress into a bath-chair (broken leg); this progress
was achieved at the cost of much muscular power on the part of many pushing
The women of Wedmore continued to deliver WVS services after
the war. In January 1952 the Mercury and Somersetshire Herald reported that 100
Wedmore WVS members ran a rest centre exercise taking “evacuees” from a “bombed
out Bristol”. It was still a very active area in the 1960s providing
refreshments at a Darby and Joan Club rally for 500 club members from all over
Somerset in 1963. In the 1970s due to changes in the WRVS’s administration the
village of Wedmore was absorbed into the Mendip district office. However, the
district as a whole continued their important work into the 1980s with services
such as Books on Wheels, hospitals, Meals on Wheels, Lunch Clubs and Clubs for
Older People to name a few. They even rehomed Budgies, the district Organiser
remarked that “if it had been green … I’d have asked him to sign an enrolment
card. There are often a few times when I would find a pair of wings useful”.
As you can see the story of the Women of Wedmore, Axbridge
Rural in Somerset is a very interesting one which was focused on helping people
in the community. Today the Royal Voluntary Service in Somerset assists older
people in their community with older people's welfare and hospitals.