The WVS of Wimbledon are we – Part I

Two years ago I wrote a blog (WVS/WRVS Serves at Wimbledon) looking at our association with the Wimbledon Tennis Championship and the eventful two weeks between 1947 and 2004 when a number of volunteers ran information desks. So the other day I was wondering what were the WVS doing in Wimbledon before they got involved in Tennis.

We actually know very little about the WVS in Wimbledon during the War, unfortunately none of their Narrative Reports survived from 1938-1947 but there are two articles written in the Bulletin Magazine in 1942 and 1942. One of them tells us that on 11th October 1942 there was an invasion defence exercise involving the Housewives Service, the Centre Organiser and WVS post leaders who controlled the Street Leaders. The exercise assumed that the South East of England had been invaded and the WVS were involved in caring for the wounded and evacuating people from their homes. You can read the full article here.

Another source of information is the statistic books for 1943-1945 they tell us the services WVS were involved in in those years Wimbledon ran the following services: ·        

  • Under 5’s Nurseries        
  • Clothing
  • Housewives         
  • Civil Defence Canteens         
  • Work for HM Forces         
  • Hospital Services        
  • Work Parties         
  • Transport     
  • Salvage
  • National Savings 

Back to the Bulletin, which reported that in February 1945 Wimbledon was adopted by Leicestershire as part of the Re-homing Gift Scheme. Donated items collected by volunteers in Leicestershire were sent to Wimbledon, where they were distributed by WVS to those setting up new homes after they had been bombed out in flying bomb attacks. In June 1945 the WVS of Leicester County Borough sent Wimbledon 16 1/2 tons of household goods including over 60 chairs which had been re-seated by the Institute for the Blind.

Next week we look at what the volunteers of Wimbledon did after the War

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 27 June 2016.

Labels: WVS, Wimbledon, HouseWives, Re-homing gift scheme, Bulletin, Narrative Report

Back to list