1940 -49 Records of WI members' monthly meetings

Janet Birchmore


January  – meeting held at ‘the studios Harston House’. Talk by Miss M Greene ‘adventures of coffee’, about Vienna.

February  – letter thanking members for xmas dinner and gifts from soldiers.Whist drives held for money to buy wool for soldier comforts. Talk by Miss Greene ‘Coffee’.

March  – rubbish collection to begin. Letter from Society of St. Dunstan’s, thanking members for the donation of £6.10.0.

April  – talk by Mr Royston ‘County of Cambridgeshire’. Thanks given for collection of eggs, flowers, tinfoil and stamps.

May – appeal for members to help with agriculture and horticulture in their area. Permit now needed to serve refreshments. Debate ‘better to be fat than thin’

June  – talk by Miss Warrington ‘Produce Guild’ urging members to join and dispose of surplus fruit and assist with jam making.

July  – letter from Grace Hadow Fund which was relief of rural disadvantage. She had been vice chairman of W.I. and promoted women’s education and suffrage. Members told about a scheme to provide a W.I. ambulance with each institute member paying 2/-. Talk by Dr Young ‘Common Sense’.

September  – talk by Mr Barker ‘War savings movement’, he hoped all villages to start a scheme. Talk by Miss Sprott from Broadcasting House, ‘Broadcasting in war time’.

October  – talk and demonstration by Miss Kelly ‘Stuffed vegetables’. National savings group now formed in the village.

November  – talk by Mr Peck ‘Cambridge Folk museum’. Knitting party to be held at Harston House.

December 1 – meeting held in Oddfellows Hall. £2 given to Nursing Association. Talk by Miss Greene ‘Coffee’.


January  – talk by Mr Kendow ‘Coloured photos of Harston’.

February  – talk by Dr. Young ‘Abraham Lincoln’.

March  – 21st anniversary of the W.I. Appeals from British Sailor’s Society’ and St. Dunstans for house to hpouse collections, members agreed.

April  – volunteers asked to do fruit picking. Talk by Mr Royston ‘North and South Cambridgeshire’, explaining this was the driest county.

May  – talk by Mr Boult ‘Iceland’.

June  – collection for Merchant Seamen to be undertaken. Members asked to put any names of sick people so the Sick Visitors could call. Talk by Mrs Saville Peck ‘Woman’s windows in Liverpool Cathedral’.

July  – garden party to be held at Harston House. Mrs Unwin from the Cambridgeshire War Agricultural Executive Committee spoke of the need for help to get the harvest in. Talk by Mrs Tamsley ‘Lace and Embroidery’ showing examples.

September  – money raised from garden party £21 to go to District Nursing Fund. Agreed to send £1 towards cost of a cot at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital. Talk by Mr Roger’s ‘Our Food in war time’, thinking of people bringing it from overseas.

October  – now obtainable Service Knitting Wool to knit for the Home Guard.

November  – talk by Dr Young ‘Napoleon’.

December  – talk by Mrs Richards ‘Westminster Hospital’ following air raids with touching and amusing stories.


January  – donation to Mrs Adeane Memorial Fund. (Duxford war memorial). Talk by Miss H Greene ‘Salvage Campaign’.

February  – £1 donation to Y.W.C.A. Talk by Mrs Peacock ‘Burma’.

March – debate on raising W.I. funds.

April  – tea and entertainment afternoon to raise funds, £5.9.6 for ‘Warship Week’. Talk and lantern slides by Mr Kendon ‘Beechcroft’ home and garden.

May  – letter thanking members for eggs during rationing. Talk by Mayoress, Lady Butler, ‘Poland’.

June  – talk by Mrs Mortlock ‘European countries and their connection with the international situation’.

July  – held at Harston House, garden party entertainment by the Council School.

September  – donation of £25 to Nursing Association and £10.18.11 to St Dunstan. Members informed of a meeting ‘Post war planning’ in Cambridge. Talk by Mrs Peck ‘Taking American visitors round Cambridge Colleges’.

October  – old felt hats wanted for soldiers. Talk by Mr Maris ‘R.S.P.P. Work’ showing how neglected children and overworked mothers could be helped.

November  – County Council unable to take any action on white lines on the roads and advised people to wear something white at night and face the traffic. Talk by Miss Kelly ‘War time fruit dishes’ and hints for green tomatoes.

December  – talk by Mrs Howard ‘Home made slippers’ with a demonstration.


January  – saving party for the Russians to be held. Talk by Mrs Mimiosky ‘Homes and characteristics of the Russians’.

February  – letter read on the importance of economising on bread and flour by the use of potatoes. Talk by Miss Boneerge? ‘Soya bean and its value as a food’.

March  – request for 2/- to be sent towards a gift for the W.I. County secretary, Miss Clifford, who was joining the Forces. Talk by Dr. Young ‘Hints for keeping well in the winter’.

April  – collection for merchant seaman this month. Agreed to send donation to ‘Home for unmarried mothers’ in Cambridge. Collected eggs for Addenbrookes.

May  – members asked to organise a garden party during ‘Wings for Victory’ week. Talk by Mrs Mortlock ‘British Empire, it’s origin and it’s problems’.

June  – whist drive at ‘the Limes’ funds to be raised for ‘the Emergency Hostel in Cambridge. Talk by Miss Gaskell ‘Glove making’.

July – hospitality asked for ‘the Poles’. Dance held for sick children at Great Ormond Street hospital.

September  – talk by Miss Greene ‘My early reminiscences’.

October  – talk by Mr Fitzgerald ‘Origin of Cambridge Street Names’.

November  – sewing party for Russia. Talk by Miss Greene ‘Cooking’, recipes for a meatless dinner and hints for brightening up a Christmas menu.

December  – appeal for the Friendless Sailors and Soldiers Parcel Depot. Talk by Mrs Hopkinson ‘New Zealand’ and finished with the singing of New Zealand anthem of their W.I.


January  – talk by Mr Kendon ‘Lantern slides’.

February  – members informed Government had no more need for tins. Rubbish collection to be continued. Talk by Mr Lennard ‘The Life of Shakespeare’.

March  – talk by Miss Greene ‘Poems’.

April  – talk by Dr. Young ‘Vitamins and Food’.

May  – letter of thanks from Addenbrookes. Talk by Mrs Hincks ‘Toys and thrift’.

June  – notice from Addenbrookes Outpatients was read and put on notice board.
Talk by Dr Rouse ‘Preservation of Health’ , (1) 3 good meals a day at regular times, (2) drink 3 pints of fluid a day, (3) regular work, (4) rest, (5) fresh air, (6) regular exercise, (7) cleanliness, (8) regularity and moderation in all things, (9) cultivation of cheerfulness, hopefulness of mind and placidity of temper.

July  – garden party in the grounds of Harston House.

September  – talk by Mrs Peck ‘Scott report’, discussing dtails of the Town and
Country Planning.

October  – talk by Mrs Shufflebottom ‘W.I. in Herefordshire and Gloucestshire’.

November  – talk by Mrs Mortlock ‘Foreign Policy Yesterday and Today’, possession of Gibraltar, Malta, Singapore and our predominating interest in the Suez Canal indicating the strategic points from a world map.

December  – appeals for rags, part time workers for Social Service Survey and openings for girls with the Y.W.C.A. Talk by Mrs Hopkinson ‘History of Harston W.I.’


January  – talk by Mrs Hopkinson ‘Resurrection of English Folk Music’.

February – purchase of a piano £40. talk by Mrs Young ‘Union Jack’ the saints, George, Patrick and Andrew, triple cross signifys ‘freedom, justice and fair play’.

March  – Newton W.I. asked Harston to second a resolution that bus companies to allocate certain number of seats to each village the bus goes through. At the moment buses start with seats taken so either the bus does not stop in other villages or standing room only. Motto for the year ‘Look back and give thanks, look forward and take courage’.

April 1 – request to continue knitting for Europe. Talk by Miss Barr ‘Play Production’.

May 1 – agreed to collection of rubbish by the Rural District Council, cost to be put on General Rates. Talk by Miss Lamplin ‘Lives of brave women’ including Boadicea, Margery Austin, Grace Darling, Queen Victoria, Elizabeth Fry, Marie Curie, Nurse Cavell and Mrs Everitt.

June  – members reminded to put their names on the Electorial Register. Talk by Mrs Huncks. (subject not written).

July  – garden party at Harston House, stalls, games and entertainment.

September  – message read from the Queen to her fellow W.I. members. Letter of thanks from Harston Homecoming Fund. £10 donated to Nursing Association. Appeal for more members for Harston W.I.

October  – talk by Mrs Randall ‘Knitting’.

November  – talk by the secretary ‘America’ showing pictures.

December  – questionnaire for members on local government, views given on Harston Parish Council. Talk by Flight Lieutenant Howarth ‘News from S.E.A.C’
(South East Asia Command), describing soldiers lives in jungles during the Burma Campaign.


January  – talk by Miss Powney ‘Basic Principles of Cookery’, methods ofvarious dishes and how to arrange your kitchen.

February  – Suggestion to be made to the Postmaster General, if the Post Office, currently in Button End, could be put more centrally. Talk by Miss Mary Greene ‘Visit to Holland’.

March  – letter received from Head Postmastergiving facts about the proposed Post Office move. Talk by Mr. Lendon? ‘View from window of my house’, colour photographs showing the change in seasons.

April  – collection of eggs and flowers for Addenbrookes. Drama group from Trumpington play reading ‘Jane Eyre’.

May  – talk by Mrs Osbourne ‘the social half hour of variety’, audience performed variety of social acts, action songs, mime and singing game.

June – Victory party to be held at Trinity College Cambridge. Notice given of meeting about European Relief. Talk by Miss Black ‘Make do and Mend’.

July – talk by Mrs G Young ‘The Discovery of Printing and it’s results’. Volunteers asked for St. Dunstan collection.

September – Promise made by Postmaster General for a second daily post delivery. Laughter of members caused by a notice that Barrington postman had been issued with a mackintosh cape to protect parcels etc. after complaints by Barrington W.I. War memorial to be cared for by W.I. Talk by Miss Barr ‘Drama etc in it’s varied forms’.

October  – flowers to be planted round the war memorial. Talk by Mr Robert Young ‘Work done at St. Dunstans’. Mr Young was blind but had been given support and training to be able to live in the community.

November – volunteers needed for house collection for British Sailor’s Society. Talk by Mrs Randall ‘Bags’ showing a variety she had made.

December  – letter from Mr Wedd asking for support for the village hall to become the social centre of the village. Talk by Miss Constantine ‘Christmas Decorations’.


January – talk and demonstration by Mr. Hendon ‘Importance of colour and design’, showing coloured photographs.

February  – thanks sent from Sir Graham Greene for congratulations on his 90th birthday from W.I. Members decided that they preferred Harston water in answer to enquiry by Mr. Wedd, Clerk to the Parish Council. Talk by Mrs Humphreys, wife of the Headmaster at Leys School, ‘Life in America’, emphasising we should understand each other. Life in America isn’t all Hollywood, as village life is simple and democratic. Some American housewives have labour saving devices and attachment to a car.

March 1 – no account of a meeting.

April  – A.G.M. Talk by Miss Mary Greene, ‘Tales from Mythology of the Gods’. Collection of eggs, stamps and silver paper for Addenbrookes.

May  – rota for care of memorial site. Talk by Mrs Leakey ‘ Books at Bedtime, advocating Victorian novels rather than present day thrillers.

June  – letter from B.B.C. Increasing lecture fees, agreed it was too expensive so cancelled future talk. Village Hall Secretary wrote asking if W.I. could pay some fees for use of the village hall. Members voted to give donations when possible but wanted to maintain the original rights in the Trust Deeds. Talk by Mr Barker ‘English Villages’.

July  – outing next month to Dovercourt. Letter from Village Hall thanking for the donation. Reminder of Garden Party at Harston House and unveiling of Tablet at the war memorial. Talk by Mr Pease of Girton ‘Germany during a recent visit’, stressing that German prisoners should now be sent back home and no more British mothers and children should go to Germany to occupy houses badly needed by German people.

September  – collection for St, Dunstan’s and Nursing Association. Talk by Mr. Wakefield, B.A. Ministry of Information ‘The Economic Crisis’.

October  – talk by Mr Robert Atkinson ‘World Food Situation’, descibing life in India, Persia, Malay, Egypt and central Europe.

November – at the beginning of the meeting, a minute silence due to the death of their secretary, Miss White. Talk by Rev Senior ‘Negro Spirituals’.

December  – agreed to send a letter to Chairman of the Cambridge Federation that houses were badly needed for families so the idea of a club should be abandoned. Talk by Miss James ‘Making the best use of the Fat Ration’, tasty samples handed round.


January  – talk by Mr Smith, Ministry of Information, films shown ‘This is Britain’, ‘The Balance’, ‘Fenlands’, ‘Birds of the Village’, ‘Routine Jobs’.

February  – talk by Mr Hutchinson ‘Living in Crete’.

March  – birthday night. Letter from Miss H. Greene apologising for her absence informing the W.I. that she was resigning from R.D.C. Letter to be sent thanking her for all she had done for Harston.

April – O.A.P. tea to be held. Talk by Miss Curzon, from the Cambridgeshire Education Committee, ‘Glove Making’ showing samples.

May  – invited to have a stall at Harston & Hauxton Horticultural Sciety Show. Talk by Miss Constantine ‘First Aid for Carpets and Rugs’.

June  – electric copper now installed. Talk by Dr. Verney, ‘Care of the Feet’, emphasing the wearing of sensible shoes to prevent corns and aching feet. Garden Party at Harston House.

July  – talk by Mrs Shufflebottom ‘Visit to Holland’.

September  – Thanks from St. Dunstan’s for £12.7.0. Talk by Miss Powell ‘Moral Welfare’.

October  – talk by Miss Cale, the only policewoman in the county.

November  – recent Sailor’s collection £10.1.10. A letter to be sent to Food Advisor Organiser saying that ‘the courses were a waste of time and money’. Members to visit new residents in the village to inform them of the activities in the village, speker ill.

December – talk by Mrs Norris, assistant from Eugene London, ‘The Care of the Hair’.


January – talk by Miss Powell ‘The County Library’. It was hoped more people from Harston would start to use the library, as only 95 were present users.

February  – talk by Mr Parr, from Impington Village College, ‘House Decorating’.
He stressed the importance of preparation.

March– talk by Mr Kendow showing beautiful lantern slides. Proposed visit to Windsor.

April  – A.G.M. motto ‘turn your face to the sun and shadows fall behind you’.

May  – agreed to donate to the Village Hall Fund. Talk by Mrs Turhentine? ‘Stitching’. County show in Trumpington in June. Concern expressed of widows unable to obtain their pension. Nothing more to be done about ‘Clean Food’ programme’ because of the cost of wrapping paper.

June  – members invited to listen to a broadcast of a talk on Women’s Institute from Canada in July. Request for a new teapot, broken by the Badminton Club who should be asked to contribute to the cost. Talk by Miss Dauble?, from Ministry of National Insurance, ‘History National Insurance Act coming into force 1950’, Gradual development since the Poor Law 1601, which stated that noone should starve. Pamphlets distributed.

July – members invited to form a pen friendship with a county women’s organisation in Louisianna, U.S.A. Appeal from W.V.S. to help Polish boys in July and August. Talk by Miss Curzon ‘Making a loose cover for an armchair’.

September  – questionnaire sent out by the National Federation and relating to the amenities in the village. Members suggested the village needed, more buses, more pillar boxes, more street lights, recreation ground and main drainage. Talk by Mrs Vilvandre ‘Needlework’, plain sewing, embroidery and quilting.

November – talk by Mr Duram ‘Reclaiming the Fens’.

December  – talk by Mr Jacques, ‘Workers Educational Association’.

This page was added on 23/06/2020.

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