How we started!

Christian Names were never used and hats were always worn!

Bredon WI held their first meeting on 15th January 1924 at 3 p.m. in Bredon Village Hall.  Thirty members attended and a demonstration on rush mat making was given.  In those days members were very formal – Christian names were never used.  Hats were probably worn and the President invariably lived in one of the big houses in the village!

The meetings were scheduled to last two and a half hours and there was often more than one speaker. The meetings started with a roll call which involved each member in turn saying something on a given subject; for example, their favourite vegetable, favourite film star, the nicest month of the year, or labour saving hints.  Their first competition was potato peeling; the second was for the best darning. In November of that year they had difficulty deciding on a winner for the best knitting but it eventually went to a member for her lovely knitted camisole!

The lectures, as they were called, were very similar to our programmes today, allowing for a lapse of some 85 years! There were many travel talks and demonstrations of something useful for the home. The secretary writes about one of them – “Mrs Fielding gave an exhibition of articles made from waste – everyone was astonished at the things she produced” An early lecturer was from Cheltenham Hospital who encouraged members to pay a subscription of 4 pence (4d) a week and this would entitle them to free treatment at the hospital!

Obviously these early days were not all plain sailing. In 1935 one member of the committee resigned because she had been criticised for arranging a concert party without calling a meeting of the Entertainments Committee.  In 1937 the President was displeased because “the meeting had been severely hindered by the constant talking of certain members”. They should have experienced the “free flow” chat of today’s members!

The September 1939 meeting was cancelled because of the outbreak of war. The committee decided not to reform the choir until the New Year – presumably in the belief that the war would be over by Christmas!

At one time the membership reached 99!  No mention is ever made of ages but from the fact that playing rounders in the field was part of the programme, one can assume they had a generally younger membership than today.  Our membership is now hovering around 63, not bad for the very busy era in which we live!  Some of our “lectures” now produce tears of laughter as well as being informative.   We also get out and about on a good many trips and some of our members take advantage of the holidays on offer through the WI and we visit theatres in London whenever we can.

 In January 2014 we celebrated our 90th birthday and we are still going strong with a membership of some 70 ladies!  In 2015 we celebrated the centenary of the WI with a Baton that visited every Federation that we have and finished in the Royal Albert Hall in the presence of HM The Queen at our Annual Meeting.  In 2016 we all celebrated the 90th birthday of our Monarch and Bredon WI held a “Picnic in the Park” that morphed into the “Picnic in the Village Hall” due to extremely inclement weather!   Not a bad recipe for today. Oh, and new members are always very welcome!

Joan Needham

1 thought on “How we started!

  1. This makes very interesting reading Joan. Our WI at Beckford was founded at about the same time. I must dig out the minutes in time for our 90th in 2012 and do a similar piece.

    Yo Yates ( Beckford WI)

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