WYTHALL W.I. HISTORY 1934 – 1984

In 1934 Wythall was a small village served only by the occasional Midland Red bus and the train service at Grimes Hill- in those days Birmingham City Transport (trams) ended at what we termed Alcester Lanes End and so life was to a certain extent more closely knit.

Wednesday 24 October 1934 was red letter day for Wythall WI as about 45 ladies met together at Silver Street School (Silvermead and of recent years converted to very attractive housing for the over 55 age group) to discuss the formation of a Women’s Institute in the village.

The first actual meeting took place on 6 November 1934 with 44 members present, (the population of Wythall was approx. 2329). The subscription was2/6d (12.5p) with Home and Country (the WI magazine) at 2d a copy.

Wythall WI became part of the Astwood Bank Group.

By January 1935 membership had risen to 54. Meetings took much the same form as today with the exception that travel talks were illustrated by Lantern slides. The tea and cake tradition never alters with speakers and visitors being served first.

Birthday or Anniversary night concluded with Auld-Lang-Syne.

A savings scheme was started for outings which featured largely in the years activities. It is interesting to note that a semi-circular arrangement was used for demonstrations and lectures.

Throughout the years there has been a constant battle with the then Midland Red Bus Company regarding the service, fares and location of the bus stops. There was quite a fight to get a bus to stop outside and opposite the Institute.

Big change in March 1937, our WI moved to its present home in Wythall Institute (Village Hall).

Wythall Village Hall in 1930

September 1938 saw a leap for mankind… A Talkie Film Show.

Gentlemen friends were allowed to Birthday Night in 1939, although there was no September meeting due to the war being declared on the 3rd of that month. A letter was received from County urging the necessity for WI to carry on as much as possible during the war.

All through the war members supported the troops by knitting socks, even collecting wool from the hedges and fences to get a free supply of wool. The September meeting became an annual picnic time for blackberry picking with extra sugar allowance for making the fruit into jam for sale in the local shops. During this time the WI was allowed a small ration to make cakes and ‘do teas’ for the meeting. Food parcels were received from America and toys from Canada to be distributed to needy children in the district.

1943 A.G.M. heard the familiar cry for new blood on the committee.

In 1946 a 3d entrance fee was introduced, with members signing a register rising to 9d (4.5p) in 1960.

In 1949 the first bursary to Denman College, to be bi-annual was given. Amount £2.10.0. (£2.50).

Outings featured very much in the life of the WI in the early years including Blenheim, the Cotswolds, mystery trips, theatre outings and London which was a popular venue.

As today in 2007, we were invited in 1954 to take a stall at Wythall Carnival where we made a profit of £7. 1958/59 saw the start of the Furnishing Fund and together with the jumble sale proceeds, donated to two new tables and 20 chairs.

HIGHLIGHT of 1959 was 28, yes 28, members nominated for the committee (only 13 places available)

In 1963 we started our annual tea and Christmas gift for about 80 mentally ill residents of Monyhull Hall Hospital. This continued until the hospital was disbanded.

1965, the Wythall girls ‘let their hair down’ with a grand outing to Holland.

Mrs Grace Parker represented the Institute at the Jubilee Garden Party at Buckingham Palace and the first scrapbook entered the National competition. We were fortunate to win the County award out of 61 participants. Since then we have completed another 4 scrapbooks depicting life in Wythall every 10 years.

The Meals on Wheels service started in 1966 with members acting as cooks and delivery service drivers. We also had a memorial visit to the Rhine Festival.

Membership numbers were restricted to 130 in 1967 with those on the waiting list being notified of the opening of Hollywood WI in 1969.

An annual Halloween Barn Dance was held in the Becketts ‘chicken pens’ while the more sophisticated of us danced the night away at the White Lion (now a showman's storage park)

Weatheroak Group was formed in 1970 and Wythall became part of the group as it is today.

Over the years various classes have been held including First Aid, Keep Fit through to Rag Doll making.

1980 saw the start of many happy years of amusing Christmas Pantomimes put on by the drama group with a production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

A new members meeting was held in 1982 the first since 1974 and the reintroduction of the bye law restricting membership.

The Jubilee wall hanging was started in 1983 and now hangs in the village hall and a special memento brooch was designed and presented to every member in 1984.

A Red, White and Blue dance raised £90 for St. Mary’s Hospice and the year was rounded off with the annual Group Carol service.

The Jubilee Wall Hanging and some of the members who worked on it, 1984

Jubilee Year, we slipped back in time with members dressed in land girls, munitions workers and A.T.S. uniforms.

At our Open Day we showed the residents of Wythall what being a member of Wythall WI means and what an active part we play in the community.