Palterton Women's Institute

Sample of Womens Institute crockery

1944.  Wednesday, 1 March.  Formation meeting of the Womens Institute in Palterton was held in the Council School.

Twenty three members were enrolled and paid subscriptions.

Mrs Stanley, a Voluntary Council Organiser, attended and addressed the meeting on these aims and objectives of the movement.

The aims and objectives of the Women's Institute movement, being its educational purpose and non-party political, non-sectarian character.

The duties of membership, financial obligations to the County and National Federation were outlined, also the self governing principles of Institute work.

She described the useful services that Institutes were giving to the community during war time.

Four resolutions were proposed and carried.
1. That a Women's Institute be formed in Palterton.
2. That this be called Palterton Women's Institute.
3. That girls be admitted at the age of 16 years.
4. That the Institute committee consist of ten elected members.

1944.  Wednesday, 15 March.  It was agreed the first meeting of the Institute be held at the Council Day School at 6.30 p.m. this date.

Meanwhile Mrs Turner, MC Donald and Thacker would act as a temporary committee.  Twenty nominations were submitted in writing for the committee and their names in alphabetical order were:

Miss B. Carter, Mrs Carter, Mrs Edwards, Mrs Fenton, Mrs Fisher, Mrs Gould, Mrs Jones, Mrs Lodge, Miss Middleton, Mrs Wale, Mrs McDonald, Mrs Russon, Mrs Spray, Mrs Thacker, Mrs E.Townsend, Mrs N. Townsend, Mrs Turner, Mrs Wholey, Mrs Williams and Mrs Wragg.

The first meeting of Palterton Women's Institute took place as arranged.  Twenty nine members present and eight new members were enrolled.

The rules of the Women's Institute were explained by the temporary Chairman, Mrs Stanley, the Voluntary Council Officer.  A letter was read from Lady Denham, Chairman of the National Federation, congratulating the Institute on it's formation.

The result of the ballot was made, the following members were duly elected to serve on the committee.

Mesdames Edwards, Fenton, Fisher, Lodge, Spray, McDonald, Thacker, Turner, E.Townsend and Miss Bunting.

Mrs. Turner was elected President and Mrs C. Edwards of Crow Hill Drive, Palterton was elected Secretary.

It was agreed that the monthly meetings of this Institute, be held at 7.p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month at the school.

20 October 1944.  The first annual General Meeting of this Institute was held in the school.  Eighteen members attended.  The meeting report records the Chairmanship and Annual Report were fairly good, the Secretary's work was good, as was the financial report.  There was not enough 'cash in hand' at the year end.

Almost without exception, this was the same story throughout its existence.

The general remarks reveal "this small W.I. goes along quite happily but only half the members actually live in the village."

Consideration was given to reducing the committee to eight at a special meeting.  It was also suggested some money raising events should be arranged.

Womens Institute celebration

Only a few members bought 'Home and County' the Womens Institute magazine.

Meetings commenced with the singing of "Jerusalem" followed by minutes of the previous meeting, the County Newsletter and any noteworthy items.  Always there was a competition of some description and mostly a visiting speaker on a wide range of subjects.

For several years, meetings were mostly held in the Council school but when the cost of hiring that building escalated, the venue moved to the Methodist Chapel and finally to the home of a member at Hall Farm.

At one time a couple of meetings were held at the Assembly Rooms, Bolsover during a caretakers strike.

This small Womens Institute continued merrily along but was never a financial success, although it never went into debt.

Friendship and happiness were more important to this small Institute than financial success.

Palterton Womens Institute was a member of the Hardwick group of the W.I.  This group held a meeting at Palterton on Wednesday, 17 April 1946.  There were 100 members present from Elmton, Cresswell, Bolsover, Doe Lea, Langwith Junction, Duckmanton, Scarcliffe and Palterton.

Mrs Gray, Palterton, presided. Mr Allen, Derby gave an address "History of Derbyshire".  A report of this meeting appeared in the Derbyshire Times newspaper on Friday 26 April 1946.

1953.  Saturday, 16 October.  Grand Pavilion, Matlock Bath.

Mrs Ruth Audis attended the autumn meeting of the Council of the Derbyshire Federation of the Women's Institutes, as a delegate.

Womens Institute Logo

She recalled the large hall of the Grand Pavilion was just large enough to house all who wished to attend the meeting - delegates from over one hundred and fifty Institutes.

Of the one hundred and sixty nine Institutes in membership, with over nine thousand members, all except twelve were represented.

The years between 1915, when the Womens Institute movement was founded, and 1953, had seen enormous changes in village life.  The movement was seen against a different background.  The members had more opportunity for expression and deeper thinking.

Country women entering the movement were much better educated than in 1915.  Even so the movement in Derbyshire was experiencing difficulties finding members whose circumstances permitted them to carry out work as Voluntary Council Officers.

None of the Palterton W.I. members was a V.C.O.  There were only twelve in the county.  The demands were such that a V.C.O. must be comparatively young, very active and preferably mobile to attend meetings, sometimes in isolated villages.

Either widows or spinsters were ideal for a V.C.O. post because husbands would not stand for it.  Also there was little glory in being a V.C.O. and one suspects this distanced the ambitious from getting involved in such voluntary duties.

The County treasurer, Mrs Stanley, in presenting her budget for 1954, told the meeting that the income from December 1952 to Aug. 1953 was 1485.  Expenditure over the same period was 1438.  There was a balance of 700 in the Bank.

It had been suggested that the W.I. had become International, but most village people did not want to send representatives of the movement to a conference in Canada and Malaysia.

The membership of Palterton W.I. (and other villages) were paying Affiliation fees of about 5 per annum, when their own Branch was in need of funds.

1956.  Palterton W.I. had a cash balance of 7..9s..10d. out of a total income of 37..12s..8d.  Their financial position was always a worry.

Throughout it's latter years one of the largest out goings was to the Derbyshire Education Committee for meetings in the school hall.

Mrs Ruth Audis was chosen as a delegate to attend the Thirty Seventh Annual General Meeting of the National Federation of Women's Institutes, held at the Royal Albert Hall, London on Thursday, 5 June 1958.

She retained both her 'Final Agenda' and rough notes she made at the time and from which she subsequently gave her 'Delegates report' to her Branch members.  They paint a vivid picture of her trip to London.

1958.  Wednesday, 4 June.  She left home at 10.15 a.m. a lovely sunny day and travelled by bus to Chesterfield where she met up with the delegate from Calow W.I. at the railway station.

They enjoyed a pleasant journey to London where they arrived at London St. Pancras railway station about 4 p.m.  After a "quick wash & brush up" at their hotel, the couple went sightseeing arriving back at the hotel about 10.30 p.m.

Her seat at the conference was on the third floor in the Hall.  She took her seat, next to the County Chairman. She recalled "what a marvellous sight it was to see the Hall packed with women dressed in lovely summer dresses and suits of nearly every different colour".

The speakers platform was decorated with pink and blue hydrangeas with green foliage.  She was clearly impressed by the outfits worn by the national officials, to whom money would be no object.

Her excellent report included a few dont's by the national Chairman, Lady Dyer, such as asking "those delegates sitting in the balcony not to drop crumbs during lunch on the delegates seated below".

Mrs. Audis enjoyed this A.G.M. and was thrilled to see the fashions on display.  It is people like her who are the backbone of the Women's Institute.

Womens Institute celebration

1965.  The first three months saw new members being enrolled.  Meetings were being held in the Primitive Methodist Chapel.

1968.  15 June.  Several members attended the Golden Jubilee Rally held in Chatsworth Park, Derbyshire.

1968.  8 October 1968.  The monthly meeting saw an increase in subscriptions to 10 shillings per annum.

1969.  Annual General Meeting - a total of 23 members attended.

1969-70:  The committee were Mesdames Dent, Parker, Lunn, Payne, Grainger, Thacker, Cuff, H. Wragg, C. Audis and Ruth Audis.

1970.  February:  The last meeting in the Primitive Methodist Chapel. Thereafter a new venue had to be found for the meetings.

1971.  March.  Institute was in financial difficulties and it was decided to ask for a V.C.O. to attend the A.G.M. on the 20.10.71.

1972.  June:  Meeting held in St. Luke's Mission.  The cost of hiring the school hall for the last year up to 1972 was 17..15s. out of a total income of 79..32s.

1972. April:  Membership had a lengthy discussion on the financial position of the Institute and decided to ask for a V.C.O. to attend to discuss matters.

1972.  July:  Monthly meeting, membership took a written vote on " whether our Institute would be able to carry on next year".

There was a majority vote for the Institute to be suspended.

1972.  September:  The death bell was sounded.  Mrs Hughes, a V.C.O. gave a detailed talk about the implications of suspension.

Mrs Thacker proposed "that our Institute should be suspended".  The motion was seconded by Mrs Parker.  A secret ballot was held.  The motion was carried and Palterton Womens Institute was suspended.

At that time the Institute had 19 members.  All that remained was to dispose of a few possessions.  Mrs Neep was given the bell.  Mrs Spray was President at the suspension.

My grandmother Fanny Richards formerly Hardy was never a member of the Womens Institute, nor were any of her daughters, but she did go with Palterton W.I. on several of their visits to places of interest.

1982.  Thursday, 4 November.  A formation meeting was held in Palterton Council school, the object being to form a branch of the Womens Institute in Palterton.

Mrs. Hirst, a Voluntary County Organiser attended, welcomed those present, thanked the Head teacher of the school for her hospitality.  A new branch of the Women's Institute in Palterton was formed.

2001. November.  This branch of the Womens Institute closed.

Palterton Women's Institute


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Created 2 December 2001
Last updated: 1 February 2004