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1940s

1940

The Ministry of Food allocated sugar to the NFWI to be distributed to WI Preservation Centres in order to make jam and can produce which would otherwise go to waste. All the produce then went into the nation's food supply.

WI Preservation centre
WI Preservation centre

Using canning machines many sent from USA
Using canning machines, many sent from the USA

1941

The NFWI published a report based on a survey carried out amongst WI members who housed evacuees, Town Children through Country Eyes. This stimulated a national debate about support for families ultimately leading to the setting up of family allowances after the war.

Evacuees on their way to the countryside
Evacuees on their way to the countryside

1942

The NFWI evacuated the London Headquarters first to Hertfordshire and then to Surrey

NFWI Evacuated to Pudiphats farm
The NFWI evacuated to Pudiphats Farm

WI members raised money for ambulances

WI ambulance being handed over by Lady Denman outside the London HQ of NFWI
A WI ambulance being handed over by Lady Denman outside the London HQ of the NFWI

1943

The subscription rate was raised to  two shillings and sixpence (five pence went to the National Federation and seven pence to the county federation). Mrs Churchill came to the WI's Consultative Council to thank members for their help with her Aid to Russia Fur Scheme.

The first AGM since 1939 was held; resolutions discussed included urging the Government that equal facilities for full education at all levels should be provided in town and country and a demand that men and women should receive equal pay for equal work.

The Queen at the AGM standing next to Lady Denman, singing Jerusalem
The Queen at the AGM standing next to Lady Denman, singing 'Jerusalem'

In September the Questions of the Day residential conference held at Radbrook College was addressed by Sir Richard Livingstone who suggested that the WI should start its own residential college of adult education.

1944

Potato baskets    

WI members helped to make potato baskets for the Ministry of Agriculture and collected herbs for medicinal purposes.

Left: Potato baskets.
Below: Herb collection

Herb collection


1945

AGM decides to form a WI College. There were now 6,033 WIs.

1946

Activities included the first Combined Arts Festival. Lady Denman retired and Lady Albemarle was elected NFWI Chairman. The Carnegie United Kingdom Trust (CUKT) provided a grant to start WIs in the Channel Islands.

Lady Albemarle 
Lady Albemarle

1947

Operation Produce was launched during this year, to encourage WI members to grow more food in their gardens and small holdings, as rationing continued. The first WI in the Channel Islands was formed. Rural midwives were now allowed to use analgesics, something for which the WI had campaigned.

Midwife (a WI member) visiting in a village  

Left: Midwife (a WI member) visiting in a village
Below: Operation Produce

Operation produce

 
1948

The WI college, Denman College, opened its doors to students this year. The WI subscription was raised to three shillings and sixpence (one shilling to the National Federation, one shilling and sixpence to the county federation and one shilling to the WI).

The first Warden was Miss Elizabeth (Betty) Christmas.

1949

The first WI was formed in the Isle of Man. The total number of WIs rose to 7,281.