The Early Years
The first Bitton WI meeting was held on 25 April 1939 in St Mary's schoolroom. This was the year that saw the countdown to the Second World War when air raid precautions, gas masks and blackouts concerned the whole nation.
The village had a very mixed economy which saved it from the worst of the unemployment and depression being experienced by most of Britain's industry. The men and women of Bitton were employed in metal works, agriculture, the railway, local shops as well as domestic service.
Despite the rigours of war, Bitton was very active. In 1940 they were able to send a substantial supply of clothes to bombed out families as a result of their house-to-house collections. A centre in the village was formed to take excess fruit and vegetables from gardens, allotments and orchards from which preserves were made to sell. Bitton made 115 lbs of jam and the profit of £8.14s.0d was sent to the Lord Mayor of Bristol for the Air Raid Fund.
Bitton also adopted a prisoner of war - James Charles Green - and regular payments, cigarettes and parcels were sent to him via the Red Cross. This was possible through the regular collection of 1d / 2d from members. In 1944 the Government introduced an order which meant that Bitton could no longer send its parcel to James Green, so they continued to collect monies and presented him with a cheque on his return.
Contact the NFWI
- Phone: 020 7371 9300
- Open hours: 9am–5pm Mon–Fri
- Address: 104 New Kings Road, London SW6 4LY
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