100 Years of The Women's Institute

Linton WI South Derbyshire Centenary Report

The Women’s Institute movement in Britain began in Anglesey in 1915 to encourage women to grow and preserve food during the war years. It would be many years before the movement reached the small village of Linton in South Derbyshire.

The following information gives a glimpse of WI life in Linton:


  • The first meeting of Linton WI took place on July 10 1946 at Linton School and was attended by 53 women. Mrs Bailey was the first president.
  • There was a photograph of Lady Inglefield, the county chairman in the front cover of the first record book.
  • One notable comment during the first year was the intention of the WI to work towards the building of a village hall.
  • At the first AGM after the war, Lady Denman, the first president of the National Federation of Women’s Institute, retired.


  • The second president was Mrs Harding.
  • The March meeting closed early due to a fuel crisis.
  • Raffle prizes were foodstuffs like ham, eggs or sugar.
  • The Produce Guild worked towards an exhibition in Burton–on-Trent and a trading stall was set up.
  • There was a range of craft classes like leatherwork, dressmaking, glove and slipper making ongoing throughout the year.
  • A report was received from Stoney Creek, Canada - the original WI - in reply to Linton’s letter.


  • A food parcel was received from Australia. The plum pudding, the steak and kidney pudding and the honey were used for raffle prizes and the jelly and dripping were used at the second birthday party event.
  • One member was congratulated on having three jars of jelly on show in the London Produce Exhibition.
  • Twenty members got together to form a choir.
  • There was a drama festival and a country-dance festival.
  • Denman College opened.


  • Mrs Harding continued in her role as president until 1956.
  • Two members were applauded for achieving 86% in their jam test.
  • The Village Hall Memorial Fund total stood at £97.
  • 22lbs of rose hips were collected and distributed.


  • Lady Inglefield died and two members attended the memorial service in Derby Cathedral.


  • It was reported that the market stall at Burton-on-Trent was to be registered as the Staffordshire County Marketing Society Ltd. It was proposed that Linton WI had a 5 shilling share in the market stall.


  • One member obtained a first class pass in her bottling test.
  • Some members were interested in the welfare foods distribution centres.
  • A link was established with Thornton WI in Ontario, Canada.


  • Members committed to collect milk bottle tops in aid of guide dogs for blind people.
  • There was a collection for the flood distress fund.
  • The first mention was made of the Denman College fund target.


  • In the financial statement at the AGM it was noted that the balance in hand was 1 shilling and 9 pence
  • Members used a coach to transport them 2 miles to the local village of Rosliston.


  • A coach was booked to transport members to the local village of Overseal, also 2 miles away.
  • Money was sent to the Lady Denman Memorial Fund.


  • Members visited Bretby Orthopaedic Hospital.
  • WI diaries were available.


  • Mrs L Williams became the president.
  • The cost of hiring the school hall increased to 9 shilling and 9 pence.


  • Mrs Williams continued as president.


  • Mrs Bagguley became the president and remained in post until 1969.
  • Members had an outing to Denman College.


  • Members travelled via the M1 to see My Fair Lady at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London.
  • A frozen food demonstration was attended by members.


  • A new division of the Seales group was set up which consisted of the villages of Castle Gresley, Linton, Netherseal, Overseal, Rosliston and Cauldwell, Stanton-by-Newhall and Walton on Trent.


  • Monogrammed crockery was purchased.
  • The subscription was raised to 5 shillings.


  • There was a corsetry demonstration.
  • Members observed a minute’s silence for President Kennedy.


  • There were many outings to places of interest during the 1960s and coaches were frequently used to transport members.
  • Many craft classes were offered to members.


  • Members celebrated the WI’s Golden Jubilee.
  • The AGM in London was attended by HRH the Queen Mother


  • Power cuts were reported.


  • The village hall plans were on show.
  • Smear tests for cervical cancer became available.
  • Members signed the memento tablecloth for their 21st birthday.
  • Foot and Mouth disease was mentioned.


  • Baby clinics were set up in the village at Linton Heath Methodist Church.
  • The ‘I’m Backing Britain’ campaign began.


  • During the 1960s many members were presented with gifts on the occasion of their weddings and on the arrival of babies.


  • Mrs P Ellis became the president.
  • Conservation and footpaths in the village were discussed.
  • A new playgroup was set up.


  • A letter was received from the link institute in Canada.
  • Decimal currency day was February 15.
  • Plans for the new village hall, now under construction, were on view.
  • The Silver Jubilee meeting was celebrated.


  • Mrs Bagguley became the president again and remained in post until 1980.
  • The village hall was officially opened on September 23.


  • The first WI dance in the new village hall was organised.
  • There was a ceremonial tree planting at the village hall.
  • Vic Halom, a local man and son of a member played in the winning FA Cup final at Wembley. He visited the school to show the children his medal.


  • The Metrication Board sent leaflets offering advice on converting from imperial to metric measurements.
  • Due to the sugar shortage, members were asked to supply their own, and no cakes were offered.
  • A letter was received from Newborough WI in Staffordshire regarding forming a link between the two institutes.
  • Many babies were born to WI members during the 70s and 80s.
  • Derbyshire House was opened.


  • The cost of a cup of tea was increased to 3p.


  • Linton WI ordered the book ‘Jam and Jerusalem’ on the history of the WI.
  • Information was received on Dutch elm disease.
  • There were links developing with the Pastures and Bretby Hospital.


  • Plans were made for Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee celebrations 6 June.


  • Stickers for the campaign Keep Britain Tidy were received.


  • Members learnt of the death of the Canadian correspondent.


  • Mrs Bagguley began the year as president but resigned on doctor’s advice. Mrs Spare then accepted the role.


  • Mrs Spare continued as the president.
  • A card was received from the link institute in Canada.


  • News was dominated by the Falklands War.
  • At the AGM members passed a resolution on the dangers of solvent abuse.


  • Mrs I Lord became the president.


  • Mrs I Lord continued as the president.
  • A Christmas card from Canada was received very belatedly in February after being lost in the postal system and travelling to Cheshire.


  • The estate of the Harpur Crewe’s, Calke Abbey was transferred to the National Trust.


  • Mrs P Whetton became the president and has remained in post until the present day.
  • An embroidery wall panel was produced for an event at Elvaston Castle.
  • A Christmas card was sent to the link institute in Canada on the occasion of their 40th birthday celebrations.


  • The year Magic Attic was established in Swadlincote. This was a voluntarily run and publicly accessible archive offering old newspapers dating from 1782 and many resources of interest to the general public.
  • A WI founder member, Miss Bentley, was awarded the MBE.
  • There was a microwave demonstration.


  • Members supported the local hospice, St Giles, with the gifts of tray cloths.
  • The last day of production at the last remaining coalfield in South Derbyshire was marked. The Cadley Hill mine closed on March 25.
  • There was a talk on the National Trust’s Calke Abbey, which was being restored to the condition it was in 100 years ago showing an estate in decline.


  • Toyota Manufacturing UK was established in South Derbyshire, and currently employs over 3,000 people. The district’s motto, ‘The Earth our Wealth’ took on a whole new meaning with the creation of the National Forest, which transformed 200 square miles of the local area through the planting of millions of trees.


  • Subscriptions were raised to £7.50.
  • Members celebrated the 500th meeting.


  • A VCO attended to present the resolutions to be debated at the First Triennial General Meeting at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. The issues concerned the dangers of paracetamol, childcare, and deductions from pensions after 6 weeks in hospital.
  • There was a talk and demonstration on Well Dressing from Newborough WI.


  • Linton WI produced a group meeting entertainment in the style of music hall.


  • Linton’s treasurer Thelma Smith was acknowledged for not missing a single meeting in 21 years. Similarly, Lily Corner had not missed a meeting in 30 years.


  • There was a discussion on organ donation.
  • The Rosliston Forestry Centre in the newly created National Forest was opened.
  • There was a talk on the Air Ambulance Service.


  • There was a talk by local Chelsea Flower Show winners.


  • This was an action packed year of celebration to mark Linton WI’s 50th birthday.
  • There was a ceremonial tree planting in Foxley Field, the heart of the newly created National Forest, and a Jubilee Concert featuring Derbyshire writer and broadcaster Deric Longden. The Coral Gould singers attended a bumper party, which brought together past and present members in an unforgettable evening of humour, music and nostalgia.
  • The same year saw the re-enactment of the ancient ceremony of Beating the Bounds, which marked the village boundary, and traditionally took place on Rogation Day.
  • There was a special meeting with Notable Company under their musical director Chris Mallinson, with attendance of over 100 members past and present.


  • There was a speaker from the new National Forest.
  • There was an illustrated talk on Sudbury Hall, a local National Trust property.
  • A village fete was organised to mark the Silver Jubilee of Linton Village Hall.


  • Members enjoyed a talk by the curator of Melbourne Hall.
  • Linton performed the group meeting entertainment, ‘Murder on the Orient Express.’


  • There was a talk by local historian Graham Nutt on the Magic Attic at Linton’s 600th meeting.
  • A bulb planting ceremony took place at Linton School. Hundreds of crocuses, one for each child in the school, were planted in anticipation of a magnificent display in the springtime of the next millennium.
  • The Calendar Girls calendar caused a huge reaction.
  • Linton hosted the group meeting.


  • Thelma Smith’s record of unbroken attendance stood at 28 years.
  • There was a talk by the curator of Bass Museum.
  • Linton WI performed the pantomime Robin of ‘Foxley’.


  • The National Memorial Arboretum was officially opened in tribute to the men and women of the twentieth century who lost their lives in conflict or on duty.
  • Foot and mouth disease curtailed the recently commenced rambling club’s activities.
  • Princess Anne opened the Conkers Discovery Centre.
  • Linton donated a seat to the Millennium Chapel of Peace and Forgiveness at the National Memorial Arboretum.
  • The Group meeting, hosted by Linton, featured a year in music incorporating the chimes of Big Ben and ending with Neil Sedaka’s Calendar Girl. This was Linton’s interpretation of a WI calendar.


  • Susan Bell, Director of the National Forest Company talked to members at the Spring Council Meeting in Buxton about the plan to plant 30 million trees.
  • The Queen’s Golden Jubilee was celebrated with an indoor street party.


  • There were visits to Tutbury Castle and Catton Hall.
  • Sharpe’s Pottery in Swadlincote opened.
  • Calendar Girls, the film, opened.
  • Drakelow Power Station closed.
  • A hexagonal tree seat was made for Linton School by one member’s husband.
  • Women’s Institute ‘Forget Me Not Memorial Garden was planted with bulbs and a tree in memory of members and friends of the WI.
  • The WI circular was renamed the Derbyshire Link.


  • The WI’s heritage weekend at Linton School attracted over a hundred visitors to the two-day event. Historical village records and photographs were on display.
  • There was a talk on Calke Abbey.


  • Members visited Tutbury Castle.
  • The president, in her reports referred to the WI’s motto ‘Truth, Tolerance, Justice and Friendship’.
  • ‘Stepping Out’ celebrated 90 years of the WI. Linton’s treasurer walked a formidable 650miles.
  • Rickman’s Corner Community Centre Linton was opened.


  • This was a year packed with celebrations to mark Linton WI’s 60th year. Numerous events were held which had a positive effect on the wider community.
  • The birthday dinner was held at the Littleover Lodge Derby.
  • There was a visit to Tissington Hall.
  • The Queen’s 80th birthday was marked.
  • The final Issue of Home and Country magazine was distributed.


  • Members visited Staunton Harold.
  • The first issues of the new look and controversial magazine WI Life were distributed.
  • Members walked from Conkers to Blackfordby.


  • Members took part in a walk at Chatsworth House.
  • Renee Brown the only founder member celebrated her 90th birthday.
  • There were visits to Lichfield Cathedral, Eyam Hall and Shugborough.


  • Members visited Haddon Hall and Derby Cathedral.
  • Members had a talk about Conkers Discovery Centre. The speaker advised us to think globally and act locally.
  • The WI seat at the National Memorial Arboretum was dedicated.
  • Wonderful gold treasure was found near Lichfield, called the Staffordshire Hoard.
  • There was a talk on the Staffordshire Millennium Embroideries, which took over 5 years to complete.
  • A local lady gave a talk on the Footprints Orphanage she has set up in Kenya.


  • Members made a long-awaited visit to Highgrove Gardens, which was described as a brilliant day out.


  • Members visited Linton’s vineyard and heritage cottage, which is at the home of a Linton member. They were treated to a guided tour and wine tasting.
  • A posh party was held to celebrate the marriage of Prince William to Kate Middleton.


  • Linton’s longstanding treasurer Thelma Smith of 39 years retired. Her remarkable achievement included a run of 28 years without missing a single meeting.
  • The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations were marked with a village flower festival.
  • The London Olympic Games were held.


  • An evening of croquet was organised.
  • Linton WI ‘s news appeared on the Internet for the first time.


  • The National Forest Way was officially opened. There are 75 miles of walks from the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to Beacon Hill Country Park in Leicestershire.
  • Linton was represented at the Centenary Baton handover at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas.
  • The death was announced of the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire.
  • Renee Brown, the last founder member, died at the age of 96.


  • 2015 started with 28 members and a busy programme of activities planned to celebrate the centenary.

From its beginnings in 1946, Linton WI has changed as it has moved with the times, but in many respects it has stayed the same. There is still an emphasis on food, friendship and fun. No special occasion can slip by without a celebration to accompany it. The group continues to enjoy the local National Trust properties and other heritage sites in the local area. Local theatre, village groups and the wider community groups are supported. Linton members maintain and explore links with other groups and consider new opportunities as they arise, and they look forward to the future with optimism.