Blantyre Women’s Volunteer Service



Women’s Volunteer Service 1943 (not Blantyre)

Occasionally, I read about organisations that were short lived in Blantyre, or set up specifically for a cause during a short time. One such example of this was during WW2, when a women’s group was formed in Blantyre for the purposes of assisting with war efforts. I absolutely must include such commendable wartime actions into these history archives. On 29th November 1941, the local press reported;

“At a largely well attended meeting in the Welfare hall on Monday night, a lengthy report of the work carried out in Blantyre by the local W.V.S organisation was submitted by Mrs Quentin Smith, the local leader.

She said they had sent to the Red Cross Society, through Mrs Paul, a large supply of necessary supplies and equipment in connection with war efforts, and in this she gave credit to Mrs Norris, Mr Johnstone and Mrs Miller for the service they had rendered in the production of garments and underwear. Perhaps said Mrs Smith, their best efforts was the running the rest centre after the Clydebank blitz, and under the convenor ship of Mrs McGurk, Mrs Harper and Mrs McKenzie, the ladies carried out a grand bit of work. She emphasised the fact that they could not have too many helpers to assist at rest centres.

She learned that a mobile (soup) canteen was to be stationed at Blantyre and would be staffed by their members, and to meet an emergency, if it should arise, two food centres have been set up at Calder Street School and St Joseph’s School, under the charge of Miss Gilmour and Miss Dick, two domestic science teachers.

The County Council intended to set up a British restaurant in the Parish and a rest camp, which was expected would be established. A shop had been taken in the Masonic Halls property at Glasgow Road and would be open every Monday and Thursday.

Mrs Smith read a letter of thanks she had received from the manager of Messrs Colvilles, Ltd., expressing their gratitude to the Blantyre Women’s Voluntary Service (W.V.S) for the splendid work they carried out in connection with their mobile canteen. As the result of the ladies activities with the canteen, she handed over to their treasurer the sum of £58 12s 4d, which would go to their own fund to assist distressed families. “

The Women’s Voluntary Service had played an invaluable role in assisting people during the worst days of the Blitz in 1940-1941. Groups sprang up all over the country including Central Scotland. On a wider scale, especially in Southern England, they helped the homeless and the lost wherever and whenever the bombers struck Britain throughout the war. They also played an important role in many other aspects of wartime life. The Blantyre WVS was so successful, that it continued on beyond the end of the war, undertaking charitable acts and events around Blantyre. Pictured are the women of WVS outside a Mobile canteen which looks as though it has been provided by the Ministry of Food.

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  1. Mrs Smith was my gran and wife of Quentin the headmaster at one of the local schools. I don’t remember living in Blantyre myself as I was too young, but remember visiting my gran & papa in Glasgow road from about 1956, think she died in 58/59.

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