Acklington WI, May meeting

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Stirring memories

The decades were peeled back at Acklington WI as our speakers, Jane Mann and Hilary Waugh, from Bailiffgate Museum, took us on a nostalgic journey to the ‘50s and ‘60s with a variety of clothing and everyday objects to stir memories of younger days.

Liberty bodices, suspenders and stockings, corsets, capacious Aertex knickers, Marcel hair wavers to curl and singe your hair, and knitted bathing costumes which tended to stretch when wet – if any of these strike a chord then you’re giving your age away.

Indeed, Hilary herself proved to be an exhibit in her full skirted coat from 1951 and glamorous dress made for a 21st birthday in the late ‘50s.

Their entertaining anecdotes were reminders of how social acceptability has changed, such as the scarlet underwear from the ‘50s, which caused the owner’s mother to declare that “under no circumstances would it be hung out on my washing line”.

Changes in rites of passage, too, were noted by the engine turned hairbrush, mirror dressing table set and the charm bracelet, popular birthday gifts to mark a girl’s transition to grown-up status on reaching 21.

We were invited to have a good rummage and choose something of personal significance to share with the group. One member was soon wearing a hat and gloves similar to those she had worn to go on honeymoon, whilst others recalled what they did on Coronation Day, 1953.

All the exhibits have been donated by the public and the museum is run almost entirely by volunteers. There is a Friends of the Museum scheme, which offers excellent value at £15 a year for unlimited visits.

Sheenagh voiced our appreciation of Jane and Hilary’s entertaining and evocative presentation.

Then followed the usual business. After some discussion, the group arrived at the mandate for the delegate to vote on the resolutions to be tabled at the forthcoming annual meeting in Brighton. Entries for the Ringtons Tea Competition were finalised, and arrangements made for the garden party in June.

The winners of the competition for Any Old Thing were: 1st Margaret Hammond with her book from 1746; 2nd Sheenagh Deakin with an antique watering can and June Barras with a Lepidodendron fossil from the coal measures of 300 to 250 million years ago.

The evening ended with informal time for tea and talk.

The next meeting will be our garden party on Saturday, June 18.