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Matlock: Starkholmes Women's Institute, late 1953 - Tree Planting
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Matlock Bath's
WI panto, 1941

Past Matlock & Matlock Bath photographers

The ladies of Starkholmes Women's Institute, assembled outside the newly opened village hall which they had started to use for their meetings. On the door is a sign stating that the hall was the HQ of the 15th Matlock (Starkholmes) cubs and scouts at that time.

The WI's minutes for Wednesday 8th April 1953 record that "Mrs. Fearn treasurer was asked to order two trees (flowering cherries). These will be planted by our President Mrs. Warren and late President Mrs. Claxton, to commemorate Coronation year"[1]. Mrs. F. Warren is in the centre, holding a spade full of earth, whilst Mrs M Claxton seems to be digging. It appears to have been a jolly occasion as almost everyone was smiling.

In the front row, from the far left, are Miss Gertrude Grace Canard (with a briefcase) who is holding the arm of Mrs. Fearn, then Mrs Andrews, Mrs Carline, Mrs Connie Bowler, Mrs. Bourchier, an unknown member, Mrs. Ethel Hursthouse (who is slightly behind her) and finally Mrs. Warren (partly shown above).

The only person identified so far in the back row is Mrs Pidcock (3rd from the left).

Other committee members in 1953 were Mesdames* Paterson, Fearn, Samuel, Andrews, Teece, Cooper, Bishton, Routledge. Emily Samuel was fourth from the right in the image below, standing at the back next to the lady with the white beret. In the same row, but further to the left in front of a small window, is Elsie Routledge (nee Barron), who taught at Cromford School and was married to the headmaster. On her right, still on the back row, is Mrs Wild (in line with the sapling).

Other members, extracted from a newspaper cutting of October the same year, were Mesdames A. E. Derbyshire (the oldest of the group), Major, Swift, March, Buckley, Marcer, Beech, Holmes, Morris, Harrison, Spencer, Twigg, Pattison, Summerfield and Bradshaw. It is assumed that all of them are on the photo.

The Starkholmes branch of the WI was launched in 1950; their first meetings were held in the Duke William's upstairs room before the group moved to the Village Hall. Susan Tomlinson was told that in winter they had to take their own coal to feed the heater! They then moved down to the Town School but when it closed they had to move again and met at the new one at the side of Lower Highfields (formerly Charles White's) for a time. Unfortunately, the classroom they were offered proved to be too small. Their next meeting place was at Red Cross House where they hired a good room with a very small kitchen, but a rent increase meant another move. Their final meeting place was just across the road in the 15th Matlock Scout and Guide Headquarters.

Membership wasn't restricted to Starkholmes residents and women from both Matlock Bath and Matlock joined the group.

After just under seventy years of meetings, talks, discussions, outings, cooking, quizzes and the occasional play the Starkholmes WI was disbanded at the end of 2019.

*Mesdames was how the women were described at the time. Where initials were given, for example Mrs. F. Warren, usually indicated the husband's name rather than the Christian name of the female.

Photograph taken by Harry Gill, Bradley House Studio, Dale Road, Matlock, Tel 144. Supplied by and copyright © Susan Tomlinson collection.
This includes information from both the WI's minutes book and scrapbook which has been extracted by Susan, with additional help from Grenville Smith and his aunt.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] From Starkholmes WI minutes book. They were commemorating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.