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The Women's Institute

Links with other villages

From the beginning, the branch was concerned to fraternise with other villages. One of the first events they organised in the December of their first year was an entertainment for Marston WI. They aimed to ask the men to join them as thanks for the use of their room and the free lighting and heating they had enjoyed.

In 1921, they organised a competition for plain and fancy needlework, to be judged by Marston WI, and a hat trimming competition for the men. Mrs Cox and Mrs Webb would give a duologue and there would be music and games. This became a regular event, with hospitality being reciprocated by Marston WI. In 1922 they were invited down to Marston, to be taken there by Beckley Carriers. A competition for the men was not hat trimming but darning and Miss Hatt of Church Farm agreed to provide stockings for them to darn.

The liveliness of the Elsfield branch meant that there was an increasing number of people joining the branch from Beckley, who were conveyed to Elsfield by carrier. It was agreed they would pay 3d each towards the cost of the carrier and the rest would be provided from branch funds.

The Summer Rally and Fete organised by the County at New College was a highlight which attracted members’ support. They contributed to the gift stall, with Mrs Elkington making a cake, Miss Parsons contributing a raffia basket and Mrs Clinkard making a cake and a pot of jam. The whole group practised three folk songs to be sung at the fete and it was suggested they should hire a brake to take them there as some members would find it rather a long way to walk.

The establishment of bus services in the country areas had made it much easier for people to get around and the Elsfield bus service was to continue into the 1960s, when the increase in car ownership meant that there was much less demand for a bus. One regular task which fell to Mrs Buchan as President was to communicate with Oxford Bus Company to try to improve the service. One year she was asked to point out that the buses were crowded and the same amount was charged from Oxford to Elsfield, four miles, as to Forest Hill, seven miles. Later Mrs Buchan had to write to the Oxford Bus Company to ask for an extra bus both morning and afternoon to take everyone to Oxford for an exhibition of produce. At this event Miss Parsons coordinated the vegetable display and Mrs Buchan gave 4/5d to the tea and outing fund[1].

[1] This is a great deal better than in the 21st century when there are three buses a week into Oxford on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
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