The History of Arnside Women's Institute

 

Arnside Women’s Institute (one of the oldest in England) was formed in 1919 at the instigation of Mrs. Heath, wife of a Macclesfield silk manufacturer, & Miss Crane, a vicar’s daughter.

Originally 26 members joined and a committee was elected with Mrs Heath as President and Miss Crane as Vice President.

Early meetings were held at various member's homes and venues around Arnside. As time went on, the decision was taken that Arnside WI required their own premises. Eventually, with a lot of hard work, members raised enough funds through coffee mornings, sales of work and some donations, to secure a plot of land and build a hall, which was completed in 1928.

From the outset the hall was named‘The Arnside Women’s Institute and Village Hall’ as, not only was it intended as a home for the Women's Institute, but also as a venue available for use by residents of the village of Arnside.

The minutes books through the decades (stored in the county archives in Kendal) make fascinating reading, especially those from the war years. The Institute was very successful, having at one time well over a hundred members.

 

In 1980 Arnside Knott WI was formed by a small group of women who, because of business and family commitments, were unable to attend the afternoon meetings . They met in the same hall but on a Monday evening. As with all WIs, both were independent of each other and had their own committees and differing ideas of how they were to be run. They continued alongside each other for more then thirty years but slowly it became more difficult to find volunteers to help run the individual institutes and eventually in 2013, they combined to form Arnside and Arnside Knott WI where both sets of traditions work well as one.

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