Rydal W.I.

The WI was formed in 1952 and the first meeting  was held at  Rydal Cottage   (now Manor Cottage) ,   the home of  Miss Florence Anderton .   The first President  was Mrs Joan Curwen (nee le Fleming) and Miss Anderton was the  secretary.

 After that the meetings were held in the Reading Room, Rydal and there was strong support from the village.   The  WI’s were  instrumental in covering social  issues and  in the early years  Rydal keenly  supported the weekly collection of  household rubbish .   Up until the late 50’s    rubbish was collected monthly and previous to that it  was collected by Edgar Walker (a resident of Rydal), with a horse and cart and this was  put into the lower quarry hole at the Loughrigg Quarries.   Today the National Federation are campaigning for improved children’s diets, exercise and a health campaign petition for children.

The membership was always about 50-strong and there was often a waiting list of people from Ambleside wanting  to join this small friendly  institute.    Every March   a ‘Spring Show’ was held in the Reading Room;  competitors  from Rydal and neighbouring institutes joined in the fun as everyone  was keen to win the first prize in the cookery section or  flower arranging or handicrafts sections.   This was the main money raising event of the year and true to WI tradition, coffee and home-made biscuits, cottage pie lunches and afternoon tea was served.

Our institute is in the  Cumbria-Westmorland Federation whose headquarters are in Kendal.   Rydal  is in the  Lakes Group of this Federation  which includes Ambleside, Grasmere, Hawkshead/Outgate and Brathay.

Members are encouraged to join in county-wide activities such as  croquet, tennis, quiz nights, learning to speak with confidence, painting days, upholstery classes and walks, visits to important exhibitions,  overnight   trips to London to take in shopping, galleries and a show.   Many members have attended  pottery, cookery and  millinery   courses  at Denman College, the WI house in Oxfordshire.

 Despite trying to encourage younger women  into this organisation, the membership has gone down. Over the years there have been many recruitment drives from the National Federation but it is very hard to persuade working women  to come and join us – if only they realized what fun they could  have.

 Rydal WI no longer meets in Rydal village itself.     Because the Reading Room  did not have a ‘proper’   toilet,   and we learnt there was a fund available to update  the facilities of village halls,   the WI sought permission to get a grant to put in a toilet.   Unfortunately we didn’t get the support of our Landlord and we were forced to find an alternative venue.

Rydal WI meets every 2nd Tuesday in the month at The Mackereth Suite, The Kelsick Centre, St.Mary's Lane, Ambleside, Cumbria LA22 9DG at 7.30 pm on the second Tuesday in the month (except  in August). If  you want to know more about Rydal  WI Here is the website link: