Minchinhampton W.I. - April 2018

Minchinhampton W.I. met in the Library on March 7th. The president welcomed members and gave out birthday cards to those celebrating birthdays in March.

W.I. business included: Discount for those visiting Countryside Live at Blenheim House in August; Walks at Mitcheldean and Cleeve Hill; Bowls taster session at Glos Spa Bowling Club; Makume Game workshop; Talk on Paganism. It was decided to donate the W.I. Poppy collection to the town appeal for a display in the Undercroft to celeb
rate the end of WWI. Members were reminded of the Group meeting to be held on May 9th at the Hub.

We were entertained by a warm and humourous talk by Mr Brian Bailey entitled ‘Scillonian Summer’. Having spent several Easter Holidays on St Agnes, on of the Isles of Scilly, Mr Bailey had a wish to spend an entire year there. He managed to persuade his wife to agree to renting a cottage with no services except running water and a telephone. The had a generator to provide electricity; his daughter brought the school population to 31.

Meat arrived on the island on Tuesday and Friday and most people made their own bread. There were about 14 farms on the island, the biggest being 7 acres. The main crop was daffodils; picking started at the end of October when 2-3 boxes a day were produced and at the height of the season, 200 boxes a day were produced. The season ended at Easter. Every year, a third of the bulbs were lifted and replaced. The industry died out when British Raid stopped running the ‘Daffodil Train’ from Penzance and the flowers had to go by road.

In the 1970s, there were 2 doctors, 4 nurses , 3 district nurses and a small hospital on the main island, St Mary’s, to service all the islands. There was also a vet and dentist. Farming or fishing were the main occupations in the 1970s and there were about 300 visitors a year. These days, there are about 18,000 visitors a year and tourism is the main occupation. The family lived on St Agnes for 8 years before returning to Gloucestershire.

Our meeting ended with the usual tea and biscuits.

Sue Bromley