Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Looking for Miss Wright of Chorlton in 1928 ............. and hoping for more stories about the Girls’ Friendly Society on St Clements Road

From the 1928 church Bazaar book
I wonder if I will ever find out anything about Miss Wright, President of the Girls’ Friendly Society.

In the November of 1928 she was on the G.F.S. stall along with fourteen other women at the  Church Bazaar.*

And the reason Miss Wright has attracted my attention is that she may be a clue to finding out more about the Chorlton-cum-Hardy Church Institute on St Clements Road.

I fell across the place yesterday and couldn’t resist writing about its history.**

I knew there would be further leads which would help take the story further but sadly so far Miss Wright has proved a blank and I rather think so will most of the names on the list.

A church garden party, date unknown
But I shall continue to search for each of the fifteen and one or two may turn.

The first port of call will be the church magazines for the period and then there is always the chance that the names strike a chord with someone who knew them.

Such are the ways that little bits of our history come back out of the shadows.

And there may just be an outside chance that there will be a reference to their work in the records of the Girls Friendly Society which still exists today.***

It was “was a pioneer youth organisation, founded in England in 1875 and run by women, which still operates in 23 countries. Originally established to protect young working girls, the Society continues to support girls and young women, adapting to the new challenges presented by a changing world.
GFS was officially established on 1st January 1875 by Mary Elizabeth Townsend, an Irish clergyman's daughter married to the wealthy Frederick Townsend.

At the same garden party
She was concerned with the fate of many working-class country girls who left home to take up urban employment. 

Cut off from the support of friends and family, Mrs Townsend's idea was for 'lady' Associates to befriend and guide these girls, who would form the Society's Members. Girls could join GFS from the age of 12, but from 1882 those from the age of 8 could become Candidates, preparing for membership.

By 1925, the Society had 66 Homes and Hostels in England and Wales, workers gathered for Conferences, Retreats and Training Weeks and the first Correspondence Training Course was introduced. Camps were organised for younger Members, the Readers' Union introduced a Certificate of English, and the Migration Department assisted hundreds of members with their travels abroad.”

Much of its work was done through the local parishes relying on local facilities as places of the woman to meet

So I rather think it may well prove a useful starting point for clues to our Institute and of course also offers up a fascinating story in itself.

Only hours after I posted yesterday’s story Nina told me how she had attended the Macclesfield GFS “every Monday and cost 1 penny.”

All of which means we may not discover much more about Miss Wright or the activities of the Institute in that house in St Clements but I rather think it has opened up new stories.

And that can’t be bad.

Pictures; GFS and Guides’ Stall from the 1928 St Clements’s Bazaar Hand Book courtesy of Ida Bradshaw,  and pictures of a garden party organised by the church, date unknown

*Girls Friendly Society, http://www.gfsplatform.org.uk/

**Searching for the Girls’ Friendly Society in that big house on St Clements Road in 1911, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/searching-for-girls-friendly-society-in.html

**Girls Friendly Society, Our History, http://www.gfsplatform.org.uk/our-history.php

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