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From Janet Pinnock (nee Bayes). Transcribed by Jacky Lawrence
Rushden Business & Professional Women's Club

l-r: Founder President Coun. Mrs. W.M. Lean, President of Northampton, Mrs. M.B.
McCracken, National Organising Secretary, Mrs. Audrey Taylor, President of Kettering, Miss A. Gilby, Vice-president Market Harborough, Mrs. K.M. Glasspool.

New Club Launched by Women - Evening Telegraph 3 February 1950. 

After the achievements and objects of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs had been expounded by speakers at the Westward Hotel on Thursday, a club was formed at Rushden with 21 women as founder members.
Miss Ashton-Jones of Brighton, a prominent member of the Federation was the principal speaker. She traced the growth of the clubs from 12 at the beginning of the war to the existing 230 with between 13,000 – 14,000 members.
She described the movement as an ‘Open Sesame’ to unexpected contacts and friendships.
Miss M. Milburn, headmistress of the Northampton School for Girls, spoke of the formation of the Federation, and Miss Mary Johnson of Northampton urged that the members should have confidence in themselves and not to be falsely modest in assessing their qualities.
Other speakers were Miss C. E. Nelson and Miss Gilbey, after which Mrs. W. D. White proposed and Mrs. A. J. Crowdy seconded that a club should be formed in Rushden.
Coun. Mrs. O. B. Lean was elected as founder president, Mrs. White as secretary and Miss C. Sanders as treasurer.
The committee will comprise Mrs. Crowdy, Miss V. Melville, Mrs. S. Davidson and Mrs. P. W. Wills.
Mrs. McCracken (president of the Northampton Club) presided at the meeting which was attended by over 30 members of the Northampton and Kettering Clubs.

New Group Has First Meeting - Evening Telegraph 25 February 1950

The first meeting of Rushden Business and Professional Women’s Club was held on Friday and Miss Mary Johnson of Northampton spoke on her holiday at Annecy in the French Alps. She gave many practical hints on travelling and accommodation.
Miss Johnson gave a description of the gaiety and charm of the French people. The food and cooking too were praised, though owing to the high prices, she said it was impossible to have meals in cafes. Annecy was surrounded by lime trees and winter and summer housewives washed their clothes in the canal, she revealed.
Mrs. P. W. Wills proposed a vote of thanks to the speaker. Four new members were enrolled. Mrs. O. B. Lean presided.

Evening Telegraph, June 28, 1950

l to r Mrs. W.M. Lean, Mrs. M.A. White, Mrs. C.E. Nelson,
Mrs. P.W. Wills, Miss C. Sanders, Mrs. J.E. Brown
Rushden Business and Professional Women's Club held a garden party at 'The White House' on behalf of the Lord Mayor of London's National Thanksgiving Fund on Tuesday Afternoon. It was the first major effort in the town for this appeal and the club's first public function.
Miss C.E. Nelson, matron of Northampton General Hospital and vice-chairman of the West Midland Division of the Federation, was the opener and congratulated the club for being the first in the Federation to organise an effort for the Lord Mayor's Appeal, particularly when they were themselves in a stage of development.
Mrs. F.E. Brown, thanking Miss Nelson for her visit conveyed the best wishes of her husband, chairman of Rushden Urban Council.
Coun. Mrs. W.M. Lean (president) thanked members and helpers. Mrs. M.A. White (secretary) expressed appreciation to Mr. and Mrs. Wills for the loan of their grounds.
Freda Martin and Peter White, daughter and son of club members, left their peddling of buttonholes to present flowers to Miss Nelson and Mrs. Brown and Mr. and Mrs. Wills.
Gifts, flowers and fruit could be bought, there were tables set out on the lawns for strawberries and ice-cream, and competitions for American nylons and a Canadian food parcel. A 'Guy' was pushed around in a bath-chair and, for the person making an accurate guess of the location of his 'pain', there was a celebrity's autographed photograph.
Girls from the North End School gave a display of country dancing, and in the evening, after prizes had been awarded to competition winners, there was an auction of goods by the club's secretary, Miss C. Sanders.

Talks during 1950 included :-

The Assets of Public Speaking

Chivalry is Non-existent

A Fanciful Flight to Portugal

Beauty Tips for Business Women

Facilities for Nurses Need

A Trip to Trinidad and The Leper Colony.

Frames Tours

The Nationalisation of Life Assurance

Work as a Probation Officer

In Support of Corporal Punishment

New Club Had Social - Evening Telegraph 8 April 1950

On Tuesday, for the first time since its inauguration, Rushden Business and Professional Women’s Club met for a social. A beetle drive and various other battles of wits made a change from the more serious pursuits of the club.
The evening and prizes were arranged by Mrs. H. Wills, Mrs. V. M. Crowdy and Miss M. Boys. Refreshments were served.
The president, Mrs. W. M. Lean, presented the prizes to Miss C. Putnam, Miss A. Sharwood, Miss D. E. Robinson, Mrs. M. Heathcote  and Mrs. P. Rixon. A vote of thanks to the organisers was proposed by Mrs. S. Davidson.
The Inaugural dinner for the club was held on 21st November 1950 at the Masonic Hall, Rushden.
Inaugural Dinner 21 Nov 1950
Picture on left - l to r - Miss Sanders (Treasurer), Mrs. White (Secretary), Councillor Mrs. Lean (President), Dr. Lean, Mrs. Wills (Vice-president), Miss Edmunds (Northampton President), Miss Nelson ( West Midlands Chairman), Mrs. Taylor (Organising Secretary H.O.). Picture on right - top table l to r- Miss Edmunds (Northampton President), Mayoress & Mayor of Higham Ferrers, Mrs. Taylor (H.Q.), Councillor Mrs. Lean (President), Dr. Lean, Miss Nelson (West Midlands Chairman), Councillor Brown & Mrs. Brown.

Women’s Club’s 1st Birthday – Evening Telegraph 31 January 1951

The cutting of a birthday cake with a single candle was a feature of Rushden Business and Professional Women’s club gathering at the ‘Westward Hotel’ on Tuesday. It was the first anniversary of the club’s formation and the event was celebrated with a birthday social.
President (Mrs. W. M. Lean) reviewed the past year’s activities and ‘highlights’ and said club membership now stood at 31. She introduced Mrs. D.A. McCracken (president of the Northampton club at the time it founded the Rushden club) and the ‘founder mother’ cut the cake – a gift from Mrs. M. A. White- wishing her ‘daughter club’ a very many happy returns.
Northampton and Kettering club members had joined the party and after refreshments there was a programme of musical games and competitions arranged by the social committee.

Evening Telegraph Wednesday, 21 February, 1951

Candles, representing branches of the movement in various countries, were lit on
Tuesday at the first international night of the Rushden Business and Professional
Women's Club. Left to right in the group are: Miss Putnam, Miss Sanders
(lighting a candle), Mrs. Wills, Miss Boys and Mrs. Lean.

Rushden Women’s Club – Evening Telegraph 7 March 1951

Mr George Cragg of Kettering formerly chief photographer of the ‘Evening Telegraph’ entertained members of the Rushden Business and Professional Women’s Club with humorous incidents from his own career and delighted them with personal impressions of the Royal Family – some of whom he has photographed at Boughton House – at the Westward Hotel, Rushden on Tuesday evening.
Afterwards Mr. Cragg relinquished his usual role of photographer – and his camera – to Miss A. L. Walker and Mrs. W. M. Lean (the president) who took photographs of the members with their speaker.
Miss M. Boys was in the chair and a vote of thanks to the speaker was proposed by Miss A. M. Sharwood.

Talks during 1951 included :-

Talk on Local Authors

An Expert Talks About Your Carpet

Dangers of Too Many Controls

Journey in Australia

‘Perm’ Once a Year is Enough

Women Are Urged to Take Rightful Place in Life

A Round-The-World Air Ticket

Women Over 40 and Work

She Drove in Bandit Area – Evening Telegraph 23 January 1952

Rome, Karachi, Singapore, Central Malaysia – these were only a few of the places mentioned by Miss A. L. Walker of Higham Ferrers in her talk on Tuesday to fellow members of Rushden Business snd Professional Women’s Club. Miss Walker was speaking of her round-the-world trip last summer.
Her first call was a  New York where she met members of the B and P Club.
From there she went to San Francisco. ‘Wonderful’ was her verdict, especially the Golden Gate Bridge, largest in the world.
From there she flew to Australia ‘touching down’ at various places en route. In Sydney it was winter with, said Miss Walker, more rain than in England. She found a shortage of fuel, milk and butter.
On the return flight she stayed at a small village in ‘wonderfully colourful’ central Malaya. It was in the bandit area but no-one seemed to take much notice of it except that all the men were armed. She drove 80 miles to Penang but saw no ‘incidents’.
Miss Walker brought back many beautiful momentoes of her trip. Miss H. Gromme thanked the speaker and Mrs. W. M. Lean was in the chair.

Visitors in National Costume – Northants Evening Telegraph Wednesday, 7 February 1952

Korean and Lithuanian women, in national costume, and visitors from Greece and Holland attended the Rushden Business and Professional Women’s Club International Night dinner at the Waverley Hotel on Tuesday.
Northampton and Wellingborough B and P Clubs were also represented as were other women’s organisations in Rushden.
The dinner was followed by the traditional candle-lighting ceremony in a darkened room, by vice-presidents Mrs. P. W. Wills and Mrs. P. Rixon.
Chief speaker of the evening was Dr. Whang Koh, of South Korea, who has been in England for 18 months and was paying her second visit to Rushden.
She traced Korea’s history and cultural growth, Mrs. K. Klegeris giving a similar talk for Lithuania.
Mrs. D. Sargent represented Greece and Miss C. Leyton, Holland. The speakers were thanked by Mrs. S. P. Davidson.
l to r - Miss C. Leyton (Holland), Dr. Whang Koh (S. Korea),
Mrs. K. Klegris (Lithuania), Mrs. D. Sergeant (Greece),
Mrs. W.L. Lean, Mrs. Rixon.

Law Unfair to Us Say Women – Evening Telegraph Wednesday, 8 October 1952

‘By law the money a wife saves out of her housekeeping allowance is her husband’s property. Northampton Club believes she should be entitled to fifty per cent,’ said Miss M. McDermott at the Rushden Business and Professional Women’s Club on Tuesday.
Miss McDermott spoke on the status of married women under the present laws of the country and on the burning question of ownership of savings, and said the point Northampton had submitted to the Federation was that. ‘Among other things she may have deprived herself of certain necessities in an endeavour to put aside for contingencies not budgeted for.’
It was an interesting point to discuss, she went on, because they knew that some wives would stint their families in order to save as much as they could and get their percentage.
‘But I think the majority of women would stint themselves first to save,’ she added.
The President (Mrs. H. Wills) was in the chair and Mrs. P. Keller proposed the vote of thanks.

Talks for 1952 included :-

Is TV Harmful?

Town’s Reading Habits 

Culture Used as a Refuge

County’s Famous Poet

Standard of Youth is High

Sex Equality and the B. And P. Clubs

Women Want Education for Marriage – Evening Telegraph, Wednesday, 7 October 1953

Rushden Business and Professional Women’s Club members spent Tuesday evening in debate and by six votes carried a motion. ‘That this house considers there is a lack of education for marriage.’
Points raised by the proposers were that, since marriage is such an important part of any state, as much training should be given for it as for any partnership in the business world; that it should be taken much more seriously with more thought and at not too early an age: that more co-educational schools would be an advantage and that the physical and mental life should be given a more prominent part in the normal curriculum.
The opposition felt that present education for marriage was sufficient; that since marriage was a private contract between two people, only self education was needed, and that a good family life was the best preparation for marriage.

Talks for 1953 included :-

Rushden is a Healthy Town Says M.O.H.

First Week on Night Patrol

Don’t Despise New Building

Immoral Women: A Great Problem

Wanted: Women to Govern

Women’s Club Had Fourth Birthday Cake – Evening Telegraph, Wednesday, 3 February, 1954

Rushden Business and Professional Women’s Club celebrated their fourth birthday at the Westward Hotel on Tuesday. The president, Miss Nora Walker, had the honour of cutting the birthday cake and proposing the toast to the club. Then members listened to Mrs. E. M. Ash telling of her trip to Switzerland last May.

Ex-RAF Man Tells of Escape from Germans – Evening Telegraph, Wednesday, 7 April, 1954

Mr. A. Reynolds of Rushden spoke to Rushden Business and Professional Women’s Club on Tuesday night about the R.A.F. Escape Society.
All the members of this society are escaped prisoners of war or ‘evaders’ – men who had to bail out over enemy country.
Speaking of his own escape, Mr. Reynolds told of the help given him by the people in Belgium, France and Spain.
Many of these people are now in need of help themselves , and the society provided education, emigration and holiday facilities for orphan children or those in poor circumstances.
‘We want them to know we have not forgotten their kindness and help,’ said Mr. Reynolds. ‘And to promote better understanding between our two countries.’
A cheque from the club was sent to the society and Mrs. Trafford thanked the speaker.
The president Miss Nora Walker, was in the chair.
Mrs. Gerrard thanked the speaker.

Evening Telegraph, Wednesday 17 November, 1954

Miss Nora Walker (centre) President of the Rushen
Business and Professional Women's Club receiving
the Mayoress of Higham Ferrers (Mrs. R.A. Marriott)
at the club's annual dinner on Tuesday. Also in the group
is Miss C. Sanders, vice-president.

Talks for 1954 included :-

How Business Women can Help U. N.

Why Housewives Should Have More Money – by TV Editor

Peacetime Work of the Red Cross

Fascinating Women Might be Witches – Evening Telegraph, Wednesday, 2 February, 1955

Though witches were most prevalent in the reign of Elizabeth I they still exist today even in Northamptonshire.
Mr. Patrick Bowls of Pitsford told Rushden Business and Professional Women’s Club last night.
But they are not very successful ones, he added hastily. Many village customs are based on witchcraft and a great many present-day drugs were used in different forms by witches of old.
Speaking to an audience of women, Mr. Bowls said he hardly liked to tell them that a word they liked – ‘fascinate’ – meant ‘to charm with the evil eye.’
Mrs. W. A. White thanked the speaker. The vice-president, Mrs. V. M. Crowdy, was in the chair.

Now Rushden Club Sees Round Dancing – Rushden Echo & Argus, Friday, 18 February, 1955

Old time Western round dancing was demonstrated as part of the International Night celebrations at Rushden Business and Professional Women’s Club on Tuesday. The dancers were two East Texan visitors from Molesworth Air Base, Sgt. And Mrs. James O. Brown.
After a ceremony, during which candles were lit for each of the twenty countries belonging to the association, and for each of the branches in the West Midland Division, the 112 present sat down to refreshments.
Guest speaker was Mr. John Burbank, of Oxford., who told members of the activities of U.N.E.S.C.O. He had himself been a member of the U.N.E.S.C.O. educational mission to Thailand and described teaching methods used among the Siamese.
Miss Nora Walker, president, was in the chair, and Mr. Burbank was thanked by Miss M. Sanders.
Sergeant & Mrs. James O. Brown from Molesworth Air Base
demonstrating the Texas dance 'Laces & Graces'.

Women’s Club Social Evening – Evening Telegraph, Wednesday 30 March, 1955

A social evening for Rushden Business and Professional Women’s Club raised £3 15s for the local Senior Citizens. It was an informal evening of games, gossip and supper for some twenty members, at the home of Mrs. F. R. Putnam, ‘Hayways,’ Kimbolton Road, Rushden.

Talks for 1955 included :-

Plaice Skin Substitute for Leather

Dr. Barnardo’s Started in a Gin Palace

Winning War on Tuberculosis

Four Things Old Folk Dread

Talks for 1956 included :-

Behind the Iron Curtain

Holiday in Persia Described

Nuclear Age Needs Friendship

Life at a Bird Sanctuary

Talks for 1957 included :-

Rules for a Happier Life

Accidents Don’t Just Happen

Almoner Tells of her Work

Talks for 1958 included :-

Approach to Teddy Boys

This is the Age of Opportunity for Modern Women

Sandals Cost £12 a Pair in Russia

Gay Fashion Peep - Rushden Echo & Argus, Friday, 14 March 1958

l-r: Jean Wills, Sandra Middleton, Rosemary Putnam & Mimi Southam
Rushden Business and Professional Women's Club's fashion show drew 170 women to the P. W. Wills salons last Thursday.
Scores of ensembles were provided from the Wills' range and described by Mrs. Helen Wills as club and staff members modelled them.
Beachwear and underwear were included in a gay parade, emphasising the wide choice of styles and materials now available at a modest price.
Coffee was served. Mrs. Fisher, president of the club, welcomed the company and said that proceeds of the show would go to the B. and P. charity fund. A vote of thanks was moved by Mrs. Doreen Brown.
Taking part in the parade were Betty Brown, Constance Peck, Betty Putnam, Nora Walker, Anne White (members of the club), Audrey Cave, Patricia Daniels Sybil Laflin, Sandra Middleton, Rosemary Putnam, Mimi Southam and Jean Wills.

Japanese tea party for B and P club - Evening Telegrah, Wednesday, 26 February 1964

Members of the international group of the Rushden Business and Professional Women's Club attended a Japanese tea party at the home of their president, Mrs. C. Clark, yesterday.
The art of giving a tea party in Japan was demonstrated by Mrs. Nobu Sarrill, the wife of a captain in the United States Army.
Mrs. Sarrill, who was wearing a silk kimono hand painted by herself with 26 different Japanese flowers, also spoke of the customs of the women of Japan and illustrated her talk with paintings and music.
Mr. David Austin, Mrs. C. Clark & Mrs. Nobu Sarrill at the
club's international night candle lighting ceremony
at the Queen Victoria Hotel, Rushden
Talks for 1959 included:-

Work for Lepers

Snowdonia in Colour

Talks for 1960 included:-

Help for Deaf Children

Art of Floral Decoration

Bachelor-girl flats: how they started

Talks for 1961 included:-

When Jersey was Occupied by Germany

Discussion on Training of Older Women

Common Market - as important as the

Russian Revolution

Talks for 1967 included:-

Employment Exchange - how it works

Homes Scheme described

27th Annual Conference Brighton 1965.
l to r: President of Wellingborough, Mrs. Watson, President of Rushden, Mrs. I.Smith, Mrs. Davidson, Mrs. Clark, Wellingborough, Miss Thomas, Mrs. Capell
1979, New President, Mrs. Mabel Leach
1977, Telegram from Buckingham Palace
Talks for 1968 included:-

Divorce Law Explained

Problem of Drug Taking

Talks for 1971 included:-

People & places

Communicate and Live Amicably

Talks for 1972 included:-

Origins of Furniture

Keeping an Eye on The Bacon

Talks for 1976 included:-

Tales of Tasmania

Marriage Guidance

Talks for 1981 included:-

Look at Life in Bygone Days

Life in Australia

1983, New President, Mrs. Janet Pinnock presented by outgoing
President, Mrs. Kay Clark

Talks for 1986 included:-

The Royal Theatre Northampton

Understanding & Improving Personal Relationships

Talks for 1988 included:-


The Diamond Industry

1984, Victorian Christmas Dinner
1984, Victorian Christmas Dinner


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