Dyke WI

The strength of a village is reflected in its institutions of which the strongest in Dyke is the Womens Institute or WI. Formed on the 8th Dec 1960 there were just 36 founding members who have been influential in shaping the village into what we have today.

In the beginning

The strength of a village is reflected in its institutions of which the strongest in Dyke is the Womens Institute or WI.


The strength of a village is reflected in its institutions of which the strongest in Dyke is the Womens Institute or WI.

Formed on the 8th Dec 1960 by Mrs K. Darby V.C.O. of Sleaford when there were just 36 founding members. From the beginning Dyke WI has been and are instrumental in organising and running a wide variety of events. This is a process that has continued over the years with numbers growing, there were 56 members by 1965. Meetings took place on the third Thursday in every month in what was Dyke Mission Hall. Talks at the monthly meetings included wine making, flower arrangement, photography, local history and cookery. The programme for 1965 is reproduced below:

January – Talk on the Care of Carpets and Floor Coverings. Cushion cover competition.
February – Talk about the Ministry of Pensions. Decorated potato competition.
March – Annual Meeting – Talk by VCO. Prettiest teaplate competition.
April – Talk on Home Nursing. Easter floral arrangement competition.
May – Demonstration of cooking with gas. Cheese straws competition.
June – Talk by representative from Copydex.
July – Evening outing.
August – Talk on the Women’s Voluntary Service. Prettiest handkerchief competition.
September – Members night.
October – All our own. Home made wastepaper container.
November – Demonstration by the Wool Lecture Service. Neatest piece of darning competition.
December – Golden Jubilee Diner.

It is interesting to note the emphasis on practicality in most of the talks. The war years were still an influence but there was a growing emphasis on trying new things. It was after all, “the swinging sixties!”

The ladies of the WI assisted in collections of silver paper and foil in aid of guide dogs for the blind. Collectively they also made representation for repair to footpaths and hughway, improvements to the village green, street lighting and electricity supplies. A partition was organised against the proposed closure of small hospitals the local one in particular. How much better it may have been today if note had been taken of the public’s concern for development and maintainence of local services and facilities.

The WI Scarebook of 1965

Early in 1965 five members gathered around a table and asked “How do we plan a portrait of our village and show a year in its life?” The members were Mrs J.S.Wheatley, Mrs E.J.Ash, Sheila Robson, Mrs J.S.Phillipson, Mrs M.Ash and Mrs B.G.Laxton who were elected as the Scrapbook Committee. The result was a scrapbook as their entry in a country wide competition run as part of the WI golden jubilee celebrations. The result was third place in the 43 entries from the Kesteven area. To the delight of Dyke WI members judges in the London final exhibition made their entry the Lincolnshire county winner.

“At first we thought we’d never find enough material in Dyke, a community of only 84 houses” said Mrs Jane Wheatley at the time. “We haven’t a village church, thus no historic records. There is no parish council and so no available parish records.” Their approach was to visit and talk to as many villagers as possible and from the response build a picture of Dyke life as it was in 1965. Mrs Margaret Ash had completed five years as WI President and was a member of one of the oldest farming families in the area. She had joined with her sister-in-law, Mrs Joyce Ash, to visit every farm in the area. The result was to produce a coloured map showing the cropping programme and data on yield and storage of crops with average market prices. Included in the folder was a colour picture of “Bounce” the last working horse in Dyke. There was an interesting section on retail outlets by Mrs Wheatley who wrote: “With only one shop in the village, Dyke relies on travelling salesmen. They seem to do pretty well with five mobile grocery vans, three butchers delivery and six coal merchants to choose from as well as weekly visits from a fishmonger, greengrocer and iron monger.

The information gathered indicated the social transition taking place in the village. The drift from the land and hence from the village continued until larger companies started to transport people to and from work. This encouraged house building and along with cheaper agricultural land resulted in attracting young families into the rural area. In 1965 the population of Dyke was 249 with 167 adults compared to 135 in 1961. There were only 28 pensioners with the oldest being 89 year old Mr George Wright. Mr Jane Wheatley expressed apprehension about the future: “The only fear is that we might develop into a dormitory for the population of an expanding Peterborough making Dyke a satellite of Bourne.” How prophetic those words have become.

Commemorating The National WI Golden Jubilee

The WI conjures up images of cakes and tea along with organising shows that exhibit the results of labours in garden, kitchen and workshop. Despite poor growing weather that year, exhibits in the annual Flower, Produce and Cookery Show organised by the Dyke WI in the Mission Hall reached a good standard.

The WI Flower, Produce and Cookery Show, 1971

The WI conjures up images of cakes and tea along with organising shows that exhibit the results of labours in garden, kitchen and workshop. Despite poor growing weather that year, exhibits in the annual Flower, Produce and Cookery Show organised by the Dyke WI in the Mission Hall reached a good standard.

Mrs W.R.Cooper went one better than the previous year when she tied for the Cookery and Preserves Cup with Mrs E.Needham. In the 1971 show Mrs Cooper won outright with 60 points and was presented with the cup by WI President Mrs P.Broxholme as seen in the photo above. The Vegetable and Flower section was won by Mrs E Cooper with 29 points. Entries for the show were plentiful and judges taking into account the poor summer weather, described the exhibits as being of a high standard.

Dyke WI Celebrates its 11th Birthday

The year of 1971 was the year when the Dyke WI celebrated its 11th birthday. Mrs V.M.Clarke, vice-chairman of the Kesteven Federation of Women’s Institutes was guest speaker at the celebratory diner for 80 guests held at the Darby and Joan Hall, Bourne. Dyke, she said, sponsored resolutions through WI council meetings against closing one-teacher schools and for the immunising of country people against tetanus. Mrs P.Broxholme, president, said that the Institute (Dyke) was entering its second decade and they owed a lot to those founder members, former officers and committee members for the sound foundation on which they had been able to build.

Dyke declared the ideal WI in 1973

Dyke was the ideal type of Women’s Institute, Mrs M.Marchment, chairman of Kesteven Federation of WI’s told members in 1973.

She was speaking as the principal guest, with her husband Dr Marchment, at Dyke members birthday diner and social evening held at Bourne Darby and Joan Hall. “Dyke is very well known in the Federation because they have always done well,” Mrs Marchment said. “You were always go-ahead and you are much more than a Women’s Institute.” “WI’s have always taken interest in matters of public concern and you have identified yourselves with the vexed question of closure of your village school, and with the general welfare of the village. I wish all WI’s had the same emphasis.”

The 17th January 1976 saw Dyke WI organised their 15th anniversary dinner in the Darby and Joan Hall, Bourne. After diner speaker Mrs Norma Webb from Dowsby Fen praised the work that had been carried out by members saying “One of the greatest achievements of Dyke WI was the hard work you had put in to retain your village school. I am a teacher and I do not believe in comprehensive schools, nor in trailing small children miles and miles to get to school.” She went on to praise the Dyke WI ladies dart team for winning that years competition pointing to the trophy which was proudly displayed for all to see at the diner. Dyke president, Mrs Margaret Ash gave the reply and then a toast was proposed by Mrs Ruth Ward.

Double Tops for Dyke WI Ladies Dart Team

In April 1976 Dyke WI ladies were declared “double tops” with their win for the second year running in the Kesteven WI darts competition. Originally, 48 teams entered the competition with the winning Dyke WI team consisting of Mrs Ward, Mrs Broxholme and Mrs Clarke.

The Queens Jubilee Celebrations

On 7th June 1977 Dyke celebrated the Queens Jubilee with a full day of events. The village celebrations started with a carnival procession which commenced from Stubbs Close and wound its way along Main Road towards the Mission Hall (now the Village Hall) and the sports field. The assembly were in various categories including fancy dress, decorated prams, decorated cycles and floats. Mrs Stubbs and Colin Astley were reported as winning the decorated pram and cycle competitions. A full programme of sporting events took place during the afternoon on the sports field and a number of side shows were present. An afternoon Jubilee Tea was prepared in the Mission Hall and two sittings enables all villagers to enjoy it. Mr W.W.Mills, Dyke postmaster between 1920-1939, was guest of honour. Later in the evening a barbecue and dance was held in Mr Andrew’s barn which went on until the early hours.

The WI Celebrate 100 Years

The WI was established in 1915 as a means of ensuring women were able to play an active and effective part in their communities, to improve the quality of life for all and to influence local, national and international affairs on matters relating to its members. WI members from all over the country are celebrating the landmark achievement of 100 years of inspiring women and as would be expected, Dyke WI played its part in the celebrations.

In researching the information on this page reference was made to the following:
The scrapbook put together by Mrs E Needham and celebrating life and events in Dyke through the years.
Speaking to members of the community including Mrs Margaret Ash, Mrs Gywen Leverton
Dyke WI Village Scrapbook 1965
Conversation with Mrs Margaret Ash

More About:

Dyke WI

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Dyke Baptist Chapel

Dyke Village Green

Dyke Village Hall

Dyke Engine House

The Railway in Dyke

The Wishing Well Inn

The Car Dyke

Dyke Village Life

Contact Dyke Village Hall

Main Road, Dyke, Bourne, PE10 0AF
Email: contact@dykevillagehall.org.uk