Wootton Bridge W.I. was officially inaugurated on the same day as Ningwood and Shalfleet. The first President was Mrs Scott, and the meetings were held at her home, Bridge House. No records are available until 1922 when Mrs Dennis was President, and an Army Surplus hut was purchased for £10, and erected on land leased from the Fleming Estates for a peppercorn rent. At the time, just after the First World War, Wootton Bridge was a very small village with a flour mill on the Creek, and many goods were brought up the Creek by boat. There was no lighting in the High Street and no footpath, and householders disposed of the refuse themselves. The Institute was very active in the village, demanding better facilities, such as street lighting, improved sanitation and refuse collections. They also supported local charities such as children’s homes and hospitals. In 1925 members over 21 were being trained as District Nurses, and in 1929 resolutions condemning cruelty to animals, and the need for good town planning, were recorded.
Wartime saw the W.I very much involved in the war effort, with the Red Cross detachment: a canteen for locally stationed troops, the reception of evacuees, making mattresses with wood shavings and camouflage nets for the camp at Whippingham, as well as making shirts for bombed-out civilians. Members grew vegetables and fruit, and the Hall was used as a preservation depot until 1948. There was collaboration between the WVS and the Institutes in all this effort, and classes were also held in shooting instruction.
By the end of the war membership was over 100, but the war brought great social change. Many women were now working and could not attend afternoon meetings. In 1967 younger members formed Creekside W.I as an evening Institute.
There have been many changes over the years. The village has grown and the central role of the W.I in the village has gone. Meetings no longer take place in the hut, in fact the hut is no longer, but Wootton Bridge W.I, and Creekside, are still very active in the community.
The Creekside WI website is hosted on this website Creekside WI.
Source: The History of Wootton Bridge 1919-1994