Chapter 3

The Ladies, 1937-39

AT THIS POINT we must briefly look back two years, and in so doing remember a sphere of Round Table activity in which the membership of the Table had no immediate part.

Although the early ideas of Round Table took no account of femininity, it was perhaps inevitable that the ladies should make an impact on its work. Many a wife did much and endured much for the sake of Round Table, and this fact was early recognised by Round Table in the holding of Ladies’ Nights, Christmas Luncheons and Annual Dances. Any male organisation owes a debt to the wives, sisters and girl-friends of its members, particularly an organisation in which community service plays an important part.

Wives were roped in by husbands to help, individually or collectively, in one Table job or another; alternatively those with young families were holding the fort at home while their husbands were about Table business.

The first Ladies’ Circle, however, arose from a pre-conference situation. The 1932 Conference was to be held at Bournemouth, and nearly two years earlier the Bournemouth Table began to get ready for it. Here it was that the members’ ladies got together to raise funds to provide a gift for every visiting lady. The Conference came and went, but the Ladies’ Committee remained and eventually became Ladies’ Circle No. 1.

By 1935 there were another seven – Manchester, Hastings, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Wolverhampton, Doncaster and Southampton and so numbers remained until early in 1937. This was the year of the first Scarborough Conference. History repeated itself, the imminent conference bringing into being the Scarborough Ladies’ Circle, No. 10, on 3rd [18] March 1937. Sunderland Ladies’ Circle had come into being a week earlier, beating Scarborough for 9th place.

At this date there were 27 married and 9 unmarried members of the Scarborough Table. The inaugural meeting of the ladies, attended by 12 wives, elected its first officers:
Chairman: Mrs. H. D. Tesseyman
Vice-Chairman: Mrs. G. E. Pearson
Hon. Secretary: Mrs. F. Winn
Hon. Treasurer: Mrs. N. L. King
Committee: Mmes. Dalzell, Hanlon and Hopwood
The other founder members were Mmes. Evans, Forward, Jackson, Plows and Simcock.

Mrs. Tesseyman was elected to represent the Circle at the
A.G.M. of the National Association of Ladies’ Circles, which had been formed the previous year. The following year she was elected National Vice-President.

Active membership was limited to wives and sisters of members of Scarborough Round Table, nominations to be made by an existing member of the Ladies’ Circle. Power to elect honorary members was vested in the Committee, such members being ineligible for either voting or holding office.

At the date of the Circle’s first Annual General Meeting on 29th March 1938 membership had risen from 12 to 16. In the year a great deal of assistance had been given towards the Conference. Members acted as stewards, and Mrs. Tesseyman responded to the toast of ‘The Ladies and Guests’ at the Conference Banquet in a brilliant speech that is still remembered by many of those present.

The Circle assisted with the Hospital Collection at Pickering, this time as a Circle; its members had done the same thing the previous year as individuals. Small social functions were held to raise funds for Christmas donations to the Scarborough Clinic (at which volunteers were helping) and to the Langdale End Unemployment Centre. Monthly meetings were held throughout the year, with speakers on a wide variety of topics from beauty-culture to first-aid. ARP classes followed in the following year, the year of

At the second Annual General Meeting, held on the 14th March 1939, the Circle was having difficulty in carrying on. Several of the more active members had left the town, [19] replacement recruiting had not been forthcoming, National Service obligations, including those of husbands, were intensifying, and membership had dropped to nine. Nevertheless in that year several members had qualified for their silver A.R.P. badges and two had produced babies. Assistance had again been given to the Table’s Hospital Collection and occasional charitable efforts had been held.

The meeting resolved to suspend operations until the end of the summer, when a special meeting was to be called to discuss the future of the Circle.

For reasons with which we are familiar that special meeting was never called. [20]

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