Branch celebrates milestone
Past and present members turn out as Biggenden QCWA branch marks 90th anniversary
DURING the past 90 years the Biggenden QCWA branch and its rest rooms have been an important part of the community.
Established on June 10, 1926 by QCWA founder Ruth Fairfax, the branch recently celebrated its 90th birthday with a lunch that was attended by past and present members and Burnett Division branch members.
The branch held its first meeting on July 9, 1926 with a Mrs Osborne as president.
The rest rooms were built on land leased from the railway and were opened by the then shire chairman, N Minchenton. At the time it was the only building on the street.
The first meeting in the new rooms was held on September 6, 1928. Foundation member Mrs Britnell was the president and remained so until her death in 1941.
Upgrades included installation of electricity in 1940 and sewerage in 1970.
The Department of Maternal and Child-Welfare used the rooms from March 22, 1937 and moved into a special room when the building was extended in 1959 thanks to a Queensland Centenary Year project. That special room was upgraded in recent years to include a toilet and storage cupboards.
During the war years from 1939-45, a Comforts Fund was formed and members made camouflage nets and collected salvage for the war effort. Food parcels regularly went to Britain and later war brides were welcome to the district.
Jean Tincknell came to Biggenden in 1943 and joined the Younger Set which had formed a year earlier. She said her supervisor at the time was Bobby Archer.
“We learnt to make holdalls, knit balaclavas and socks for the soldiers,” Mrs Tincknell said.
“The socks had to have no joins, knots or mistakes. If they did, they would hurt the soldier’s feet when marching.
“We also made Anzac biscuits which had to be extremely hard so as to stand up to the temperatures in New Guinea or the Middle East.
“They had a pretty tough journey getting to the soldier’s destination.”
Fruit cakes were also made and wrapped in a calico material which secured the contents well.
Mrs Tincknell was to later take over the role as supervisor but sadly the Younger Set discontinued in July 1972.
Mrs Tincknell said the Younger Set was very helpful to the parent branch financially.
“They held well-attended garden parties every year,” she said.
“There were beach umbrellas along with tables and chairs on the nice green lawn at the front of the building.
“Prizes were given for the best dressed in a variety of sections.
“Everyone always enjoyed the mannequin parade, competitions and afternoon tea.”
Mrs Tincknell said when a Younger Set member married they were given a kitchen tea party and presented with a CWA cookery book.
“The CWA cookery book was first printed in 1928 and many editions have been printed since,” she said.
Mrs Tincknell became a CWA member shortly after her marriage in 1947.
“During those years, members was called on often to cater for clearing sales, provide supper for a dance or ball or to help anyone in distress,” she said.
“Like the present branch we also had specials days of competition, cooking, knitting and sewing.”
Mrs Tincknell said the CWA had a successful choir which was very popular.
“I remember Sue Giles, Ruth Brown and Lesley Itzstein singing together,” she said.
A couple of years ago there was the possibility of the doors closing due to lack of members but as the building still plays an important role in the community, the call for new members was answered and a new committee formed under president Julia Young.
The QCWA vision is for the women of Queensland to come together to support communities while celebrating their interests and forging friendships in a respectful and caring environment.
Their mission is to advocate and provide opportunities for women centring on education, health, community, imparting knowledge and providing support throughout every phase of a woman’s life.
Today the Biggenden QCWA members meet on the first Thursday of the month and craft classes are held every Wednesday in their rooms.
CUT ABOVE: Biggenden QCWA branch president Julia Young with former member Jean Tincknell at the 90th birthday celebrations of the branch.