Carrycots just the job for meals on wheels

Oxford Mail: A new use for an old carrycot – Mrs EE Bint and Mrs K Martyr delivering meals on wheels in Oxford in 1955 A new use for an old carrycot – Mrs EE Bint and Mrs K Martyr delivering meals on wheels in Oxford in 1955

IT WASN’T so much meals on wheels, rather meals in carrycots.

Members of the Women’s Voluntary Service issued an urgent appeal for the baby-carrying contraptions which were popular in the 1950s and 1960s.

The last thing on their minds, however, was to start a baby transport service.

Carrycots, they realised, had other uses – they were light in weight, strong enough to support a fair load and just the right size to fit on the seat or in the boot of a car.

In fact, they met all the demands of the volunteers who delivered meals on wheels to old and needy people across Oxford.

The appeal was made in 1955 when a two-course hot dinner cost the recipients nine old pence (4p today).

At that time, meals were provided every Tuesday and Thursday from one of the city’s municipal restaurants.

WVS helpers picked up the meals in individual cans and set off on their delivery rounds.

The problem was how to carry the cans.

Some volunteers had found old boxes with handles, but reckoned the best carrier was the old carrycot.

The Oxford Mail reported at the time: “However battered, it can be patched up for this job and if the appeal could bring in half a dozen, they will receive a hearty welcome.”

As we recalled (Memory Lane, February 21), the WVS was launched in 1938 and played a major role evacuating, feeding, clothing and supporting troops and civilians during the Second World War.

After the war, it concentrated its services on isolated and lonely people, particularly the elderly, with the meals on wheels service becoming increasingly popular.

The WVS became the WRVS in 1966 when the Queen gave permission for ‘Royal’ to be added to its title.

In 2004, the name was changed to the initials, WRVS, to modernise its image and to reflect the fact that 11 per cent of its 60,000 members were men.

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