Strachur and District SWRI had its first meeting in 1934 but during World War Two no meetings could take place and this situation lasted for 6 years. SWRI in Strachur began again in 1946

A toast to Strachur W.R.I. written by Chrissie Gillies

The present Institute started with a meeting in Strachur School in August 1946.  Thereafter, the Monthly Meetings were held in Strachur Memorial Hall and St Catherine’s Hall on the 3rd Wednesday of alternate months from September until May.  Very few people owned cars in those days and members were transported by Montgomery’s buses from Glenbranter, Strathlachlan, St Catherine’s to Strachur.  One person in each district was responsible for finding out the numbers going on each bus;  a flat rate of 1/6d return was charged, no matter the distance travelled. Of course, we had to have a Transport Fund to cover the cost of the buses; this was well supported by Concerts, Whist Drives and Raffles.

Drama was greatly in favour in those days and it was great fun rehearsing plays etc. in each other’s houses.  Mrs Ferguson, The Bay, loved to take part and in one scene she actually smoked a clay pipe on stage!

SWI1-004 High Jinks on the Stage

We held a Burns’ Supper annually for many years and these were very well attended by the Community. 

The Annual Outing each year at the beginning of June saw two bus loads of W.R.I. members setting sail for a Venue where they could see the countryside and do some shopping.  One year we visited the Border Abbeys.  We had morning tea at Balloch, lunch in Edinburgh and High Tea at Dumfries.  The bus drivers from Baird’s, Dunoon, were furious and said we were all mad.  It was 1.30 am when we got back to Strachur.

In 1952, Electricity came to Strachur.  Television arriving a few years later.

In 1953 at the Queen’s Coronation, a flowering Cherry Tree was planted outside the Hall by Miss Grace McCallum, Craiganiver, a local lady who did a lot of good in the Community.  It is no longer there having been broken by vandals!  At the Queen’s Jubilee another flowering Cherry Tree was planted by Mrs Scott, The Bay, which I am glad to say is doing well.

SWRI1 001 1977

Planting the tree for the Queen’s Jubilee

Peggy Ferguson, Mrs Fergusson, Bunty Hendry (nee Scott), and Nan Scott (nee McNicol). In 1953 The Rural arranged for the Coronation Tree to be planted outside the Hall by Miss McCallum

That year, Strachur Primary School held a Children’s Pageant and Parade in the Shinty Field and the W.R.I. had a decorated Float loaned from Messrs. McNab & Weir, some of our members adorning it wearing Old Tyme costumes.


Dressed up in ‘Old Tyme’ clothes

Mrs Gillies, Mrs Creasey, Betty Horton, Mrs Murry, Mrs Banks, and Mrs Henderson
SWRI1 007

In 1967, to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of W.R.I., Miss Sue Manton and I [Chrissie Gillies] represented Strachur in Edinburgh.  H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, attended a meeting in The Usher Hall and we were guests at a Reception at Ingliston when we met Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip.


SWRI Golden Jubilee in 1967 Edinburgh

Miss Manton meets the Queen

One of our Presidents was Miss Mary Manton, sister of Sue and Vi Manton.  She introduced the Star system of awarding points at Federation and Group Competitions at SW.R.I. instead of the usual 1st, 2nd and 3rd Prizes.   In 1964 she formed a Flower Show Committee.  This was the start of the Strachur & District Flower Show which has gone from strength to strength every year since.

Strachur Rural was always good at winning Competitions.  The Argyll Federation Shield has our name inscribed on it several times, as has also the Sanderson Cup, Cowal Group.  The coveted Poltalloch Trophy was also won by Strachur.


Back Row

Jean Stanton, Marion MacKellar, Nancy McLean, Margaret McNair, Sue Manton, Mrs Morton, Cathie Fraser

3 Ladies at the front       Molly Silk, Betty McHugh, Vi Manton

I look back with affection remembering several of our late members:

         Mrs Keith Campbell – our first President, mother of Douglas Campbell, Lochgoilhead. 

          Miss Isa Brown, our “Glamour Girl”, always game for a laugh.  She was a retired stewardess, loved to wear big hats and very bright coloured, mainly Red.  She swore that no colour ever clashed!  One evening, she brought an apple tart for the monthly competition and when she went to collect it, Donald Clark, the Hallkeeper’s cat, had eaten a piece out of it.

          Bella Douglas, Newton, who was a joy to know.  She wrote a History of Strachur for a W.R.I. Competition.  It is now out of print!

          My very good friend, Isabel Crawford, Balliemore. 

          Miss Smith and Miss Stewart, Domestic Science Teachers, who came to live in Strachur and were such a help with competitions.

          Mrs Rita Harrison, a very talented lady.  She was Organising Secretary for Argyll Federation for several years.  She entertained us with monologues written by herself.

          Mrs Rita Murray, Rosehill, twice President, who after going to live in Dunoon still remained a member of Strachur W.R.I.

A year last April we were all very saddened by the death of Miss Sue Manton, M.B.E.  She was a very faithful member of S.W.R.I. being a past Chairman of Argyll Federation and several times our President.  She was a staunch supporter of Group and Federation competitions – nothing was too difficult for her to attempt, although she drew the line at Cooking and Baking!

It is interesting to note that 3 of our Members have been invested with honours. The British Empire Medal (B.E.M.) was presented to  Mrs Mary Beaton retired Chairman of Strachur Community Council and Captain of Strachur 1st Company of The Girls Brigade, formerly Girls Guildry for 28 years and Mrs Annette Clark, M.B.E. was rewarded for her work with Greenock W.V.S. and Miss Sue Manton, M.B.E. for her great work in collecting for Erskine and The War Blinded and Member of the British Legion.

I look back with much happiness on the years I have spent with members of Strachur Rural, so, Ladies, I would like you to be upstanding and drink a Toast to “Our Rural” for many more happy years to come.

[Written by Chrissie Gillies 1994]

SWRI1-006 A Heavenly Choir


This recipe book was produced in 1994 by the Strachur SWRI and contains many recipes people may remember from their childhood. It’s tempting to try some – most of the dishes are made from ingredients readily available.

Another interesting publication from SWRI. Have a look at the account of a trip to Bellahouston Park to visit the Empire Exhibition. The difficult journey home via ‘The Rest’ is particularly worth a read! (Pages 3 – 5)

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