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In preparation for the NFWI centenary in 2015, each WI was asked to produce a report with memories and events over the years. This is our report compiled from early minute books and personal recollections.A meeting was held in the Co-operative Room in Willington on February 7th 1946 after which Willington WI was formed with 21 members enrolling at the first meeting. Over the year, membership rose to 63. One of the early meetings was a talk on the history of the village from before the birth of Christ. Excavations in the 1930s, 1970s and 2000 have unearthed evidence of the largest assemblage of pre-historic remains in the Midlands, from Neolithic barrow and field systems to Iron Age swords and chains. It has been transport that has caused the village to develop and grow from farmsteads supporting travellers on the nearby Roman Road, Rykneld Street, (now the A38 route) to it being a major inland port when Willington was the highest navigable point on the River Trent. The opening of the Trent and Mersey canal (1777) prompted the village centre to move, and later the railway station (1839) increased the importance of the village as a transport hub. Just down the road in 1938 Derby airport was opened at Burnaston. More recently (1997) came the A50 so Willington is a village well used to adapting to change. In 1946, the original WI obviously recognised the importance of the history surrounding them and it is worthy of note that this interest continues, as since 2010, members of the present WI lead guided walks around the village explaining its history from the time of the Beaker people to the current day.Records show that the WI has been involved in village activities throughout, with stalls at the Village Carnival, litter picks, tree planting, fund raising for the Village Hall (one of very few actually owned by the people of the Village). Present member and one-time President, Barbara Pallet, recalls a bench being presented to “Commander Mack and other Parish Councillors. This was sited on the Brook Bridge in the centre of the village. Im afraid it was vandalised!” Minutes record this was to celebrate the NFWI Golden Jubilee in 1965. By 1969 it was in such a poor state, a letter was sent to the Parish Council asking for their advice. It was to be repaired and re-sited.
Our 'oral history' project