WPC

The first meeting of the Women’s Provisional Club (1924-1984) took place at the Samson Clark Building, Mortimer Street, London, on 8 Feb 1924. Many of the founding members were business and professional women. Mrs Ethel Wood CBE (d 1970), was the Director of Samson Clark Co. from 1921-1928 and then Director and Chair of Super Garages Ltd. Margaret Haig Thomas, Viscountess Rhondda (1883-1958), was the owner-editor of the political magazine Time and Tide. Mrs Helen Archdale (1876-1949) was a journalist and militant suffragette. Dr Winifred Cullis (1875-1956) became Professor Emeritus of Physiology at the Royal Free Hospital, University of London from 1903.

Although, individually, these women wanted to achieve equal status with their professional male counterparts, the WPC was not overtly a political group. The objectives of the Club were to:

a) encourage and foster high ethical standards in business and professions.

b) encourage and foster the ‘ideal of service’ as the basis for enterprise.

c) quicken an interest in public welfare and to co-operate with others in civic, social and industrial developments.

Any business or professional women of British nationality could be members. The Club arranged fortnightly meetings, with a speaker, at various restaurants in London. These were initially luncheon gatherings and then became dinner functions. An Annual General Meeting was held in the early spring. The Executive Committee met at least four or five times a year. Summer outings and Christmas parties were also arranged. Dora joined in about 1932 and it was an important part of her social and business life from the 1930s to the 1950s. Owing to Covid restrictions the author has so far been unable to access the WPC archive. This section will be updated when more information is available.

The Constitution was heavily based on the by-laws of the Rotary International, a civilian service club founded in 1905. The original plan was that the WPC would amalgamate with the Rotary International and so the reason for the word ‘Provisional’ in the title. However, this meant changing the Rotarian’s constitution as a male-only group, which proved impossible. The plan was abandoned in 1930 after five years of negotiations, and the Club decided to continue as they were. The WPC continued as a social club until the 1980s, attracting many eminent women.

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