The South Petherwin Women’s Institute began its life with a small group of ladies in 1922. Their monthly meetings were held at first in hired rooms but as membership grew it was thought advisable to find other accommodation. In a secluded part of the village stood an old cottage where Misses Grace and Betsey Walters lived for many years. At their death the cottage became vacant. The W.I. members were alert and purchased the old cottage and plot of land. The old cottage was demolished and on the site the building of the Women’s Institute Hall began. It was soon finished with the erection and building on completion costing £600. The opening was performed in June of 1930. The funds were raised entirely by W.I. Members. The furniture of the Hall was a generous gift from the family of the late Rev. T. May, M.A., Who for 41 years had been the vicar of South Petherwin.
The building saw a variety of use during the second world war with the Civil Defence, Homeguard and blood transfusion unit all making it their base in South Petherwin. It was also the reception for evacuees and a baby-food distribution centre. The Cornwall Lending Library was started in 1922 and a Miss Harris was the first to take responsibility for the books, subsequently being succeeded by Mrs I. M. Jenkin.
The W.I. Presidents have been many, the first lady to have the honour was Mrs Christine Saunders, of Old Tree House, Trebursye. The first secretary was Miss Blanche Werring and the first treasurer, Miss E. E. Bradbury.
By the 1980’s the membership had dwindled to a small group and it was decided to pass the Hall over for the use of the community as the Village Hall and after a refurbishment in 2011 the Hall is now as good as new and home to all kinds of groups.
The Original Playing Field
With the construction of a new play area for the children having been completed back in the summer of 2014, we can cast ourselves back to when the field by ‘The Winds of Change’ was the original 1950’s playing field. The field within easy reach of the children of the village, was lent free of charge, by Mr Colin Wills, of Trelinnoe. A pavilion was erected costing £200 for serving teas when various games and sports were held. Swings and sea-saws and a sand-pit were fixed in place with seats available for adults to sit. It was stated at the time that “the playing field will prove a great comfort and pleasure especially to mothers with young children as through the village runs a main road on which the traffic is increasing.” By how much they probably never even contemplated.