The three churches of Ridgmont were very involved with the local community, providing activities for the children as well as providing a place of worship.

The Baptist chapel had the idea of establishing a social centre for the evacuees of Ridgmont and Brogborough, where most were housed. This operation was overseen by Mrs. Stewart, a member of the Women's Volunteer Service.

It was sited in the schoolroom of the chapel, which had both fireplaces and cooking facilities - "many local women feel they should do their best possible to make the scheme acceptable to their wartime guests"

The first meeting was held in February 1941, and it was seen as a place where the women evacuees could come and talk. It was also seen as somewhere where the two communities could meet and "in a friendly atmosphere, misunderstandings could be cleared away".

By August of the same year, the rest room was heralded as a great success, being the first of many in the area. To mark this success, the children of Brogborough entertained friends and parents at a garden party.

Source: Woburn Reporter February 4th and 18th 1941

Women and children chatting in the Evacuee Restroom ©Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service
Evacuee children entertained friends and parents visiting the restroom in August 1941 .©Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service

The boys from William Morris School. Walthamstow were evacuated to Ridgmont during the war. Some of the older boys were allowed to help in the school allotments. Their efforts were rewarded when, in August 1941, they won an award of 5 shillings from the Bedfordshire Agricultural Society.

They were especially praised for transforming the site from 'an almost derelict site to one yielding a good crop of vegetables'. This led to the award becoming an annual event.

Source: Woburn Reporter August 19th 1941

Schoolboy gardener's attending the allotment ©Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service

Most of the Ridgmont children went home for lunch, but the children from Brogborough, in excess of 100, were not so lucky - and had to make do with cold meals in the school hall.

In December 1941, the authorities put together a scheme to resolve this and from early January 1942, hot school dinners were taken in the YMCA village hall opposite the school. Two new electric cookers were installed into the village hall especially for the purpose.

The first meal was described as "an excellent dinner of roast beef, vegetables and gravy with prunes, figs and milk pudding". Meals were priced at 5d a day or 2s a week.

Source: Woburn Reporter December 9th 1941 and January 13th 1942

The lucky children of Brogborough being served hot dinners in the YMCA village hall ©Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service