Hayton Women's Institute

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Past and Present.

Our first face to face meeting since March 2020 took place in September.  It was very different from the March meeting, when 44 people had crushed into The Reading Room to listen to a fascinating talk about swifts.  We had a generous buffet, with plenty of food to choose from: a memorable evening.  Our recent meeting was memorable in a different way, as 21 women sat, a metre apart, in a chilly but well-ventilated room, to listen to Chester Forster’s talk on the history of Carlisle Street names.  Afterwards there were ready wrapped biscuits served with a mug of tea. But the sense of community was still there & our spirits were not daunted, despite the absence of the usual WI buffet.

Chester’s talk was also very interesting.  We learned that the builders of the terraced houses all specialised in individual door styles, which identified their work, so that Aglionby Street for instance has 56 different types of door.  Chester’s main interest though lies in why the streets are named as they are.  The answer was fairly simple: the majority are named after family members, friends or the estates of rich landowners.  Lord Lonsdale owned land to the east of Carlisle, hence the names Lonsdale, Lowther & Cecil, after a son.  Similarly, the Duke of Devonshire’s land spawned streets with names associated with his land ownership in Derbyshire, London & Ireland: Chatsworth, Lismore, Chiswick & Hartington for example.  The Duke also gained land rent from each house built on his land, which Chester thought was still payable.  Geographical features are reflected, though, in names such as River, Petteril, Brook and Caldcoates Streets, the last implying a cold water stream, whilst a few reflect local history, such as Friar’s Lane, built on top of Greyfriars’ Convent.

Chester’s talk shone a spotlight on the impact of the past on the present. This inescapable impact was also felt in the August Zoom meeting, when volunteers from Cumbria Wildlife Trust told us about the huge pressure that the North Sea faces, despite it having 10 Marine Protection Zones.  Years of neglect and overfishing, we were told, have led to declining biodiversity, whilst climate change has led to increasing acidification.  Shockingly, less than 2% of protected areas are “no take” zones, ie where no fishing is allowed.  The volunteers of Cumbria Wildlife Trust are doing their level best in difficult times and deserve huge support, as we cannot escape the past but we can strive to improve the future. 

The next meeting is on Tuesday 12 October at 7pm when speakers from Friends of the Lake District are going to talk about The Dark Sky Project.  All welcome but bring your own mug!!

If you fancy joining in, contact Mary Skelley, secretary, myr1506@gmail.com

Mary Skelley     


Below is a list of the planned meetings for the remainder of the year. Because of the coronavirus outbreak it is possible/probable that many of these meetings will be cancelled, but please check back regularly - particularly if the lock-down is lifted.



Title of talk

Name of Zoom speaker

12 Oct

Dark Sky Project


Jack Ellerby

9 Nov

AGM & World Kindness

Day activities

Our Members

14 Dec

Christmas Party


Joe Mills: Stories for Christmas



Is the WI for you?

Hayton WI currently has 38 members and welcomes not only new members but also visitors to individual meetings.  Once a month, on the second Tuesday at 7pm, members meet in the Reading Room at Hayton for a talk or an activity together.  After this, there is always food and tea or coffee.

We are an active group.  This year, we have been to Dalemain, had a tour of the Civic Centre guided by the Mayor and have visited the Archives in Carlisle. We also go to the theatre, cinema, have two walks a month, have a regular swimming group, walking netball group and meet for meals out. There are frequent invitations to other WI groups too.

The WI is the biggest national organisation for women in the country. It is non-religious and non-political, open to all women over the age of 18.  Its roots lie in friendship and education as the movement was founded in Canada to combat rural isolation and to help women on lonely farms understand health issues.

Nowadays, whilst retaining those core principles, it is also widely associated with practical community activities. We serve tea for the school, church fete and Hayton Community Project. We also do litter picks locally and have left bouquets out for passers-by for World Kindness Day.

There is a campaigning aspect too.  Each year resolutions from the branches are voted on and those selected are promoted nationally.  This year’s choices are highly relevant as one is about tackling modern slavery.

Most of all though, the WI is about friendship.

Why not join us?