"I founded Gresford Craft Group in September 1980. I had been involved with fund-raising for Playgroup and Brownies and also had been teaching handicarfts for the L.E.A and through all of these I knew there was local interest and skills. Mrs Phyllis Holmes of the Handy Stores (in Gresford) had also told me that there were many young families moving into the area and discovering she sold knitting wools and patterns many young women were coming to her to discover how to knit!
Finding a venue had presented a problem. I approached the vicar (of All Saints Church, Gresford) and asked if I might use the room in Church House. I was a member of his congregation and although the new organisation would not be directly linked to the church, my offer to pay a small rent for the use of the room, persuaded him to agree. There was a coal fire in the earliest days, followed a year or so late by a gas fire which had to be regularly fed with 50p pieces.
My idea was that we would share our knowledge. There was the possibility that traditional crafts such as knitting, crochet and embroidery would die out. These were no longer being taught in schools and the need to move to find work meant that many families were now living far from parents and grandparents who might have passed on these skills.
With the needs of young mothers in mind, I set our hours to be from 9.30 - to allow for dropping children off at school and playgroup - to 11.30 to enable playgroup children to be picked up.
I set the initial charge per visit at 40p which I estimated would cover rent, heating and a cup of tea or coffee with biscuit each time. I planned to do the teaching myself as often as I could and each craft would run for a half-term and cover the basics to get started making something. Phyll Holmes had agreed to come along and teach crochet; which I had never mastered, and we were ready to go!
I contacted all the people I already knew and made some posters which were displayed in local shops. Knitting was to be our first craft and on the first Tuesday that the schools were back from holidays I was waiting in Church House to see who and how many would turn up.
There were about a dozen of us to begin with and we all sat around the one large table which then dominated the room.
By June 1981 we had an exciting number of finished items. We were proud of our achievements and decided to put on a display to show them off. We would hold a Coffee Morning in Church House to publicise our existence. I had tickets printed and each of us were given some to sell to friends and neighbours. Posters were put up around the village and we were ready with our first display of crafts."
Val Shields on
Susan Hill on
Jayne Mumford on