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Sarn Local History

The W.I. movement is celebrating it’s Centenary in 2019.  You will have seen the Montgomeryshire Ladies round and about in the villages. 

Sarn W.I. was founded in 1922 six years before many of the members would have been entitled to vote.

To mark Sarn’s first 10 years the vice-president, a founder member, Alice Ridding described the village as it then was. The population was about 275 with about 100 children in the village school, most of whom stayed here for the whole of their time in education. A very few made it to the Newtown county school. These children cycled to Kerry station where they took a train to Abermule & then on to Newtown.

There was no NHS but there were infectious diseases, T.B., diphtheria, scarlet fever and chicken pox.

Although there was a daily bus service to Newtown life revolved around the village. There were two shops, a Post Office, the Sarn Inn, two blacksmiths, two wheelwrights/undertakers and a tailor. A baker is noted but nobody seems to be sure where this might have been. Many farmers wives were still using the old bread ovens to bake the family’s bread.

Most people worked on the land, horses literally providing the horsepower. Numerous small holdings were established after the First World War but there were no council houses. Sarn still has the highest concentration of council holdings in Powys. Bilberries collected on the hills & sent to Birmingham paid for children’s shoes. The list of things people didn’t have seems endless. No electricity, water, sewerage. Phone calls could only be made from the Post Office.

Social life centred on church and chapel but the WI made a big difference for the hard working women. Forty members learnt a wide range of skills from cake making to basket weaving. They also learnt how to run meetings, a skill which led to women taking a proper place on the running of the village hall, the school & other organisations.

WI members continued to record the changes in Sarn & marked the Millennium with a book which shows the houses & people of Sarn at the turn of the century. Sarn Local History Group continues to record the village past & present.