Northern Society of Costume and Textiles
'From Women in Service to Servicewomen'
Burnby Hall, Pocklington, Nr. York



'From Women in Service to Servicewomen'

 The meeting opened with a welcome to Pocklington by the Town Crier dressed in his magnificent regalia.

Then followed the presentation, ‘From Woman in Service to Servicewoman’, which is the story of Thomina Pearson. Thomina left domestic service in 1918 to join the exciting new Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). The events of World War I changed her life and that of thousands of young women forever, as they unwittingly paved the way for the lives women are able to lead today.

Tomina’s story was told by her Granddaughter, Wendy Taylor of Pocklington, proudly wearing a replica of her Grandmother’s uniform - which in itself represents a significant change for women, as fashion adapted to meet their new roles in wartime.

Born in Sheffield in 1898 Thomina spent her short childhood in and around Hemsworth before entering domestic service in Chester. When WW1 started it was expected to be over quickly, but as the time went by, and more Men were needed to fight, so the Women stepped up to the various roles, encouraged by a series of recruiting Posters.

Uniforms for Women helping in the war effort had to be practical and the fashion started to change. From ammunition factory workers to bus drivers and farmers, women were respected as citizens and felt they had a group identity with the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, (nicknamed by the French Les Tommetts). Thomina joined in 1918 and was sent to Prees Heath in Shropshire to cook for men in training camps before being sent for active service. She met her future husband there, John Herbert Driffield, and the rest as they say ‘is History.’

Wendy brought with her a variety of original WWI artefacts and replicas, books, magazine, dressed in one of the costumes of displeys and posters to put on display.


Scarborough School of Arts presented their work in the afternoon. Five Graduating Students presented finished costumes from the BA Hons course in Historical and Performance Costumes for Stage and Screen. Following a presentation by Janet Hull, one of the Course Leaders, each of the Students, dressed in one of the costumes on dsiplay, spoke about the making of their Costumes from the underpinnings to the elaborate beadwork and jewelled bodices. After the Meeting the students, still dressed in costume, paraded around the adjacent Burnby Hall Gardens, much to the delight of the visitors, many of whom took photographs of them.


Members were interested to learn that in addition to being a Course Leader for the Students, Janet Hull, (a Committee Member of the Society), also made the costumes worn at the Meeting by Wendy Taylor and the Pocklington Town Crier.


For images from this meeting go to the Gallery