The Harwell Women’s Institute was founded in October 1921, and by 1929 had seventy-four members; several ladies brought their children to the monthly meetings, which were held in the afternoon at the Technical Institute. The nineteen thirties saw the formation of a choir, a thrift club and a keep fit class, and it was decided to hold the meetings on the second Wednesday of each month.
On the outbreak of World War II in 1939, a club was formed for mothers and children evacuated from London. The W.I. members gave more local help by joining a Hospital Supply working party. During the “wartime forties” there were cooperative canning days, the fruit preserving centres, a W.I. allotment, egg collecting for Didcot hospital, and help for the Home Guard by clearing out a room at Rowstock for their use. In 1944 the W.I. answered the appeal for knitters for liberated Europe.
In the nineteen fifties meetings were held in the evenings, after thirty-seven years of meeting in the afternoon. In the nineteen-sixties numbers reached a record of 118 paid-up members at the peak.
In 1971 the Golden Jubilee for the Harwell branch was celebrated with a telegram from the Queen; in 1981 the Diamond Jubilee drew several ex-presidents from various parts of the country to join in the celebrations. In 1985 there were sixty-nine paid-up members, meeting on the second Wednesday of every month except August, in the Village Hall.