THE STRUCTURE OF THE ORGANISATION
The British Women’s Temperance Association (B.W.T.A) was founded at a meeting in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1876.
When it was founded, the structure of the Organisation was as follows –
National Executive Committee (NEC)
This consisted of the Officers: National President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer
County Unions encompassed large areas such as Warwickshire and Staffordshire.
Thousands of branches were established throughout Great Britain to undertake temperance work within their local area.
Branches were encouraged to submit reports of the work they had been undertaking during the year.
As well as the Officers, the NEC also consisted of representatives from County Unions. In the early days there were hundreds of NEC members. The NEC Officers held their position for three years and were elected at Annual Council.
The purpose of the County Unions was to support Branches which fell within their areas, and to establish new Branches.
They had their own Officers (President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer) and held annual meetings with representatives from their Branches, at which Officers were voted.
Annual Council was hosted by the County Unions and moved around the country. This gave Members a chance to attend an Annual Council if they were unable to or couldn’t afford to travel.
Each Branch paid an annual fee to be affiliated to their County Union. Two years after the Organisation was founded, total subscription fees were £30 (the equivalent of over £3,000). Just six years later, they had risen to £140 (over £12,000 in today’s money).
Over the years, member numbers reduced and County Unions and Branches diminished. There were a number of reasons for this but principally women were no longer expected to stay at home. They were encouraged to go out to work which started a decline in the way the Organisation was originally structured. Our organisation has adapted to suit this change in society, and in the 1990’s a Mobile Education Unit was established by President Dr. Gwen Stretton who saw a need for outreach work. The Mobile Unit toured summer fetes and shopping centres, providing awareness of the effects of alcohol, drugs, tobacco and gambling. While we no longer use the Mobile Unit, it was important for reigniting our organisation and preparing it for the work that we continue to do today to promote healthy lifestyle choices.