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Walker, Christine (fl.1950-2017) co-operator

ADMINISTRATIVE/BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY: Christine Walker was a member of the Co-operative Women's Guild, following her mother Martha Mary Fynn into the organisation.

Walker was born in the Midlands to Walsh parents. Her father had migrated from South Wales in 1929 to secure work, bring his wife with him. Walker’s mother joined the Co-operative Women’s Guild in the late 1930s after meeting Welsh women living in the area. She became National Vice President of the Guild in 1963.

Walker followed her mother into the Guild joining the Baddesley Ensor Branch in 1969 after her mother had convinced a local member in Walker’s village to recruit her. At the time, Baddesley Branch had around 30 members of mixed ages and backgrounds possibly because of it location close to a coal mine. After six weeks of joining the Guild, Walker became Secretary, later taking the positions of Treasurer, and then Chairman, of the Branch.

In the 1970s Walker became the Branch delegate to the Nuneaton District Committee, meeting other local delegates once a month. It was during this decade that Walker also started to attend the Annual Congress of the Guild. In 1978 she met Sue King whose archive is also deposited at Bishopsgate Institute.

In the early 1980s, Walker became Treasurer of the Section Committee whilst also starting a part-time job for the first time. In 1988 her employment was made full time, resulting in Walker stepping down from her position in the Guild. She was appointed a magistrate in 1982 – a position she held until 2012.

Throughout her time at the Guild, Walker with the help of King has campaigned to changes the organisation’s rules in an attempt to enable younger women to move up through the structure. At the time, there was no limit on how long a position could be held for, resulting in senior positions being held for long periods of time. Walker and King found support among the younger members but they also encountered resistance. In both the 1980s and the 1990s they proposed radical changes to the Guild structure which were initially accepted in both cases but then later changed. However, they were successful in arranging two weekend congresses which enable working women to attend for the first time.

In the mid-1980s Walker was a Chairman of the Standing Orders Committee and then Clerk to the same committee. In 2013 she became a trustee to the Mrs Ben Jones Convalescent Fund.

Unfortunately, Walker never returned to the Guild full time to push for changes to the structure as she had hoped when she took up full time work in the 1980s. But she did continue to agitating in the background and at Congress, returning to her District work as Chairman and later District Secretary in 2013. Baddesley Ensor Guild closed in 2014 because of low member numbers, and Walker with two others joined the Nuneaton Central Guild.
The Co-operative Women’s Guild closed nationally in 2016.

SCOPE AND CONTENT: Papers of Christine Walker, member of the Co-operative Women's Guild, including Annual Congress papers, meeting papers from the final years of the Guild, correspondence and ephemera, (c.1950-2016).

QUANTITY: 30 files