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Shirley, RA., 2016.

Pylons and Frozen Peas: The Women's Institute Goes Electric

Output Type:Chapter in a book
Publication:Transforming the Countryside The Electrification of Rural Britain

In 1965 the rural women's organisation, the Women's Institute (WI) set their members that task of creating village scrapbooks as part of the celebrations for their Golden Jubilee.
The scrapbooks, now held in county archives or by the institutes themselves, provide a fascinating perspective on rural life; one that is constructed from multiple female voices and intimately involved in the detail of everyday life. Inspired by the visual nature of the scrapbooks, together with the information they contain this chapter starts by exploring the context of local and national tensions around the preservation and development of the rural landscape triggered by the installation of pylons and electrical wiring systems. It then goes on to focus on the domestic impact of rural electrification, specifically attending to the enthusiastic take up of frozen food in rural places and the idea that rural women were targeted by manufacturers as early adopters of deep freeze technology. In this way it attempts to animate the rural as an active site of modernity rather than as a passive victim of "the march of the pylons".