CLOSING A CHAPTER: Norwin CWA president Joyce Hornick with members Shirley Ladner and Madeleine Ferguson cutting the cake to celebrate their branch's 92 years.
CLOSING A CHAPTER: Norwin CWA president Joyce Hornick with members Shirley Ladner and Madeleine Ferguson cutting the cake to celebrate their branch's 92 years. Shannon Hardy

Ladies say fond farewells

WHETHER you or your family are directly involved or just lucky enough to live in an area with a Country Women's Association branch, you probably have fond memories of morning teas and bake sales, handmade crafts and community donations.

For residents of the Norwin area, the time came on Tuesday, March 5, to say farewell to their branch.

After 92 years of service to their community and beyond, Norwin CWA closed the doors of its hall after one last hurrah.

More than 60 people turned out for a classic QCWA morning tea at the hall, which stands alone at the crossroads of Norwin, Brookstead, Nangwee and Branchview roads.

Among the revellers were past and present CWA members from across the Darling Downs and residents of the Norwin area, who all shared in their fond memories of the hall and the ladies who have occupied it through the years.

President of the Norwin branch Joyce Hornick said it was a memorable day but she hated to see a branch fold.

"Very, very sorry to have to do it, but we've run out of members,” Mrs Hornick said.

"Two of us are in our 90s and I think the next one's 88, so it's time to call it quits I'd say.”

Mrs Hornick's grandmother was with Ruth Fairfax when she went to see the governor and start the CWA.

"I feel guilty closing down because I promised my grandmother I'd be in the CWA until the last oomph.”

Memories were shared on the old hall, which members and volunteers built by hand before it was officially opened on April 18, 1953.

This hall was the Norwin branch's home until December of 1973, when a thunderstorm during the Children's Christmas Tree Party resulted in a lightning strike.

Members recall the building burning to the ground while the gutters overflowed with water.

By November 1974 a new hall was opened and it is this hall that stands today.

The Norwin CWA branch has donated the hall and its contents to the Cecil Plains History Group.

The group plans to move the hall to Cecil Plains so they can display the history of the Norwin branch and other history from the area alongside their existing display at the Cecil Plains train station.

Cecil Plains History Group president Margot Ladner said the group started in 1992 with a filing cabinet in the local library.

When they needed more space, the group was given the Cecil Plains Railway Station because trains no longer went there.

"We've cemented the platform and we've got a train that was given to us by Queensland Rail,” MsLadner said.

The group has been looking at ways to expand their display but they all seemed too expensive.

"Then the CWA offered the hall.”

Ms Ladner said it was important to keep the history of towns like Cecil Plains and Norwin safe because it was a very rich history.

"It's well worth preserving for young people to know what has gone before,” she said.

"We're a country with very little history and need to preserve the bit that we've got.”

Norwin CWA was formed on March 15, 1927, with eight members. It closed March 5, 2019, with eight members.


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