SLIDESHOW: Retro - A huge circle of women

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Trips abroad, a slimming club, local groups organising charity events, a choir, even its own brand of tights... all part of the amazing Sheffield Star Women’s Circle.

When Retro Club readers suggested looking back at the Women’s Circle of the 1970s, I didn’t realise what a huge organisation this was.

The Star Women's Circle. 'Picture shows Harry Secomble with members of the Star Women's Circle at the Fiesta Club in Sheffield - 28th June 1971

The Star Women's Circle. 'Picture shows Harry Secomble with members of the Star Women's Circle at the Fiesta Club in Sheffield - 28th June 1971

Demand was so great for the Women’s Circle that by 1971 there were special counters set up in The Star’s offices in Sheffield and Rotherham. They sold tickets to events, plus Women’s Circle packets of tights, diaries and brooches as well as distributing free knitting patterns and other giveaways.

A top giveaway went to Jean Piper from Parson Cross when she won a trip to a health farm for being the slimming club star in 1973.

The big event was the Circle’s Dance of the Year, when top stars like Kathy Kirby performed and the crowd waited to see who had been named Woman of the Year.

The Women’s Circle Singers, led by Joyce Chittenden, performed at such occasions, and also raised money for charity at other appearances.

More good work was done by the On Our Conscience teams. The one set up at Parson Cross raised money to take 100 old people on a day trip to Derbyshire in 1971.

The trips abroad got huge coverage in the paper. When 73 members went to Paris in April 1970, for example, there were descriptions and pictures of club members at the Moulin Rouge nightspot, hitting the shops, visiting the Eiffel Tower and cruising down the Seine.

Reporters even went to see how the menfolk were doing while their wives were away for four whole days!

Benjamin Hunt of Walkley said his wife Phyllis had left cakes and an apple pie but he’d also been to the pub for steak every night.

A trip to Holland in April 1971 attracted 140 members, who watched cheese-making, enjoyed a water bus tour of Amsterdam and spotting hippies in the city. They tried on diamond rings and came back with huge bunches of tulips.

When a coach broke down, Jean Cooper of Chapeltown joked: “It is my first time abroad and I have to push the ruddy coach.”

On a trip to the US two years later, the reporter sent back a series of articles on many aspects of life in a country that few would then have visited.

n If you have memories or photographs from the Women’s Circle, email julia.armstrong@thestar.co.uk or write to Julia Armstrong at Retro, The Star, York Street, Sheffield, S1 1PU.