Country cups

By Norma Lovelace, Archivist, Queensland Country Women's Association (QCWA)

The cup donated by QCWA, emblazoned with the 88-year-old logo of the Queensland Country Women's Association, was made in the first batch of QCWA-badged china in 1947, the silver jubilee year of the Association.

The saucer is a year younger, made in 1948 – the year QCWA headquarters were moved from Toowoomba to Brisbane and named in honour of Foundation President Ruth Fairfax OBE.

This particular cup and saucer came from Ipswich, and is similar to others all over the state used by QCWA members providing hot tea and comfort to many over the years in different situations, for example:

  • The young country mother staying for weeks at QCWA Waiting Mothers Hostels in town in the 1930s to 1950s.
  • The farmer's wife spending time in a QCWA Rest Room in the local town, mixing with other country ladies while their husbands attended cattle or sheep sales, farmers' meetings or spending time at the hotel over a similar time period.
  • During World War 2, providing hot drinks for trainloads of soldiers at stops for loading coal or water as they travelled to the Far North for jungle training.
  • Providing comfort to those afflicted in times of disaster such as floods, fires and cyclones.
  • At happier social events such as Melbourne Cup lunches and country dances.

In Toowoomba at the QCWA Centre, which was open to the public, a tally was kept of cups of tea served: in 1951 – 13,350; in 1953 – 25,246!

Norma Lovelace was interviewed by ABC 7.30 QLD as part of a story about Tea & Me, which aired in August 2011