This article was written by Monica Mullins for the Amersham Society/Amersham Museum newsletter and is reproduced here with permission.
Many members will have known Gwen Pridmore from her active participation in the Amersham Society and the early days of setting up the Museum. Sadly, Gwen died on 31 July 2007, aged 87, having sustained a fall after becoming very frail over the last few years.
Her early years had been spent in Northwood but the family moved to Chesham Bois when Gwen was 10 and went on to spend the rest of her life mainly in Amersham. Always purposeful and very practical, during the War years Gwen was a Red Cross nurse, active in setting up a unit for injured soldiers at Amersham Hospital; she also helped in the reception and allocation to local families of evacuee children, and found time with her younger sister to run a café in Little Chalfont, the Opal Café, making and baking all the food themselves. In 1941, Gwen married Robin Pridmore, one of the originators of the Radio Chemical Centre, later Amersham International. He passed away in 1979. Their daughter Valerie continued to live in Old Amersham.
Gwen’s parents had been active in the local Repertory Theatre and their home in Chesham Bois became a home from home for visiting actors. This early interest in matters theatrical was probably influential in her great support of the first Martyrs Play put on by the Museum in 2001, with the application of her considerable sewing skills to the many costumes required for the play. Before then, she had generously applied those skills to making very large numbers of textile items sold at fund raising stalls for the benefit of Amersham Museum and Rectory Meadow Surgery.
Gwen’s particular interest in promoting the development of the Museum found her enthusiastically making all the clothing for the Museum’s two costume figures, ‘Harriet’ (see photo to left) and ‘Thomas’ the Chairmaker. After careful research to find the right style and fabric suited to each, every garment was stitched by hand, a detail appropriate to the period represented. Gwen even made the shoes for ‘Harriet’.
Another of her contributions to the Museum were some delicate Victorian and Edwardian needlework tools (see pincushion above), an appealing addition to the museum’s collection, along with the minute handmade bone dominoes, always a source of interest to visitors.