Despite the end of World War II in 1945, the 1950s continued to see widespread international conflict – Korean War, Vietnam War, the Suez Crisis, the Algerian War and internal conflicts in Cuba, Kenya and Hungary dominated world politics. In an attempt to build relationships, post-war Europe established the European Common Market fore-runner of the EU. In the UK, King George VI died and his elder daughter, Elizabeth succeeded him as Elizabeth II and Roger Bannister broke the four minute mile.
Women’s fashion prioritized elegance, formality and perfectly matched accessories, softness and femininity were key although women were starting to wear trousers more often in casual settings.
More women were moving into the workplace after their experiences working during the war, fulfilling hat were considered traditionally ‘men’s roles’ while men were off fighting. Rock and Roll was starting to replace Big Band / Swing music and women writers such as Doris Lessing and Patrician Highsmith were challenging social norms
In this background, a group of American military wives based in the Chilterns area got together to meet on a regular basis and start raising money for local charities. Initially, it was a very informal group meeting in each other homes, providing support and assistance particularly to expat wives coming into the UK. The first meetings were referred to as ‘Block Coffees’ as each area of the RAF in the UK was given a Block number. Throughout the Fifties the Club continued to grow and members from other countries joined the group. No formal subscription was levied but donations were made to help with the cost of refreshments. Gradually other activities and events were added to the schedule including outings for the members and their children.