The Surgical Requisites Association was an offshoot of Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild, who undertook to supply surgical dressings. Two women, Anne Acheson and Elinor Halle, who were both sculptors, devised a way of making splints out of papier mache that were both lighter and cheaper than those made of traditional materials. Old sugar bags were found to be the best material, and these were collected from grocers and members of the public with the help of boy scouts. The Bath branch of the association, believed to be one of only 6 outside London, was established in January 1918, and formally opened later that year by HRH Princess Beatrice accompanied by Lady Crutchley, the head of the first depot in Mulberry Walk, London.
Cedric Chivers, the vice-president of the association, gave premises at 39 Gay Street rent free, and all the staff (some 170 by November 1918) were volunteers, most of them women. Mrs Preston-King, president of the association, proposed calling the bath depot ‘The Gift House’ because ‘everything received there is given and everything is given away’. As well as splints, the association produced ‘peg-legs’ that were given to amputees until they could be fitted with artificial limbs at Roehampton, and the boys of the Somerset Industrial School assisted in the process by turning the ends. In November 1918 the Bath Chronicle reported that the association had produced 2880 items, most of which had been sent to the Bath War Hospital and other local institutions who treated wounded soldiers.