Rationing and restaurants

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by ethan, Jul 9, 2012.

  1. ethan

    ethan Member

    I was just reading Evelyn Waugh's 'Unconditional Surrender', which has several references to certain restaurants avoiding the strict rules about serving food- I'm interested in this topic-

    Any idea where I could get more information about what restaurants served, how much they charged, whether or not spies really brought back cheese from occupied lands to sell on the black market...
  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

  3. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  4. Noreen

    Noreen Member

    Does anyone know if the Co-op had restaurants while rationing was going on?
  5. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

    Try, "An Underworld at War: Spivs, Deserters, Racketeers and Civilians in the Second World War" by Donald Thomas, (Pub: John Murray London 2003) It's out of print but you can get a used copy easily. There's also Stuart Hylton's, Careless Talk, the hidden history of the Home Front, which is good and out in paperback. There are many references to food rationing and the black market and if I remember rightly ( I can't find my copy just now) the bibliography in the Thomas book is useful. Paul Fussell has a chapter on the subject in his "Wartime" and again the bibliography is excellent.
  6. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Every town had a British Restaurant.I think that there was some connection with the local council organisation...they may have been charged by the government to be responsible for it.

    I remember the one in Castleford,West Yorkshire which was a temporary building,to the design of the Maycrete,erected in the market place. A meal could be had for 6d and I think they were designed for workers who did not have catering facilities at their place of work.Probably an incentive to increase productivity since the worker did not have to travel home.

    A similar incentive to increase industrial productivity was extended to industry where employers allowed their employees to have haircuts done on site usually by those having haircutting skills.....led to the simple cut,"the basin cut".This practice of on site haircutting was still in use as late as the late 1950s where people were engaged on shift work.

    After the war,I remember the B.R building surviving for about 5 years, being put to good use by the local council
  7. Noreen

    Noreen Member

    Thanks BrianM59; I've just reserved An Underworld at War from my local library and look forward to checking it out.

    Thanks Harry Ree; your recollections are very interesting. I had never heard of British Restaurants until I started my current researches. In fact when I first saw the abbreviation B.R. I thought it had something to do with British Rail until I sorted out when nationalisation took place and realised it wasn't. I followed a link from a different thread that ended up with photos of the British Restaurant in Liverpool; it looked rather smart and trendy actually but the food seemed a bit basic! Haircuts at work.......and I always thought the basin cut was literally that; didn't realise it needed skill !!!
  8. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  9. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    whilst on leave - I took my sister out for dinner at a normal restaurant where she spotted "eggs" on the menu and so asked if these were "fresh eggs " - yes M'am the waiter replied - cockerel's eggs ! They were of course powdered eggs

  10. Noreen

    Noreen Member

    Thanks CL1: I hadn't stumbled onto that thread and those buildings are really interesting. I used to work in a school where something similar was used for the school canteen; terrible conditions.

    Very funny Tom Canning; I've only ever once eaten powdered egg and it was disgusting but it was at a Girl Guide camp in 1964.

    If you haven't seen this clip, the opening is really good for restaurants and rationing although slightly post-war: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/horsemeat-scandal/query/horse+meat+scandal
    CL1 likes this.
  11. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    re powdered eggs:
    We used them during and after the war.
    One of my early memories: my Mum let me make a sponge cake with the precious ration of powdered eggs. I took it out of the oven......and dropped it on the floor :eek:
    We scraped it up and ate it (I think.)
    But we also had eggs from a farmer uncle which we preserved in icinglass.
    In our small NE coastal town there was no restaurant, but I remember much late eating in one in Hull which was supposedly for the manual worrkers. And very good the food was too .
  12. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I remember the powered eggs well,actually yokes.They were imported from the the US and were packed into dark green waxed cartons....all part of the rations. Remember having two Black Leghorn hens shortly after the war...very good layers and regarded as family pets....fed them on boiled peelings mashed up with Karswood powder...a sort of fish derived vitamin. Karswood was always advertised as being the additive that enhanced egg laying performance.

    I do not think that the fresh egg demand in Britain was satisfied until the late 1950s when the battery hen method of egg production became commonplace.
  13. Noreen

    Noreen Member

    Who would ever have thought that powdered egg would get a Wiki page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powdered_eggs . I didn't realise until googling just now that you can still buy it. Think I'll stick with fresh though.
  14. jetson

    jetson Junior Member

    Until the commencement of the school dinners service at fivepence a day, I used to meet my mother from work at lunchtime and we would "dine" in the good old British Restaurant. Three courses for a shilling I believe it was around where we lived and very nutritious. The establishment was presided over by a white coated and very formidable looking lady who patrolled the queue awaiting to be served, armed with a hefty soup ladle which she continually slapped into the palm of her other hand! Don't think she ever lashed out at anybody but her strolling up and down maintained good order and military discipline! The British Restaurant system closed immediately on cessation of hostilities as even the incoming Labour Government said it smacked of Communism. In hindsight, I think it was a marvellous idea and it is a great pity we do not possess such a facility in this day and age.
  15. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Egg powder was also the ingredient for scrambled eggs and always on the breakfast menu in RAF messes...horrible stuff with a large percentage of water included...best avoided.

    Served at a time in the RAF when we still had rationing. Strategic stocks of dried potato powder,later to be known as pom was held by the Air Ministry and to turn over stocks,the stuff was served once a week...just like glutinous starch which threatened to overcome jaw strength.

    Butter on ration throughout and the daily ration was allocated for tea in the mess...started off with the practice of dishing out blobs of butter which floated on a vat of water...each man received his blob as the last stage of service,usually by an airman detailed on a week of cookhouse fatigues...jankers for the airman who was caught adding a second blob to the plate of his acquaintances...margarine was on free issue...then one of the cooks decided to mix butter with margarine aided by an industrial mixer, we had a better spread....they must have been the pioneers of "stork"..welcomed by all.

    Then a pint of bitter in the NAAFI....no lager in those days, cost 10d at a time when there was 240d to the £ ...spirits always consider dear,was about 3 shillings and 6d a shot.....in those days on a round, it was considered good etiquette not to ask for a tot of spirits.
  16. Drayton

    Drayton Senior Member

    The Co-op has not traditionally run restaurants, and I am not aware of any run during WW2 or the aftermath
  17. Drayton

    Drayton Senior Member

    Not so. British Restaurants continued for some time after the war, and then the government offered them to local authorities. I am not sure about other places, but Birmingham Corporation ran theirs for quite a number of years as Civic Restaurants.

    If there was any politicking, it was by an incoming Conservative-controlled council, which abolished them because of alleged unfair competition with private restaurants.
  18. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  19. Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson Member

    If you catch Foyle's War, keep an eye out for their occasional restaurant scenes. Priceless.
    This series is a true period piece. Nicely done indeed. I can think of no better way to re-experience this.

    One in particular stands out. The scene in which you can see the excitement in the eyes of Honeysuckle Weeks when she is invited to a Seaside View Restaurant.
    Then the bitter dissapointment at not being able to afford a meal, the obvious relief at being gifted a sandwich from her boyfriend,
    then the dismay at it being two slices of white bread with a slice of cheese. No butter, no lettuce, no nada. Priceless.

  20. Noreen

    Noreen Member

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