Food ra­tioning in city... 80 years on

Evening Times - - NEWS - Share your mem­o­ries of food ra­tioning and wartime Glas­gow by email­ing ann.fother­ing­[email protected]­gow­times.co.uk or writ­ing to Ann Fother­ing­ham, Glas­gow Times, 200 Ren­field Street, Glas­gow G2 3QB.

JAN­UARY is tra­di­tion­ally a lean month. as fam­i­lies re­cover from the ex­cesses of the fes­tive sea­son by choos­ing to diet, drink less and live more eco­nom­i­cally.

But 80 years ago this week, those liv­ing through the Sec­ond

World War had no choice, as food ra­tioning was in­tro­duced.

In Glas­gow, just as was hap­pen­ing across Bri­tain, queues of peo­ple wait­ing to hand over their ra­tion books in re­turn for their al­lo­ca­tion of sugar, but­ter and ba­con be­came com­mon­place.

Mar­garet Wal­lace, 79, who grew up in Scot­stoun, re­calls her mother’s tales of queu­ing out­side the lo­cal shops.

“You’d take along your book to the shop and come home with your al­lot­ted ra­tions,” ex­plains Mar­garet, who lived with her mother Mar­garet, fa­ther Bob – a clerk at Al­bion Mo­tors – and younger brother Jim. “The women got so used to it, they just made the best of it. I re­call things like cheese and eggs and meat be­ing ra­tioned, and petrol too – we didn’t have a car, so that didn’t af­fect us.”

Even sweets were ra­tioned – Jim Fer­gu­son, who came along to a Glas­gow Times Thanks for the Mem­o­ries event at Pos­sil­park Li­brary with his sis­ter Anne and cousin Linda, re­called: “We’d go to the cinema with the sweet­ies you got with your ra­tion book all wrapped up in a wee cone.”

Ra­tioning was in­tro­duced on Jan­uary 8, 1940. Ev­ery­one in the coun­try was given a book full of stamps which were handed to the shop­keeper in ex­change for cer­tain food­stuffs – at first, sugar, but­ter and ba­con were ra­tioned, but grad­u­ally more were in­tro­duced

as im­ports were dis­rupted by Ger­man U-boat at­tacks on Bri­tish ships.

Meat was ra­tioned from 11 March 1940; cook­ing fats and tea from July 1940, and cheese and pre­serves in 1941.

Com­pas­sion in Cri­sis, an ex­hi­bi­tion at Kelv­in­grove ded­i­cated to the Royal Vol­un­tary Ser­vice, re­veals the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s role in wartime Glas­gow, where it helped to hand out ra­tion books.

The ser­vice was founded by Stella Read­ing in 1938 to help re­cruit women into the Air Raid Pre­cau­tions move­ment and as­sist civil­ians dur­ing and af­ter air raids.

Since then the char­ity has evolved to tackle some of the big­gest so­cial chal­lenges of the day.

The ex­hi­bi­tion, which runs un­til Jan­uary 31, ex­plains how in 1941, the ser­vice helped the Min­istry of Food to dis­trib­ute 45 mil­lion ra­tion books in one week.

The Glas­gow Times’s sis­ter news­pa­per The Her­ald re­ported the start of food ra­tioning with a stoic stance – and some re­lief.

“If the ad­vent of ra­tioning serves daily to bring home to the pub­lic that the na­tion is at grips with an un­scrupu­lous en­emy, the ex­pe­ri­ence may have a salu­tary ef­fect on the pub­lic gen­er­ally,” it said.

“There is no sac­ri­fice in­volved in the scale of the ra­tions and the fact that the Min­istry of Food have ar­ranged that no coupons need be sur­ren­dered yet for ba­con and ham or­dered in restau­rant meals re­moves for the time be­ing per­haps the most irk­some as­pect of ra­tioning.

“We may con­sider our­selves for­tu­nate that such dis­ci­plinary ex­pe­ri­ences were post­poned un­til af­ter the Christ­mas and New Year hol­i­day pe­ri­ods.”

A ben­e­fit of ra­tioning was that many peo­ple were bet­ter fed dur­ing the war than be­fore, be­cause it al­lowed poorer peo­ple a fairer share of health­ier foods, and things like but­ter and sugar were less avail­able.

Ra­tioning con­tin­ued well be­yond the war and fi­nally ended in 1954.

Ev­ery­one in the coun­try was given a ra­tion book when they were in­tro­duced in 1940

Jim Fer­gu­son and fam­ily, from Pos­sil­park, re­called ra­tioning when he was a young­ster

Glas­gow’s RVS helped dis­trib­ute ra­tion books

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