The end of UK rationing 65 years ago
THE queues and scarcities of post-war rationing finally came to an end 65 years ago.
On July 4, 1954, shoppers said good riddance to food rationing in the United Kingdom, a full nine years after the end of World War II, which had brought the practice into being.
Inevitably there were some initial problems. Meat prices rose 40% overnight, but the housewives of the North East, toughened by years of war and austerity, were having none of it.
“Women will boycott high prices for meat”, declared one story in our sister paper, the Evening Chronicle.
But things would soon settle down in bombed-out Britain as the country gradually recovered to enjoy a period of relative peace and prosperity for the rest of the decade – and beyond.
Our photos from the Sunday Sun archive give a taste of life around our region in 1954. We see day-trippers and holidaymakers at Whitley Bay and Seahouses.
We see shipbuilding still going strong on the Rivers Tyne and Wear as the industry enjoyed a post-war boom.
And we see folk determined to enjoy their leisure time, whether it be children watching the Saturday morning matinee at the Majestic Cinema in Benwell, or the 48,000 crowd which saw Newcastle United beat Burnley 1-0 in the FA Cup 4th round at a snowy St James’ Park.
(The Magpies wouldn’t lift the trophy this year, however, and would have to be content with Wembley triumphs in 1951, 1952 and 1955. It would be a largely glorious decade).
Elsewhere in 1954, it was the year of Roger Bannister’s sub four-minute mile; JRR Tolkien’s fantasy novel The Lord Of The Rings was published; and Prime Minister Winston Churchill reached the grand old age of 80 while in office.
In pop music, rock’n’roll was set to explode into life as Bill Haley and the Comets released the seminal Rock Around The Clock, and a young Elvis Presley set out on the road to superstardom. Popular films included Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, On the Waterfront, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
And at a time when there was only one television channel and not every home had a TV set, those who did enjoyed the likes of Panorama, The Good Old Days, the Flower Pot Men, and Andy Pandy.
■ Holidaymakers watch fishing boats unload their catch at Seahouses harbour, Northumberland, 1954
■ Knocking off work are the shipyard workers of the River Wear, Sunderland, April 1954
■ Above, “three children living in the poor quarter of Newcastle”, Picture Post, May 1954 (Getty Images); left, the Castle Keep in Newcastle. January 1, 1954