Thursday, July 12, 2012

February 1-7, 1941

Speakers at the opening ceremony were engaged in some political banter as Swindon’s Food Week was launched at the Town Hall.  A heavy hint from Sir Arthur Strickland, Divisional Food Officer for the need of local authority funded community feeding kitchens was answered by Councillor R.G. Cripps who said he hoped Swindon, with its large number of visitors, would be allocated more food.

The Mayor & Mayoress launch Swindon Food Week
A display of advertising posters produced by local schoolchildren was on display in the main hall while leaflets on ideal menus and saving fuel and waste, written by Swindon Domestic Science teachers could be purchased from the propaganda stall.

As Swindon looked forward to a busy week of activities, talks and film shows, the cookery demonstrations soon caused a wholesale furore.

Farcical Food Demonstrations – Ministry Out of Touch with ordinary Housewife were the headlines as Swindon’s eagerly anticipated Food Week received harsh criticism.  Councillors asked some pertinent questions when the local Food Control Committee met in the middle of the weeks programme of events.
Cookery demonstrations intended to help the housewife stretch her meagre rations were dismissed as little better than useless.

Miss Carter shows Swindon housewives how it's done at a cookery demonstration  at the Swindon United Gas Company's Hall in Temple Street

Councillor Mrs E.M. Simpkins wanted to know how the average housewife was expected to make recipes using hard to get ingredients.

“The demonstrations are more or less a farce when such things as these are rationed,” she said, referring to a flapjack demonstration using margarine, sugar, honey and syrup.

Councillor Calderwood accused the Ministry of Food as being out of touch with the normal housewife while Mrs Simpkins declared that the ideal food controller would be a married woman, preferably one with a large family and a limited income.

And councillors proved they were not dragging their feet when they met this week.  Following comments made by Sir Arthur Strickland, the General Purposes and Emergency Committee elected a special subcommittee to establish one or more communal kitchens in the town.  The Ministry of Labour offered to place premises in Maxwell Street at the disposal of the Corporation for use as a midday communal kitchen.

Miss Weedon gives a demonstration at the Swindon Corporation Electricity Show Rooms in Regent Circus

And Swindon ARP wardens were getting hot under the collar – but it was all good news.  While the ladies of the Women’s Voluntary Service were busy knitting woollen comforts for members of the Civil Defence services, the Town Council heard that slow combustion stoves and electric radiators were to be installed at the wardens’ group headquarters.  A further 36 electric heaters had also been acquired for the wardens’ town posts.

Swindon Cage Bird Society
“The Swindon Cage Bird Society members’ show held at the Town Hall on Saturday, in aid of the Red Cross was a big success and exceeded all expectations,” reported the Advertiser.  “Some of the finest birds in the country were on show, and considering that breeders have had to improvise substitute feeding stuffs owing to the difficulty in obtaining seed, the standard generally was exceedingly high.”

The cup for the most points gained with three birds was won by R.E. Hyde.  Awards were presented by the Mayoress Mrs Allen who spoke about the good work being done by the local branch of the Red Cross Society.

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