Sunday, July 22, 2012

January 11-17, 1941

Swindon housewives saved more than 22 tons of kitchen waste since the collection scheme began in December.  But critics who felt that this was a poor show for a town with an estimated population of 70,000 were reminded that some households had very little ‘waste.’ 

And as the government announced a price reducing subsidy, Advertiser readers were reminded of the nutritional value of loose oatmeal and oat flakes.

“There are 3 good reasons why you should eat plenty of oatmeal,” The Ministry of Food advised.  “First for fitness; oatmeal gives you energy, helps protect you from illness, and makes strong bones and healthy blood.  Secondly, it is home produced.  Thirdly, it is economical; you can add it to almost every kind of dish to make it go further and increase its food value.”

Meanwhile women’s war work came under scrutiny as recently released figures revealed there were 276,889 wholly unemployed women and girls.  However Mr W. Blacklock, Principal of the College, praised women who were volunteering for special short training classes.  Speaking to members of the Swindon Women’s Gas Council, Mr Blacklock told how the newly instituted courses qualified women for work of real national importance as fitters and electrical instrument workers.

Instructor Mr F. Hathaway, pictured with members of the women’s Electrical Instrument Fitting Class at the Swindon College.

And Mrs Minnie Lawrence of 13 Lethbridge Road told the Advertiser she thought her house had been hit by a bomb when a cart horse burst through her front door.

The horse had bolted with a load of coal, knocking down iron railings at the front of the house and ripping the door from its hinges.

Once inside Mrs Lawrence’s home it had kicked down a grandfather clock and a hat stand before coming to a halt halfway down the hall.  The horse escaped with only slight injuries, it was reported.

Patriotic Swindonians notched up war savings of more that £1,100,000 during 1940.
  Figures released in January revealed that the thrifty town residents had invested £5,570 in National Savings Certificates; £2,640 in Defence Bonds; £2,095 in savings bonds with Post Office savings deposits amounting to £6,350.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

February 8-14, 1941

A bus ploughed through front gardens on Oxford Road and demolished a bread van when the driver lost control.  Faulty steering was blamed for the accident in which a Kingshill Co-operative Society bread van was wrecked and property at number 41 and 42 Oxford Road damaged.

The Bristol Bus Company vehicle mounted the verge before swerving across the road.  It crashed into the van, lifting it and turning it on its side.  A handcart belonging to painter and decorators Hayward bros was also damaged as the bus ploughed its way through two front gardens, destroying a front wall before smashing into the door of one house and the window of another.

Mrs J.E. Mortimer was coming down the stairs with a baby in her arms when she heard a grinding noise as the front room window crashed in and a pile of bricks and debris fell on the floor.

“I thought it was the Germans who had dropped a bomb,” she told an Advertiser reporter.

Next door Mrs Tuckwell was ill in bed when the crash occurred.  “Her daughter, Mr J. Frierly, rushed upstairs to reassure her, for the front door had been smashed in by the cloud of bricks, coping stone and fencing thrown up by the bus in its career,” reported the Advertiser.  “Mrs Tuckwell soon recovered, sufficiently however to get up and have a look at the damage.”

Although shocked, passengers on the Stratton bound bus were uninjured.  The driver of the bread van was delivering at a house further up the road when the accident occurred.

Romance was most definitely in the air this week, but Swindon sweethearts reported yet another shortage, this time, Valentine cards.  One of Swindon’s leading stationers reported they had sold their entire stock.  “If we had had them we could have sold dozens more,” a shop assistant told the Advertiser.  And it was a quiet week for weddings in Swindon.  

Local girl Sylvia Bond of Moredon Road braved the wintry weather to marry Airman Ronald Burt of Mildenhall near Marlborough at St. Mary’s, Rodbourne Cheney.

Wearing a dress of white taffeta and carrying red carnations, the bride was given away by her father.  Bridesmaid Dorothy Martin wore blue taffeta while the other attendants, Ivy Deacon and Dorothy Gleed wore dresses of mauve taffeta.

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.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

January 25-31, 1941

Swindon celebrated a first this week when William John Watkins was awarded the newly created George Medal.  The recently promoted Sergeant Watkins received the award in recognition of the extreme courage he had shown in rescuing one of his colleagues, badly injured when a torpedo struck their troopship.  Watkins was the son of Mr & Mrs E.C. Watkins of 17 The Circle, Pinehurst.  

Three sisters from Bermondsey were among thirteen elderly women accommodated at the Friends Meeting House in Eastcott Hill.  Bombed out of their London homes, the women were cared for by the Society of Friends as part of the nationwide Friends’ War Victims Relief work.

The women adapted to communal living under the care of Mrs E. Wallis, described as one of Swindon’s unknown war heroines, who was occupied seven days a week at the temporary hostel.

The three Bermondsey sisters had helped create a family atmosphere, Mrs Wallis explained, with Nellie undertaking various household duties, Louie as chief stove stoker and Jenny cooking.

The thirteen women paid 7s 6d out of their 10s pension for their board and lodging and also received an additional 5s billeting allowance which went to the Friends’ for coal and light and the upkeep of the building.

Swindon should have its first squadron of the Air Training Corps by the first week in February, Swindon’s airman MP Mr W.W. Wakefield told a packed meeting at the Town Hall.

The idea was to prepare young men who wished to enter the RAF so that they would be better able to carry out their duties when called up for service.

This new Government initiative aimed at recruiting 200 16-18 year old boys per 20,000 of the population.  Swindon looked set to easily meet its 600 target from the attendance at the Town Hall meeting where every seat was taken and boys stood around the speaker’s rostrum.

Mr Wakefield said he was confident that Swindon would be able to train at least three full squadrons with the first one up and running by February.

Forces Favourite, Anne Shelton made a guest appearance in Swindon this week.  Miss Shelton travelled down from London following a radio broadcast to join the sell out “Out of the Blue” Concert at the Savoy Cinema, held in aid of the RAF Welfare and Comforts Fund.

“The RAF Dance Orchestra, composed exclusively of stars from the country’s ‘Ace’ bands, deservedly drew hurricanes of applause by their masterly playing,” reported the Advertiser.

Also appearing were the RAF Dixie Minstrels who ‘rendered a programme of plantation and minstrel songs.’