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The British Restaurant
Where to put it?

Geisha Restaurant
The Geisha Restaurant - 93 High Street c1950s - formerly a British Restaurant

Extract from Wartime Rushden April 1943 Council Meeting

Restaurant Serial
Attempts to obtain a “second-hand wooden shed” for erection as a British Restaurant were described in the War Emergency Committee’s report. It appeared that the Divisional Food Officer had visited the town and given advice. The Surveyor had been unable to obtain a building, but was “pursuing his enquiries in other directions.”

Coun. Roe said he was very pleased to see that the restaurant had not been entirely forgotten. Now that the business had been put in the Surveyor’s hands they would probably get something definite very shortly.


The Rushden Echo & Argus, 16th July, 1943, transcribed by Gill Hollis

They’ve Even Secured the Keys!
Council Find Premises for Restaurant
Depot Plan Dropped

The High-street shop just vacated by Mr. C. F. Poole may become Rushden’s British Restaurant. The Council Clerk has secured the keys, and at Wednesday’s meeting the Urban Council approved a complete scheme for establishing the restaurant. There has been some quick work, and the enterprise can go forward at once if the Ministry of Food agrees.

The report of the War Emergency Committee, which met on June 24th and July 8th, showed that the Clerk (Mr. T. L. Watts, L.L.B.), on learning that the shop at No. 93, High-street had been vacated by Mr. C. F. Poole, obtained the keys, took steps to ensure that the premises would not be requisitioned by other authorities, and induced the Ministry of Food to earmark the building as a provisional step.

Considering the premises to be particularly suitable as regards situation, layout and condition, and that comparatively little redecoration would be necessary, the War Emergency Committee instructed the Surveyor (Mr. J. W. Lloyd) to prepare details and estimates. These showed seating accommodation for 110-120, certain structural alterations of rooms at the back, and the erection of a brick extension, also at the rear.

First Cost £1,000

It was estimated that a restaurant could be established at a cost of £1,000, including equipment, and that the annual expenditure would be £1,400 – a sum which would be reduced if voluntary assistance was forthcoming. The Ministry of Food would provide the equipment and generally make good any approved loss, on the other hand taking any surplus. Apart from this financial control the restaurant would be entirely under the control and management of the Council.

The committee recommended that the scheme be adopted and sent for the Ministry’s approval, and that, subject to this approval, tenders be invited for the adaptation and extension of the premises.

Coun. Capon said he was quite sure that not only those present, but the public in the town, would be glad to see this result.

“Sometimes,” he said, “complaint is made that we are slow in acting. I would not like to say whether or not that is always justified; certainly it is not true in this case. Our Clerk took quick action and everything is proceeding apace.

“If it goes on according to plan there is no reason why before the dark evenings come we should not meet for a feed at our own British Restaurant.”

Not Asleep

The Chairman (Coun. Weale) said the committee had not been slow, although it had sometimes been made out in certain quarters that they had been asleep. This was the first good set of premises that had come under notice, and he thought the committee were wise in taking them. The Clerk was very forward in taking steps immediately the premises became available.

No questions were asked, and the report was carried unanimously.

The Rushden Echo & Argus, 23rd July, 1943, transcribed by Gill Hollis

All of One Mind - Trades Council and The Restaurant Site

Rushden and District Trades Council, meeting on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Mr. W. Ainge, regarded it as a happy coincidence that the action of the Urban Council in securing Messrs. C. F. Poole’s premises for a British Restaurant corresponded with their own recommendation made at a meeting on June 22nd, and passed on to the Urban Council by letter.

The meeting noted with pleasure the progress already made and expressed the hope that the Ministry of Food would assist the Rushden authorities in expediting the scheme.

“The lack of control of tomatoes” was discussed, one member stating that a woman who fainted in a tomato queue was found to have 4 lbs of tomatoes already in her basket. It was agreed to ask the T.U.C. to suggest a national plan by which all persons would secure a fair share of tomatoes.

It was felt that the Trades Council should have a seat on the local Appeals Board, and the secretary (Mr. J. S. Sharp) was asked to write to the authorities concerned.

Final arrangements were made for the competition in which the Trades Council will assist at Rushden Holiday Fete, and it was stated that 44 prizes were being given.


British Restaurant
by RWN

Inside the British Restaurant
The Civic Leaders sit
With ration books beside them, and
With knife and fork in "mitt,"
When from the kitchen doorway spreads
Across the ambient air
An appetising smell of "Roast";
"Ah Bisto" says the Mayor.
And soon the Councillors have set
Upon their Yorkshire Pud;
Two GREENS, potatoes, cut from joint,
They seem to find it good,
But all at once one civic bloke
Gives forth a hollow groan,
"Say, waitress, just look at my meat,
My portion's ALL-A-BONE.
"Ah WEALE, we musn't grumble" says
His neighbour, "For it's true
Communal meals are wonderful,
And small ex-SPENCE SIR, too.
But look at Bloggs, he's moaning now,
He never can agree,
And all that fuss because he finds
No SUGAR'S in his tea."
Just then a mellow voice enquires
"Ma meat's maist fat Ah fear.
"Ah wudna fash ye, lass, but dae
Ye Mac-LEAN porrrtions here?"
One diner finds the feast too large
(The course he cannot run)
The Council Father beams and says
"I see you're BEATEN SON."
Still WARING his regalia

Up springs the worthy Mayor,
"I feel quite certain, Gentlemen,
My sanguine view you'll share.
For our first British Restaurant
Has soothed my doubts and fears
That meal was best and cheapest that
I SAW-FOR-Donkey's years."

click here for more rhymes by RWN


Extract from the Council meeting Feb 1946

Restaurant News

A report on the British Restaurant showed that 17,103 main meals were served last quarter and that the financial position was satisfactory. Mrs. Dale Wright, of Northampton, had been appointed supervisor, and attempts were being made to find another cook.

In view of staffing difficulties the War Emergency Committee turned down a proposal to serve cups of tea at the restaurant in the mornings.

Mr. Capon informed the Council that a cook had now been secured for the restaurant.

Extract from the Council meeting Feb 1947

Rushden’s Civic Café Continues
Rushden’s British Restaurant is to continue as a civic enterprise, and, according to statements made at the Urban Council’s meeting on Wednesday, has a good prospect of paying its way. A long report on British Restaurant policy as it is affected by the Government’s termination of the present financial arrangements after March 31st, was submitted by the Finance Committee.

The committee thought that on the basis of recent trading results, the restaurant should prove to be self-supporting after allowing for establishment charges and the liquidation of capital charges (£1,050) over a reasonable period.

An average of 230 meals a day were served during the last three months, and the committee felt that the service met a public demand and should continue.

The Council decided to continue the restaurant as a civic service, subject to the necessary powers being conferred by Parliament. The question of extending the range of catering has been deferred by the Finance Committee for a month.


Do you have a photo when it was the British Restaurant? We'd be pleased to add a copy;
or do you have memories of the restaurant to share with us?

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