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Transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rationing & Economies WWII and beyond

Some of the reports appearing in the Rushden Echo & Argus regarding rations.
Other reports gave information on how to be economical and to use what was to hand.

see also Rushden in Wartime

A queue for ice cream after WWII
A queue for ice cream after WWII

12th January 1940

No Coupons for Tripe - But You MUST Register Soon for Meat

The Ministry of Food is now embarking on a tremendous task of organising meat supplies for over 45,000,000 people. We are informed by the Ministry that meat imports have been very satisfactory, but that cargoes inevitably vary from time to time according to shipping facilities and convoy arrangements.

No one will quarrel with the fact that in distribution priority is given to the needs of the Services, and it is also necessary to maintain reserves against irregularities in future arrivals. There is therefore some reduction in the supplies of imported meat available for the public.

  Rationing for meat will be introduced on a date to be announced later, but in the meantime Registration for Meat must be completed by Monday, January 8th.  The public can choose any butcher they like, and the procedure is similar to the previous registration for butter, bacon and sugar.

  As in 1918 meat will be rationed on the basis of value.  The weight of the ration will therefore vary with the consumer’s choice of quality.  Every endeavour will be made in bulk distribution to suit the demands as to quality of varying localities and the Ministry hoped to arrange for retailers to sell both home-killed and imported meat at different prices.

  The rationing scheme involves the control through the meat trade of all slaughtering and at every step the trade interests concerned have been consulted. Farmers who ordinarily kill livestock for their own households will be given permits to enable them to continue this practice and the same applies to cottagers and Pig Clubs.

  Tripe, liver, hearts, kidneys, tongues, sweetbreads, etc. will not be rationed.  Nor will such products as sausages, brawn, meat-pies, galantines and meat pastes provided they conform to certain requirements as to content.

  The Ministry are very well pleased with the public’s response so far and no serious difficulties are expected at the next stage.  On the other hand, an official at the Ministry informed us yesterday, the control of meat distribution is a more complicated proceeding than the rationing of butter, and it may be some weeks from the start before the machinery is working perfectly.

  In the meantime, the meat trades and the farming community are loyally cooperating in this gigantic task. After January 15th the Ministry of Food will be responsible for the purchase of all livestock offered by farmers for slaughter and it will be in complete control of all meat supplies both home produced and imported.

  The principle of “share and share alike” is the simple justification for rationing, and the rationing of meat is a logical next step in the application of this principle to our war-time needs.

26th January, 1940

Meat Supplies for Rushden Shops 

Solitary Side of Pork Sets Problem at Distributing Centre

  After a week’s experience the official scheme for the distribution of meat at Rushden and Higham Ferrers is still imperfect, but those in control seem confident that it will soon be running smoothly.

  All the meat allotted to shops in the Wellingborough area is now slaughtered at the Rushden Co-operative Society’s large and well-appointed abattoir, and Rushden and Higham Ferrers have their own distributing centre at the premises of Mr. E. Warren, High-street, Rushden, where alterations have been carried out to provide adequate facilities.  Here the meat is apportioned by a representative buying committee comprising Messrs. R. Hollis (chairman), H. Skinner (secretary), J. James (treasurer), G. Neal and J. Mitton.  The weighing-out is performed with due regard to each firm’s requirements, and motor transport then takes the meat to 22 shops.

  The first distribution from this centre was on Thursday, January 18, and another took place on Monday, when the chief difficulty was the shortage of pork.  Only one side of pork had arrived, and it was divided between the pork butchers, the others getting none.  The fault was in the wider distributing arrangements and is not expected to recur when the Government’s scheme gets into full working order.

2nd February, 1940

The Meat Marks Time

  With due regret I have to report that the promised description of Rushden’s meat distributing centre in full swing is not yet available.  I found the place in question on Monday morning and cast a hopeful eye on several quarters of beef which were suspended aloft by means of giant hooks.  There was also a small heap of mutton bundles at one end of a very long bench, and I concluded that the butchers were soon to arrive and begin the exciting work of weighing-out.  A butcher did soon arrive, but he said that the bits of meat I saw were “nothing”; the real supplies had not yet arrived and might not arrive in time for a full blown distribution.  It was, he explained, an in between period when the supply and transport systems were awaiting the finishing touches.  The butchers would use what came along, but a full performance at the depot was not yet in prospect.  However, it may happen any day now, and when that day arrives I shall hope to be there.  In the meantime I have failed to observe any acute meat shortage in the town, and it must be assumed that, if the supplies have not exactly poured in, they have at least been trickling through.

2nd February, 1940

Co-Operators and Food Rations
Rushden Society Registers Two-Thirds of the Population - Bacon, Butter and Sugar

Two-thirds of Rushden’s population has registered with the Industrial Co-operative Society for butter, bacon and sugar, according to the society’s quarterly report, which was received at a meeting of the members on Tuesday.

9th February, 1940

Slaughter of Meat - How New System Operates at Rushden Abattoir

Meat slaughtering arrangements under the war-time scheme of centralisation are now working smoothly at Rushden.

Supplies from the Wellingborough market are consigned to Mr. Hanger, the manager at the Rushden Co-operative Society’s abattoir in Bedford-road. A staff of ten men carries out the killing, and the meat is then handed to Mr. F. Dunmore, who is responsible for its allocation to Wellingborough Urban and Rural districts, Raunds, Irthlingborough, Higham Ferrers and Rushden.

These areas have a total population of 74,000, and the weight of meat (excluding offal) supplied from the abattoir this week was 150.272lbs.

Supplies received from the Wellingborough market on Wednesday were 72 beast, 312 sheep, seven calves and 92 pigs. The pigs are included in the weight quoted above, but the other animals are reserved for next week’s distribution.

An account of how the Rushden and Higham Ferrers butchers divide their supplies has already been given, and a picture of the Newton-road buying depot appears today.

26th February 1940

Your Coal Ration - Two Hundredweights A Week

An instruction has been received this week by Mr. J. V. Quilliam (Kettering Fuel Overseer) from the Mines Department that householders are restricted to two hundredweights of coal or coke a week until further notice, and no coal or coke is to be supplied to any householder who has more than one week’s supply in stock (Two hundredweights).

In cases of serious hardship, a special licence would be given by the local Fuel Overseer. All essential institutions are to receive adequate supplies.

These instructions must be carried out by merchants and consumers, who are not to ask for general deliveries. Any contravention will be an offence under the Emergency Powers Order, concluded Mr. Quilliam.

19th July 1940

Cheap Milk is Ready Now - New Rationing Schemes and Price Variations
Preserving Vegetables

The Ministry of Food’s cheap milk scheme for mothers and children is ready to go. This scheme provides a pint of milk at 2d. a pint daily for nursing and expectant mothers, and for children under five who do not go to school, whatever the family income.

Milk is free for families where the income is not more than 40s. a week (plus an allowance of 6s. for each child). This means that a man and wife with two children under five years of age, and an income up to 52s. a week can have two pints of free milk a day. They could have three pints if the wife was expecting another baby.

There is a form to fill in, but this is understandable in a case like this where large amounts of public money are being spent and must be accounted for. You get the form from the local food office or a welfare centre, or through the district nurse.

This is what is wanted : Your name and address, and the number and ages of the children who are to get the milk. Your form must be signed by some “responsible” person such as a minister, a doctor, a magistrate or trade union official or teacher – somebody who knows you – and expectant mothers need a certificate from a doctor, midwife, or health visitor.

Margarine and Cooking Fat

Margarine and cooking fat are the next things to be rationed – starting from July 22nd.

Six ounces of butter and/or margarine a week will be allowed on the butter coupon in your ration book, beginning with No. 3. You can take all butter or all margarine, or some of each – so long as it is not more than six ounces; but both butter and margarine must be bought at the same shop.

If you are already registered for your butter ration there is nothing more to do. You will be automatically covered for margarine. If you have not registered you should do so at once. You should also fill in the particulars on the cooking fats page of your ration book at once, and register with the grocer. The grocer you choose need not be the one from whom you get your butter.

You need not take any notice of the word “dripping” on the coupon, because it will not be necessary to ration dripping or suet at present.

With your cooking fats coupon you can get 2 ozs. a week of animal or compound lard, or, if you prefer it, margarine. The margarine would be extra to any you may have bought with your butter coupon.

Tea Ration Details

Tea has been rationed. At 2 ozs. per head per week you will get roughly a quarter less than your normal supply. There is no need to register at any particular shop. Your tea coupons – like your petrol coupons – hold good anywhere.

Also, you need not use only one coupon at a time. You can use two coupons and get four ounces to last you two weeks. For the time being you will be paying the same price as you paid on July 1st.

The buff coloured page, after the sugar page in your ration book, is the one to use for tea. You may leave the whole page with your grocer if you wish, and let him tear off the coupons as he supplies you with tea.

Sugar For Bees

Beekeepers are having a special allowance of sugar from the Ministry of Food. They will get ten pounds of sugar for each colony of bees during August and September. The local food office will supply permits to all beekeepers who give “satisfactory evidence” of the number of bee colonies they possess.


From July 14 the top retail price of new potatoes dropped from 2½d to 2d a lb. This holds good until July 31, when the new potato season ends.


The Ministry of Food announces a change in sausage prices. The top wholesale and retail price of sausages filled in sheep casings and sold at not less than ten to the pound is now increased by not more than 1d. a lb. This will affect mainly chipolata and cocktail sausages.

Iced Cakes Ban

There will soon be no more iced cakes on sale in shops and restaurants. The Ministry of Food has made an order vetoing sugar being used, after August 5th 1940, for the outside of any cake, although chocolate coating may still be used.

After September 2nd 1940, it will not be possible to buy any cakes of this kind, nor will the making of candied peel and crystallised cherries be allowed. You will, however, still be able to get drained or cut peel and glace cherries.

The “days of grace” between the dates on which these orders come into operation allow bakers and confectioners to use up their icing sugar and get rid of their stocks of confectionery.


Increased prices for the main classes of fat cattle are in force from July 15th. These interim prices have been fixed after discussion with the National Farmers’ Union of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and apply for the period of 8 weeks ending September 9th. They may be reconsidered when the report of the Expert Committee which has been set up by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Secretary of State for Scotland has been received.

Salted Peas and Beans

Peas and beans are plentiful this year, and many housewives are asking how best they can preserve them for winter use. Sad to say, the bottling of vegetables by simple home methods is firmly discouraged by the Ministry of Health, who believe that the danger of food poisoning is a grave one when bottled vegetables (not fruits) are concerned. So unless you are the proud possessor of a pressure cooker you will have to turn to other methods.

Most country people are familiar with the salting down of runner beans for winter use, but it is not so widely known that the method can be adapted for peas and broad beans. For the sake of those who have not yet experimented with the idea, this is how it should be done.

The runner beans should be young and tender and can be sliced or broken into short lengths. Many people prefer the latter way, as they think it keeps the flavour more than slices.

Take an earthenware or glass jar and put a layer of salt in the bottom, then a layer of beans, and so on. Be sure each layer of beans is completely covered with salt. One pound of salt is needed to cover three to four pounds of beans. Cover the jar with paper or cloth. In a few days the salt may have sunk a little and it will be necessary to add more, as it is essential that the beans should be entirely covered. Examine them at fairly frequent intervals to ensure this. If the jar is stored on a stone floor, raise on a piece of wood.

When wanted for use the beans should be carefully removed from the salt and rinsed several times, then put to soak in cold water for about 12 hours. Cook the beans for 25-30 minutes, drain and serve as fresh runner beans.

For peas and broad beans you will need glass jars with tightly fitting lids. Put a layer of salt in the bottom of the jars, then mix the peas or the beans with more salt before packing them in the jars, as otherwise there may be air pockets between the vegetables not filled with salt. Be very careful to have a thick layer of salt on the top, and if it settles down after a week or two put more salt in. The vegetables must be soaked for at least 12 hours before using.

advert7th January 1943, transcribed by Peter Brown

This is the last week of Ration Period No. 6

If you have any current Personal Points left, they must be used this week. They will not be valid later.

The advert (right) showing sweets that were "2 points" value

Clothes rationing started 1st June 1941 and ended in March 1949.
Make–do –and-mend was encouraged with posters
Each man, woman and child had 66 clothes coupons to last a year.
Unlined mackintosh or cape
Shirt, or combinations - woollen
Other mackintoshes or raincoat,or overcoat
Shirt, or combinations - other material
Coat, or Jacket, or blazer, or like garment
Pants, or vest, or bathing costume, or child's blouse
Waistcoat, or pull-over, or cardigan, or jersey
Pair of socks or stockings
Trousers, other than corduroy
Collar, or tie, or pair of cuffs
Fustian or corduroy trousers
Two hankerchiefs
Scarf, or pair of gloves or mittens
Overalls or dungarees or like garments
Pairs of slippers or goloshes
Dressing gown or bathing-gown
Pair of boots or shoes
Nightshirt or pair of pyjamas
Pair of leggings, gaiters or spats
The Evening Telegraph, 14th March, 1949

Clothes Rationing Has Now Ended
All Off Coupons as From Tomorrow

From to-morrow morning coupons will no longer be required for the purchase of any kind of clothing or textiles. Mr. Harold Wilson, President of the Board of Trade, announced:

“I have to-day signed an order ending completely the clothes rationing system.”

Amid the cheers which greeted Mr. Wilson’s announcement were some derisory cries of “Bravo,” and “What a coincidence!” from the Opposition.

Mr. Wilson also said: “Both my two advisory committees and I are satisfied now that, taking clothing as a whole, demand and supply are in reasonable balance and in accordance with the policy I am pursuing of general relaxation of controls I have decided to take the final step.”

“My decision to get rid of rationing will not involve increasing supplies to the home market at the expense of exports, and the necessary measures to ensure the allocation of textiles required for the full export targets will remain. Nor will there be any change in our requirements of dollar raw materials as a result of this decision. The export drive in textiles must continue to be pressed with the utmost vigour. This action does not mean an abundance of clothing – indeed, some items remain in short supply in the home market – and it is no doubt a fact that higher prices resulting mainly from increases in the price of imported raw materials are themselves a restraint on buying.

“The utility clothing scheme will go on, and I am taking steps to increase the proportion of utility in certain sections of the clothing trade.


“I am sure the House would condemn any increase in prices due to selling up to the maximum where this has not previously been done.

Fair Shares

“If particular difficulties should arise I shall rely on the good sense of wholesalers and retailers to see to it that supplies are distributed fairly, and I hope to have the continued help and advice which has come to me through the advisory committees.”

Mr. Wilson estimated that there would be a direct saving of not less than 10,000 workers, of whom over 1,000 will be from Government departments and 9,000 from the textile and clothing industries and from distribution.

“This is a not unimportant contribution to our economic potential,” he said. “For all its complications, the clothes rationing scheme has served us well during the last eight years in giving fair shares all round,” he said.

2nd July, 1943

Those Unclaimed Ration Books - Late-Comers Must Go to Wellingborough

Incredible though it may seem, many Rushden people may, after all, have to go, or send, to Wellingborough for their new ration books and identity cards. Yesterday afternoon there were anything up to a thousand books and cards still waiting to be fetched, although people in the last part of the alphabet were admitted on and from Monday.

The disabled, invalids, and very old people will probably get their books, but even those should if possible send to the office in Church-street, Rushden, immediately, rather than risk delay.

Actually there will be an extension of two days or so into next week for the issue of books to Rushden residents who were unable to get in earlier. When the issue is closed, a journey to Wellingborough will be necessary, so the public affected should act on Mr. Morrison’s slogan and “Go to it!”

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 26th May, 1944, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Too Late or Too Early - Ration Book Applicants Who Go Astray

  “Attend in the mornings if possible” is good advice for Rushden people who have still to obtain their new ration books from the Food Office in Church-street.  On Monday and Tuesday the mornings were quiet and the afternoons very busy – especially on Tuesday, when as the result of an error in one of the announcements hundreds of people attended before they were due.

  The mistake affects those with initials C., D., E., F. and G. who should attend on May 26th, (from 2 p.m.), May 27th, May 30th (from 2 p.m.), May 31st and June 1st.

  On Monday 417 books were issued; on Tuesday, because of the erroneous announcement, 1,200.  For the smooth working of the scheme it is important that the various initial groups should attend neither too early nor too late.  Some of the A’s who should have called for their books on Monday, omitted to do so.

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