Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Digging For Victory

During Half Term us Roses went for a ramble up to London to the Imperial War Museum (I can't believe I have never been there before), to see a wonderful exhibition "The Ministry of Food". Little Sister wanted to see the World War 11 children's exhibition, Big Sister wanted to visit the Holocaust exhibition and Cold War exhibits (she is our Modern History buff!), Mr Roses was quite happy to take it all in and I, well, I just couldn't wait to jump into all that Home Front ephemera...

We have been lucky enough to have had a really good exhibition locally about Land Giris and having just looked at the leaflet, I notice it's still on so if you get a chance it's really worth it if you're down on the coast over the next few weeks... We went to see it went it first opened last year and found it absolutely fascinating and it fuelled what was an already large interest in 1940's England. I have to admit it's not the military side of things that get me (perhaps that's why up until now I haven't 'done' the War Museum, but the social history just grabs me every time (and, moreover, those Land Girls uniforms that we got to try on are rather fetching!). What was fascinating about this exhibition was a film made featuring former Land Girls talking about their experiences and you had to notice just how remarkably well they all looked, there must be something in all that fresh air...

A few weeks later Emma (Sew Recycled) and I attended a study morning about 1940s Christmas' which we found entertaining (maybe for all the wrong reasons...) and in between our giggling and naughty schoolgirl acts we gleaned some more snippets to add to our knowledge.

So all this is a bit of a preamble I know to our visit last week but it kinds of describes the anticipation that I had been experiencing as our visit drew nearer. Of course we had to choose the busiest day ever on official records to visit the Museum (I am not joking) and the queues were seemingly endless (try and go out of the holidays if you can).
Lots and lots of photos to share and fewer words you'll be glad to read I'm sure!

So obviously at the start of the war we as a nation were encouraged to "Dig for Victory", grow your own, eat healthily etc.

At the heart of the entrance to the exhibition was a beautiful mock up 1940s greenhouse, full of the most wonderful gardening ephemera.


and posters abound ...

As the campaign to grow and eat more vegetables gathered momentum its influence was soon seen on fabrics etc

"Utility" housecoat made from gorgeous "mushroom' fabric

Delicious chair back showing Land Girl digging for victory

The oh so attractive Land Girl Uniform

Campaigns to make us eat more vegetables grew more and more playful with characters entitled Potato Pete and Dr Carrot.
The importance of women during the war came to the fore and they were encourage to play their role, signing up for National Service, becoming Land Girls, working in munitions factories and actively taking part in life on the Home Front.

Leaflets were produced by the Ministry of Information for women on the best use of rations, health and nutrition as they waged war on the Kitchen Front,

keeping the nation fit and healthy.

I could go on and on but then this post would turn into an essay... so I'll just let the photos do the talking...

A mock up of a 1940s grocer's

With ration size chocolate bars

A tea urn and cakes (perhaps we should have something of that size in our Stockroom) used in canteens and workplaces

Imagine tea being rationed!

My youngest couldn't believe that sweets had been rationed too and she read incredulously of children's accounts of going to the sweet shops after rationing had ended.

Suffice to say I could have spent all day in there!
In the "Children's War" exhibition we experienced life on the Home Front through the eyes of children. Photos and recollections of being evacuated, achingly sad letters from children sent home to their parents, examples of wartime clothes, childhood, and for me, the absolute highlight, a complete reconstruction of a 1940s home.

A three bedroom house

bathroom (my aunty had those tiles)

complete with kitchen
( well, I could have stayed in this room for hours if it were not for the queue forming behind me)

Living room (note the little toy dog by the chair Dottie!)

A bit of "Make Do and Mend" going on in here

Delicious firescreen

And an inside shelter housed in the backroom, looks frighteningly like a cage a "Morrison Shelter"

Examples of wartime ingenuity and resourcefulness in Make Do and Mend - an outfit made from cloth maps...

I could go on and on ... if you get a chance to see it, grab it with both hands and listen very carefully to all the people reminiscing around you, I learnt even more from the snippets of conversations I overheard from fellow visitors' first hand experiences of life during the Home Front. I was born just a decade after rationing finished (it lasted for fourteen years, ending in 1954) and its fascinating to see the advice of growing your own, eating healthily and the basic tenents of recycling, reducing the number of imports and the "War on Waste" are still as pertinent today,

I'm off for a word with Potato Pete and Dr Carrot... Enjoy


Lisa said...

Thank you for blogging about this. It looks like a wonderful exhibition. A definite day out for the future.
Hope all is well with the Roses.
Lisa x

Thimbleanna said...

What a fun post Kim! I LOVED the Imperial War Museum when we were in London a little over a year ago. Hubby enjoyed a fabulous 007 exhibit while I spent time in the children's war exhibit. I found it fascinating -- and so touching. It was heartbreaking to read about all the children who were sent to the states so they'd be safe -- and then, I think wasn't there a ship that sunk with children on it? Can you imagine, you think you're doing the best to save your child and then the unthinkable happens???

Thanks for reminding me of our fun day in London! Oh -- and did you see any mash posters LOL???

bellaboo said...

If we ever get to London I will definitely go there,it looks fascinating!
The house is lovely,wouldn't mind a kitchen like that...but with all the mod cons...of course!

Bellaboo :o)

Pipany said...

Wow, that was a great post Kim. Thanks for sharing it with us. So much to inspire isn't there? x

Cowboys and Custard said...

Well it looks even better in glorious technicolour Milly..
I was curious after you told me about your jaunt and looked at the Imperial War Museum website.. but your photos and descriptions have done much more to whet my appetite.
Oh to turn the clock back.. and I know there will be those that say it was difficult living through such times..but there was such style, grace and humility about war time Britain and a real sense of community. Can't be bad!
Dottie x

Simone said...

I like the make do and mend mentality and the resourcefulness and all the posters, but I am not a big fan of the 1940's era. I very much like living in the here and now but just wished that we didn't take all what we have for granted nowadays. We can learn a lot from looking back. Thank you for the Imperial War Museum trip. I went there last year and remember being fascinated by the planes and tanks especially. x

Corinne Phillips said...

What a fantastic exhibition! Thank you for sharing your photos

Jenny said...

Thank you so much for posting this. Fascinating.

meghs said...

Thank you for your lovely photos. We visited the museum when we were in the UK in 2007. We nearly cried over the children's exhibition; like you, the highlight for me was the 1940s house.I don't think that it would have been much fun in the air raid shelter cage though!

JuicyFig said...

What a wonderful exhibition! it is so pertinent to today - and if they brought back the womens land army - I would be very tempted to join!


MelMel said...

Oh I loved your post today!
I'm a huge fan of the 40's....all things wartime...I recently went to the war museam in Manchester...no way as good as the one you have been to!
Cor that 40's house is fantastic!
I love the kitchen too!x

prettyshabby said...

LOVEly post Kim,dont you just adore all that nostalgia. I bet you soaked up the atmosphere like a sponge,I'd really like to visit that museum..a lot!
I just can't imagine having tea rationed nor sweeties for that matter! Most stories I hear about the rationing years include the introduction of bananas and oranges after the war and how nobody knew that they had to be peeled..eww! We are jolly lucky to have missed all that really,as much as we love it all now times must have been bleak..
I'm basing my new summerhouse on a forties theme..digging for victory and all that (when I pull my finger out and get on with it!)

Sue said...

Thank you for posting this. i doubt I'll get down to London to see it. It is a period of history that absolutely fascinates me. I recommend the book by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall that accompanies the exhibition.

Louise said...

That looks like a great exhibition. I'd love to go, but if I don't make it, at least I've seen it here first. I am always interested in tales of wartime, so I've loved looking at your great photos and reading all the information too. No wonder my Dad always has a cup of tea on the go, he must have been under ration as a child! x

gill said...

thank you for this timely blog - i'm off to see it in a fortnight with ds1's school!!
can't wait


Ticking stripes said...

Fabulous post - certainly on this years to do list!

. said...

Beautiful things. It was a pleasure to see it.

Pea Green Kitty said...

WOW!! I LOVED this post! I am fascinated by the 1940's, thank you for the tour of the museum. I shall have to get down to London some time to see it all for myself.

Anonymous said...

Fuzzy memories of the Morrison shelter and being told to keep quiet while everyone listened for where the flying bomb had landed and after that the all clear siren.
i am amazed youwere allowed to take photgraphs at the exhibiton, I would love to be able to do that. it is ages since I wwentt o any exhibition where one was allowed to take the camera.

Anonymous said...

sorry I am the one who remembers the Morrison shelter.

picketty said...

do i get it right this time so you get my link?