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
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