Staple diet to be sure and during the war years, bread was not subject to the ration book. So, when hungry, an older generation will well remember the term ‘fill up with bread’.
It’s now 1948 and bread and flour are subject to rationing much to the dismay of the public at large. Criticism is also being levelled at the Attlee government by the leader of the conservative opposition.
Blissfully unaware of all this, I was chored to go to Mrs Sunderland’s shop in her front room in the Albert Place to fetch a loaf of bread. Easy, even for an eight year old.
My mother bought little bread during these times because having worked in a bakery she was able to bake her own bread on our large black leaded kitchen range in Bondfield Terrace. This time however, she had run out of yeast and the shop it had to be for me to get one loaf.
Into the shop and there they were on the shelf near the door – two Hagenbachs loaves of bread, one of which was just waiting to go into the basket in order to provide some much desired jam sandwiches at our house. ‘Sorry dear, but I have no bread‘ said the shopkeeper despite the fact that the product was there looking at me. She didn’t need to say that they were reserved for someone else, I guessed I could have worked that one out. Straight on then to Spencer’s shop, but not a loaf to be had.
At this point I was more than miffed with the always kindly old lady, because even as an eight year old I knew that it would mean a trip down to the shops in Mickletown.
And so, it was a truculent eight year old traipsing through the Mulberry bridge and along that path towards Main Street to bring home the bread.
Things then took a turn for the worse, whilst ambling past Mill Lane, there coming into view was the fearsome Mesher in the distance and walking in my direction. (Mesher was Methley’s own muscular juvenile delinquent, to be avoided at all costs). In desperation, I hopped into the off-licence shop near the entrance to the Jingo Nick. Fortunately for me, I had to wait while the shopkeeper served a customer with a hand pulled jug of ale.
At my turn, a lame request for a loaf of bread took long enough for me to see Mesher proceeding past the shop in the direction of the pit gates, probably looking for a few ten year olds to torture. Sneaking out of the shop without closing the door to avoid the doorbell ringing saw me heading towards the Co-op and success.
So, there I was with my unwrapped, unsliced loaf of Kworp bakery bread on the long journey back to Woodrow.
Well, she wasn’t all that grateful, in fact I had to duck to avoid the swipe that came in my direction. Perhaps it was something to do with having dropped it twice on the Mulberry footpath and that all the corners had been nibbled off!
Took a while to forgive the elderly Mrs Sunderland and it would appear that I would have supported Churchill’s claim to dispense with the rationing of bread in those post war years.
Bread was rationed from 1946 to 1948 – don’t know why, it must have been something to do with the import of wheat from the USA and shortage of shipping after the war.