The quality and price of “Government Beer”

The Dodeka Club talked about various matters to do with food and drink. The members were mostly associated with a local Congregational Church, hence the reference to some being deacons, who held a position of some responsibility. The government had just introduced legislation weakening the strength of beer, while increasing taxes on it.

The 287th meeting of the Dodeka was held at Penfold’s on Nov 2nd 1917.

In the early part of the evening some considerable amount of discussion took place with regard to the quality and price of “Government Beer”. The secretary notices that the Deacon members took an animated part, and it was finally described as “Arms & Legs”.

Despite the restrictions of the Food Controller and other difficulties, the host provided very excellent refreshments…

The host having stated that sufficient notice of the meeting had not been given for him to provide a paper, a discussion took place regarding Government Methods, more particularly with regard to the Sugar Ration.

Dodeka Book Club minutes (D/EX2160/1/3)

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“Everything getting most scandalously dear”

William Hallam was shocked by the latest price rises, but was still patriotically investing in war savings certificates.

15th September 1917

Fine to-day again. Worked till 5. To-night after tea and I had washed, shaved and changed I went down to the Frome Hotel and got 2 pints of ale 1/= then along Bath Rd, bought a W.S.C. 15/6, then walked along looking in the shop windows. B[ough]t an oz of Red Bell tobaccos 6d. and a box of matches 1½d. Everything getting most scandalously dear. Coming back I went into Bath Rd reading room till ½ past 8. Very dark coming home. To bed at 10.

Diary of William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25)

No potatoes and poor quality beer

Shortages were beginning to bite for William Hallam in Swindon.

14th April 1917

All the greengrocers shops had notices up “No potatoes”. So we shall have to do without this Sunday. After tea I went along to Bath Rd Reading Room till nearly 8. Beer and stout is now 6d a pint and poor stuff at that price but I got some to-night for supper.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/26)

We all need so much help in this troublous time

The vicar of Maidenhead St Luke urged parishioners to commit themselves to God, with the usual Lent self-denial double by the nation’s needs.

Dear Friends and Parishioners, –

The Lenten Season calls us as Church-people to make sacrifices, even of innocent pleasures, so that we may by self-discipline train ourselves to be soldiers of Jesus Christ. The Nation this Spring reinforces the call of the Church. Let us each make up our mind to forego some luxury or pleasure, young and old alike. One may give up sugar, another beer or whiskey, another tobacco, another dancing, another perhaps entertainments. All of these seem trivial things, but I suppose little things are harder to forego than great… And prayer and worship are called for…

May I ask all who can do so – and many can find time if they try – to come to one or other week-day Service, as a definite act of trust in God, Whose help we all need so much in this troublous time, both for ourselves, and for those we love in hardship and danger overseas. We have only arranged three special Services for Men at present, on account of the stress of the war. I hope they will be well attended. The Friday-afternoon services will, we trust, meet specially the needs of the older members of the congregation, to whom darkness is an obstacle. The Wednesday-night Services at 8, and the Friday War Intercession at 7 will, I earnestly hope, be made use of by very many.

If any require an object for their self-denial, I can suggest two: first a Church one – the Free Will Offering Fund, which much needs new members; secondly a State one – War Saving Certificates…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar

C.E.M. FRY

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

Beer and bottled water to be in short supply

Sydney Spencer underwent training in gas exposure, while Florence Vansittart Neale was shocked by the amount of items to be restricted.

Sydney Spencer of Cookham
Feb 22

I go through chlorine gas for first time (in a P.H. helmet).

Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey
22 February 1917

Large contingent of nurses & MOs from Cliveden. Saw everything & had tea in hall. Came at 3, left 5.30….

Good speech by E. Carson on submarine menace – very serious, but hope it will get [illegible].

Importations of timber, apples, tomatoes, raw fruits, tea, restricted, meat, paper, wines, silks, only 10,000,000 barrels of beer – spirits also restricted, aerated water and table water.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer of Cookham (D/EX801/12); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

German prisoners say we (English) do not know what shelling is!

Food shortages were a problem for both sides, as blockades of shipping limited imports, and labourers fought rather than brining in crops. In Germany, the problem was serious enough to result in food riots.

26 January 1917

Miss Buck says her friend just from Germany says in Berlin riots 1000 killed! Will Howard says German prisoners say we (English) do not know what shelling is! (Ours so much more awful.)

No pheasants to be fed or reared.

Spirits & beer restricted.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

That dread word “missing”

Broad Street Church in Reading continued to care about its men who had gone to war.

November 1915

We desire also to express our sympathy with the relatives and friends of our brother, Trooper G P Lewis, of the Royal Berks Yeomanry. Mr Lewis has been a member of our church for some years. He was one of the first to respond to the call of his country in August 1914. He has been reported “missing” in the Dardanelles, for some weeks. We can imagine what that dread word “missing” means to his loved ones, and we tender them our affectionate sympathy.

News reached Reading a few days ago that Private Reginald S Woolley, son of our friends Mr and Mrs W A Woolley, 85 Oxford Road, had been seriously wounded “somewhere in France”. It is a pleasure to be able to report that our young friend is now making good progress towards recovery, and hopes before long to be home on sick leave. We congratulate his parents upon this relief from their anxiety, and we hope that their natural desire to have their son home may soon be realised.

The call for recruits for the army and navy is sadly depleting our ranks in the Sunday School, and there is the possibility of further loss in the near future…

Talking of recruits reminds me that eight more names have been added to the church section of our Roll of Honour.
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Because we pray, a bullet may miss

As the war continued, the members of Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading renewed their prayers for their friends who had joined up. Interestingly, one detects here a little scepticism in the veracity of the legend of the Angel of Mons.

PRAYER AND SAFETY

“In Jesus’ keeping
We are safe and they”

The editor has again very kindly invited me to send him a few lines for our magazine, and whilst wondering what they should be, the above quotation from one of our well known hymns came to my mind.
The thought should be, I think, very helpful to us in these most trying days providing we do, as we might, really and truly believe it.

I take it that practically everyone connected with us is thinking of our soldiers and sailors throughout each day, and of the dangers they have been facing so long, and are facing still, and also of the lesser dangers we at home are liable to meet with from overhead, from possible invasions and in other unexpected ways.

And as we “look up” at the beginning of every new day and commend the keeping of these brave fellows – an ever-increasing number – and especially those whom we know so well, to Almighty God, and when again the darkness falls, we repeat with added earnestness the prayer to our ever watchful Father Who never slumbers nor sleeps, I do think we feel the grace and beauty of those eight words. Are we not frequently being told by men who should know that the power of prayer is indeed wonderful? And some of us would very humbly say we have not the shadow of a doubt about it. Some day we may know that because you and I prayed, a bullet missed its object by a brief inch or two and a precious life was spared.

I cannot but make just a reference to the vision of angels seen at Mons and which undoubtedly many of our men there sincerely believed aided them and discomfited their foes, but I do place entire reliance in a very much older record, “the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him and delivereth them.”

HFA

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With our fellows facing death, we can’t enjoy a summer holiday

The minister of Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading didn’t think the summer holiday season could be enjoyed as usual. His mind, like many others, was on the men at the front.

MINISTER’S JOTTINGS
August is the great holiday month. Where there are any members of the family still at school this is inevitable. But people are not feeling like holidays in the ordinary sense this year. With so many thousands of our brave fellows facing death in the trenches and thousands of others working day and night in munitions factories and the like, one hesitates to mention the word holidays….

ROLL OF HONOUR
J P Anger, 33 Bartlett’s Cottages, 38th Co. Royal Engineers
D A Bacon, 301 London Rd, 9th Batt. Leicestershires
Douglas Baker, 196 King’s Road, 4th Royal Berks
W Russell Brain, Kendrick House
Horace Beer, 6 Lynmouth Rd, Royal Flying Corps
Frank Brown, 18 Gower St, Royal Marines LI
Fred Brown, 18 Gower St, 5th Midd. Army Reserve
Albert Butt, 111 Elm Park Rd, ASC
Harry Chandler, 7 Junction Rd, 4th Royal Berks
E C E Dracup, 6 Priory Avenue, 4th Royal Berks
Arthur Dyer, 43 Edgehill St, 4th Royal Berks
Oswald Francis, Southcote Rd West, Royal Military College, Sandhurst
Norman Hancock, c/o Messrs Hedgcock & Co
W F Harper, Surbiton, RAMC
A E Hawkins, 19 Liverpool Rd, Army Ordnance Corps
Arthur Hilliard, 60 Watlington St, 4th Royal Berks
Reginald Hilliard, 60 Watlington St, RAMC
G H Keene, 6 Manchester Rd, 1st Herts Regiment
G P Lewis, 23 Jesse Terrace, Royal Berks Yeomanry
Geo. E Maggs, 92 Southampton St, 8th Royal Berks
H Nott, 127 Southampton St, Staffordshires
A C Papps, c/p Messrs Hedgcock & Co, 4th Royal Berks
R Sanders, 158 Wantage Rd, Royal Berks Yeomanry
F Ward, 13 Westfield Rd, Caversham, 6th Royal Sussex
Reginald S Woolley, 85 Oxford St, 7th Norfolk Regiment

In Memoriam
Geo. Shearwood, 323 London Rd, New Zealanders

Brotherhood Members
E G Bailey, Norfolk Rd, 4th Royal Berks
T Bishop, 71 Mount Pleasant, National Reserves
C Bucksey, 10 Coldicot St, Berks Yeomanry
J Burgess, 40 Francis St, Royal Engineers
W Barrett, 29 Cranbury Rd, National Reserves
G Cranfield, 39 George St, 4th Royal Berks
W Cox, Temple Place, RHA
H Edwards, 8 Belle Vue Rd, ASC
Edward Gooch, 12 Stanley Grove, Berks Yeomanry
Bro. Goodyear, 100 Cumberland Rd, Royal Engineers
H T Hawting, 63 Upper Crown St, Royal Scots Fusiliers
J Hunt, 190 Kensington Rd, King’s Royal Rifles
W Lay, 5 Barnstaple St, 4th Royal Berks
W Lee, 3 Essex St, ASC
B Littlewood, 56 Newport Rd, Royal Engineers
V May, 219 Southampton St
C Mills, 23 Eldon Terrace, 8th Royal Berks
H Mills, 23 Eldon Terrace, Berks Yeomanry
H J Milner, 26 St Edward’s Rd, East Surrey Regiment
Bro. Parr, Royal Engineers
M Pounds, 34 Christchurch Rd, Berks RHA
H Richardson, 536 Oxford Rd, Royal Marines
H E Rolfe, 1 Garrard Square, Berks Yeomanry
C Smith, 116 Elgar Rd, 5th Royal Berks
W E White, 20 Highgrove Terrace, Royal Marines

Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, August 1915 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Skimmed milk and margarine are excellent

Cranbourne churchgoers were treated to some cookery advice in straitened times, in the guise of a fictional letter writer, who recommended the novelties of skimmed milk and margarine.

BRITISH RED CROSS SOCIETY.
It may interest some people who have kindly subscribed to the Penny Fund for the Sick and Wounded St John’s Ambulance Association and the British Red Cross Society, to know that a sum of £27 14s. 11d. has been collected at Ascot, Bracknell and Cranbourne Wards of the Winkfield Polling Districts.

We print below another instalment of Mrs Smith’s letter. –

As to soup, there are many people who run it down; but it has good value as food. I learned that from my Scotch grandmother, for the poorest Scotch people won’t do without their broth. They take it quite thick. I agree with you that thin soups are not filling at the price. But if you can get vegetables you do not need meat for soups. Take fresh vegetables of any sort, cut them up; onions must be used in plenty. Put them in a pan, and warm them up in a little dripping or margarine. In a few minutes they will take up the dripping. As the dripping disappears cover them with water and boil till the hardest of the vegetables is soft. There should be potato, which helps to thicken it. At the end stir in what milk you can spare, and serve it, thick as porridge.

I sometimes make a pea soup which is fit for a Prince. Soak the dried peas well over night. Put them in a pan with a bit of dripping, and cover with the water they were soaked in. Start them boiling, for they take a long time. Later on put in lumps of potato, carrots, turnips, onions, etc. Boil till tender, but don’t let the peas get mashed up. You should be able to see their shapes. I never put in salt and pepper till ready to serve, for then you know where you are. You can cook lentils this way. Those dried peas and beans and lentils all have something in them which makes children grow, and gives people strength to work. So they are cheap at the money, and the doctors say that they can take the place of meat. The dried beans, called haricot beans, ought to be much better known. The hunters in the Rocky Mountains, where there are no shops, carry these beans with them in sacks, and live on them for weeks, with perhaps some bacon. Now they need soaking over night. The longer the better. You would not believe the water they take up in soak. Then they are slowly boiled, with water only just covering them, letting them drink up all the water. The stewed beans may be served in many ways, with pepper, salt and butter, or with grated cheese stirred in; or made into a hash with gravy; or made into a pie with bits of boiled bacon and onion in, and pastry or potato as a lid; or eaten as a vegetable with any meat you happen to have.

As regards bread, never throw away a crumb. Teach the children to save the crusts. Little bits too small for puddings should be dried in the sun, or by the fire. Then make the children crush them with a rolling pin. Save these crumbs in a tin. They serve many purposes. You can thicken soup or stew with them, or put them in a pan with fried sausages.

Another warning is given us by some of the people who understand great questions. They say do not at the present time buy food which is prepared in other countries, not if you can possibly help it. This is to keep the money in our unfortunate England. This stops the sardines and tinned fruits. I shall miss them sadly, but we all want to help. So give the fish money to our splendid fisherman at home, such of them as the Germans have not blown up. And give the money to our poor English fruit growers and hawkers, and shops, or buy from our neighbours if we can.

Now we come to beer, a very delicate point, for if you name beer you are told you want to “rob” people of it. No one says the word “rob” when you advise them against foods, only against beer. Well, we can’t be robbed of what we give up willingly, and when the money is short I think most mothers want to buy what the children can share with them. So the beer money, or part of it, can go for little extras for us and them, for we can’t give them a taste of the beer; no really good mother wants them to begin while young.

As for milk I have asked the Doctors and they say skim milk is a very valuable food, so don’t look down on it. Unless children are very young and very thin they don’t much miss the cream which has been skimmed. Better to give them plenty of skim milk than only a taste of new milk. It makes them grow and makes their bones strong.

Margarine has got a bad name with some. This is a mistake, good margarine is excellent. I made a pie when my soldier brother was expected; only margarine in it, and all remarked on the goodness of the crust. Dripping in tins is worth buying, and keeps well. Dripping toast need not be despised.

Now we come to coals for cooking. Not much of those now-a-days. All the better for the cooking. A man cook taught me why the foreign cooking is so splendid. It is because foreigners can’t get much coal, and use wood or charcoal. This makes the cooking very slow and gives it a rich taste. Put in your pudding and put on your pot at breakfast time or as ever you like and let it do slowly. It will only want a glance now and then while you are working round.

(To be concluded in September Magazine.)

Cranbourne section of Winkfield District Monthly Magazine, August 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/8)

Spirits and beer to be heavily taxed

Florence Vansittart Neale enjoyed a visit from her daughter Elizabeth (Bubbles), nursing at Southampton. She also visited her elderly German-born friends at Stoney Ware.

30 April 1915
Bubs turned up. Miss Forrest brought her. Her brother they fear dead.

Went Stoney Ware by boat & back. Young Mr Taylor very upset.

Heard Germans fled bombarding Dunkirk – killed good many. Bubs said

36 Canadians came in last night.

Spirits, wine & beer to be heavily taxed.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Broad Street Church’s roll of honour

Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading lists its members and Sunday School alumni in active service:

ROLL OF HONOUR
Such in one of our Reading weekly papers is the style of a list reporting the names of townsmen who have joined H M Forces in defence of King and Country. Why not such a roll of those who have gone out from the families of our church and Sunday School! For a week or two a list has been affixed to the church’s notice board in the vestibule, and friends have been, and still are, invited to append the names of those unreported.

The roll at present stands thus:-
Mr Harry Chandler, 4th Royal Berks Territorials
Mr Doyglas Baker, 4th Royal Berks Territorials
Mr Ernest C. Dracup, 4th Royal Berks Territorials
Mr Papps, 4th Royal Berks Territorials
Mr A. Hilliard, 4th Royal Berks Territorials
Mr G. P. Lewis, Royal Berks Yeomanry
Mr H. Nott, Staffs
Mr Horace Beer, Royal Flying Corps, No. 2
Mr G. H. Keene, 1st Herts Territorials
Mr Fred Brown, Royal Marine Light Infantry
Mr George Shearwood, New Zealand Colonial
Mr Anger [no affiliation given]

Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, October 1914 (D/N11/12/1/14)