The necessity of an equal distribution of all foodstuffs

Newbury was preparing to implement food rationing.

Meetings of the [Food Control] Committee and Sub-Committee were held on the 22nd December 1917, the 7th, 16th, 23rd, 25th, 28th and 31st of January last, and the 11th, 15th and 19th of February inst.

A meeting of Representatives of the Food Control Committee for the Borough of Newbury and the adjoining Rural Districts was held on the 21st of December, 1917, at which meeting a resolution was passed that it was desirable that a general rationing scheme for the Areas should be prepared, which was accordingly done, and approved by the Food Control Committee. At a further meeting of the Representative bodies on the 31st January last, it was resolved that steps be taken to obtain immediate official sanction of the scheme, which it was proposed should be brought into operation on the 25th March next.

Subsequently, the Divisional Commissioner having declined to approve the scheme on the ground that it was now proposed to bring in a general scheme for the whole of the South West Division, based on the London and Home Counties Food Scheme, to come into operation on the 25th March next, the Committee decided not to press forward the local scheme, but to make the necessary arrangements for bringing into operation the Divisional Scheme on the above mentioned date, and appointed a sub-committee consisting of the Mayor, Alderman Lucas, Councillor Geater, Mr Godding, and Mr Draper, with power to add to their number, to consider and take such steps as might be necessary with regard to the matter. The Committee at their meetings had also under their consideration the following matters:

1. The distribution of margarine based on the sugar card system, and the arrangement made by the sub-committee in charge of the distribution have now been effectual in preventing the assembly of any queues.

2. A fair and equal distribution of the meat supply, which presented very considerable difficulties, having regard to the quantity which the retail butchers were permitted to sell per week, and to the large numbers of people from areas outside the Borough, but who now come into Newbury for their meat supply. The difficulty has been more or less overcome by the retail butchers being permitted to supply only 3/4 lbs of meat per person per week, and on production of sugar cards, which were to be marked; it is apparent, however, that a satisfactory distribution can only be obtained by means of the introduction of rationing cards.

A Deputation of the National Union of Railwaymen, on behalf of their Society and the general working men, attended the meeting of the Committee on the 11th February last and urged upon them the necessity of an equal distribution of all foodstuffs, including cheese, and other kindred matters, which were fully discussed with the deputation, who were informed as to the exact position of the meat and margarine supplies, and assured that everything was being done by the Committee to bring about the desired end, and they expressed themselves satisfied with their interview.

The Enforcement Officer of the Committee reported from time to time upon the work undertaken by him, and prosecutions were ordered for breaches of the Orders issued by the Ministry of Food.

The Sub-committee appointed to take charge of the arrangements in connection with the rationing scheme, decided as follows:

Application forms to be delivered to every householder in the Borough, by a sufficient staff of volunteer helpers, who will at the same time bring away the application forms completed, and where necessary, assist the applicant to fill up the forms.

This to be done by the 5th March.

Each Volunteer will then apply to the Local Food Office for ration cards, for the applicants in his district, and after filling up the same, will deliver same to the Food Office for stamping.

After the ration cards are stamped, the same will be distributed to the applicants, on production of their sugar cards, at the Corn Exchange, at a date to be publicly announced: –

And have issued a public notice to the above effect; they propose to follow the same course as was adopted in 1915 for the distribution of the National Registration papers, and have approached the Education Committee for the enlistment of the services of the teaching staffs in the schools, with whose co-operation they have no doubt of being able to carry through the necessary arrangements to a successful conclusion.

Report of Food Control Committee to Newbury Borough Council meeting, 26 February 1918 (N/AC1/2/9)

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“A communal store would have destroyed any idea among the workers that the rich could get supplied at the expense of the poor”

Union members in Reading were vigilant in the cause of rationing.

Reading and District Trade Union Branch News and Notes

General Workers’ Union

The way in which members are subscribing towards the children’s entertainment is extremely gratifying, showing that our members realise that they owe something to the youngsters whose fathers are away doing their duty.

The entertainment will be held in our hall towards the end of January…

At the District Council on December 15 … Bro. J R Clynes, MP, attended to answer an adverse and critical resolution which was on the agenda on the Food Control business. After his speech, which gave a good deal of information which his critics were not possessed of previously, the resolution was lost by a large majority.

No doubt he has a very difficult task to perform, but with our knowledge of his ability and steadfast work in the interest of the workers we do not doubt that his position has and will result in benefitting us all as consumers.

As a Union we are doing all we can locally to tackle the food question here. Bros Knight and Russell have had interviews with the District Food Commissioner and the Mayor, and also have attended a Conference with the Food Control Committee and representatives of the traders, and it is hoped that with the cooperation of the people of Reading there will soon be in operation a scheme which will ensure the equal distribution of available tea, butter, margarine, and lard. It is a pity the idea of a communal store was not accepted for this scheme. It would have been an interesting experiment, and would have destroyed any idea among the workers that the rich could get supplied at the expense of the poor. However, we must all co-operate, and not fail to report any case of departure from the regulations to the Food Control Secretary.


The Reading Worker: The Official Journal of Organised Labour in Reading and District, no. 13, January 1918 (D/EX1485/10/1/1)

“The nation generally has not yet realised the gravity of the situation”

Cranbourne people were encouraged to invest their savings in the war effort.

The Sunday School was crowded on Thursday, March 8th, when Mrs. Boyce gave a very vigorous address on “Food Saving.” She said that the nation generally had not yet realised the gravity of the situation, and the necessity for the control of food. We had suffered from want of foresight on the part of the Government, not merely during the early months of the War, but during the work and self-sacrifice of us who remain in the safety of our homes.

Our Sailors and Soldiers are doing their bit. We also have to do our bit by using as sparingly as possible all commodities that are sea-borne.

Mr. Creasy after spoke on the subject of war-savings.

It may interest residents of Cranbourne to know that a National War Savings Association has been started, and up to date 134 people have joined. Anyone may join, and a card is supplied. The subscriptions are paid by buying sixpenny coupons and affixing them to the cards. When a member has 31 sixpenny coupons on his card a War Savings Certificate will then be given in exchange for the completed card.

War Savings Certificates for 15/6 may, if desired, be purchased outright. The money paid by each person is sent at once to the Treasury, London, it is in fact money lent to the Government, who in return give generous terms. For 15/6 the Government agree in five years to give one pound sterling.

All the money collected is spent on the Army and Navy to provide men, ships, guns and munitions to terminate this great war.

The more money each individual leads the Government the sooner relations and friends will return to their homes and settle down to a peaceful life once more.

Cranbourne section of Winkfield District Magazine, April 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/4)

The use of the Wash Common Recreation Ground as allotments

Newbury Borough Council was prepared to hand over a local recreation ground for vegetable growing.

Tuesday, January 16th, 1917

Cultivation of land for food production

A communication was received from the Newbury District Gardeners Mutual Improvement Association, urging the importance of utilising available land for food production purposes. The Committee desire it to be known that they would be prepared to entertain applications for the use of the Wash Common Recreation Ground as allotments, at a nominal rent, the applicants being responsible for the clearing and preparing of the ground.

Cultivation of Lands Order, 1916

A circular letter was laid before the Committee from the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries relative to the Regulation made by Order in Council under the Defence of the Realm Consolidation Act, 1914, with the object of increasing the food supplies of the country by extending the existing powers of providing land for cultivation.

By an Order made by the Board in pursuance of this Regulation, allotment authorities in urban areas are empowered to exercise on behalf of the Board the powers conferred by the Regulation, viz the taking possession of (1) unoccupied land, without the necessity of obtaining any consents; (2) occupied land, by agreement with the owner and occupier, and (3) common land, with the consent of the Board. The Board out that in exercising the powers conferred by the Order, Councils will be acting on behalf of the Board, and that no charge will fall on the local rates. The Committee considered the desirability of utilising the powers thus conferred upon the Council, and, while it would seem that the terms of the Board’s letter preclude the use of such a site as Northcroft, the Committee feel that the owner of the vacant land on the eastern side of Rockingham Road might be approached with a view to the acquiring of a portion of such land, should a demand exist for additional land for cultivation as allotments.

Distribution of Seed Potatoes

A letter from the Agricultural Organiser for Berkshire was received, asking the Council to appoint a local correspondent for the carrying out in the Borough of the scheme for the distribution of seed potatoes, as supplied through the Board of Agriculture. In view of the early date by which returns have to be presented as to any quantity of potatoes it may be desired to acquire on the special terms offered by the scheme, the Town Clerk was directed to pass on the communications which had been received to the Newbury and District Gardeners’ Mutual Improvement Association, with a suggestion that they should utilise the scheme in accordance with any local needs of which they may have knowledge.

Newbury Borough Council: Estates, Markets and Bye-laws Committee minutes (N/AC1/2/8)