The Thurlows

Village News & Information

Keeping going

Identity cards and ration books had now been issued and each person had to be registered with a nominated grocer and butcher. You could only use your coupons with that person. We also had clothing and sweet coupons; and dried eggs, dried milk and spam had arrived.

The Ministry of Food had a campaign for producing more food. It was called ‘Dig for Victory’, which encouraged more people to grow their own food.

Behind The Firs, there were eight allotments. The War Agriculture Executive Committee (War Ag.) had taken over the organising of farmers to reclaim more pastureland for crops. One area was the Big Park, which was occupied by Highland cattle and horses. The bushes, small trees and scrub were pulled out with the estate traction engine and winch. A large machine used for breaking up this type of land was a Gryotiller, which ran on caterpillar tracks and was powered by a Mercedes Benz engine. A large cultivator was mounted on the back, which combed the ground with thick steel prongs and stirred it up with more blades that revolved like a giant egg whisk. Major Horn also had fields, and an almost new Fordson tractor taken over by the War Ag.

At the end of the harvest when the cornfields had been cleared, the farmers would let the people go into the wheat fields and pick up the heads of corn that had been left. We used to like to go gleaning. The best pickings were the headlands. Before the tractor and binder could go into a field, the farm men had to cut a swath wide enough for the tractor and binder. This was done using a scythe, and the corn there was tied up into sheaves. We bagged up our gleanings and took them home in our handcarts. The ears of corn were then cut from the straw, and stored up to help feed the hens in the winter months. The handcarts were made from wooden cases collected from Miss Dowsett. Most deliveries were made in wooden boxes at that time. Add an old pair of pram wheels and axle, two lengths of batten for the handles, and we were in business. The carts were also used to go ‘sticking’, collecting firewood for kindling to light the fires at home. Our favourite places were in The Walks or down The Drift.

There was also a pig club in the village that people who kept pigs in their back gardens belonged to. This was to fatten the pigs up and so help the meat ration when they were killed. The slaughter-man that came was a Mr Ransom from Burrough Green, who cycled to the villages. A large wooden tub was used for boiling water and a wooden rack on legs with handles at each end was used to put the carcass on. My uncle kept a pig, and the Ministry of Food bought half the carcass and the owner kept the other half.

I remember the nice joints of pork, when the meat had a much different flavour from the meat of today. Hams were pickled, some sweet and some done in brine. Bacon was pickled and kept. Also the fry, liver and chitlins were all fried up, which helped out with the rationing. Some people used to take their hams to Mr Rutter to hang up at the back of his bakery, wrapped in muslin bags with a name-label on and left until they were cured, usually at Christmas time.