Archive for the ‘Home front’ Category

Gardening with Children 1908 and 2018

August 15, 2018

Jekyll children

 

1908 and 2018 – an interesting question: How best do you involve children in gardening? This is something staff at a zoological or botanic garden are sometimes asked, because gardening can be good for wildlife, for sustainability and for your mental health.

A blog comment or email from the USA arrived at Newquay Zoo recently:

“My name is Scott. I am writing to you because as a gardening Dad with two kids I understand how important it is to spend time with them in a constructive way.”

I am fortunate to have (had) lots of fun chats with children and families whilst working in our World War Zoo Gardens wartime allotment at Newquay Zoo. Some children sneakily eat the edible stuff when I’m not there. Best of all, children often tell me about what they grow at home or in school.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2018/08/06/overheard-at-the-world-war-zoo-gardens/

How to Get Children Gardening

Back in 1908 the famous British garden writer and designer Gertrude Jekyll (rhymes with treacle) wrote a surprising book for its time called Children and Gardens. It was published by Country Life in both Britain and America.

Since reprinted and still available, you can also read a scanned Archive.org  copy here, free:

https://archive.org/stream/childrengardens00jeky

Within a decade as World War 1 ground on, as most of the younger gardeners were called up on active service, these same British children would be encouraged at home and school to grow their own  food. The German U-boat submarine blockades seriously hit the import of food to Britain by merchant shipping.  Bad harvests were recorded in 1916 / 1917, leading to food ration books being issued in Britain in 1918.

American children were also encouraged to grow food, as part of Uncle Sam’s patriotic United States Schools Garden Army, after the USA entered the war in 1917. https://blogs.loc.gov/inside_adams/2017/01/the-school-garden-army-in-the-first-world-war/

This was WW2 Dig For Victory  25 years early, as mentioned in my March 2013 blogpost on Herbert Cowley, an injured WW1 gardening writer who was a friend and photographer to Gertrude Jekyll:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/dig-for-victory-1917-world-war-1-style-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-and-the-fortunate-herbert-cowley-1885-1967/

Gertrude Jekyll in 1908 had some interesting ideas about giving children ownership and pride in their gardens:

childrengardens00jeky_0039

Staking your territory and naming it in plants.

I hope Gertrude Jekyll’s book encouraged at least a few parents of  posh Edwardian children to let them get a little bit dirty, wear practical working clothes and grow some food in real dirt.

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It might have given them a tiny but valuable appreciation of the manual toil of the working classes around the world who put food on their tables.

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From Children and Gardens … almost a feel or  look of Heligan gardens before that garden went quietly to sleep after WW1.

Hopefully some Edwardian children had some muddy, spud eating fun growing up, because of Gertrude Jekyll’s 1908 book.

Dyb Dyb Dig!

It is also interesting to note that the Baden Powell Scout Movement came into being around this time (1907/8), quickly followed by the Guides (191)) for the kind of girls who had already cleverly highjacked or gatecrashed their brothers’ opportunities to set up scout troops.

http://www.scoutsrecords.org/explore.php?dil=&icerik=80&bparent=CB6FCCF1AB7A8F1765FC3A9D09C9ACAE&

Girl Guides can be seen market gardening in 1917 here in this IWM image Q 108289 : https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205087807

Interesting IWM WW1 Centenary article:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/10-ways-children-took-part-in-the-first-world-war

CHILDREN ON THE HOME FRONT 1914-1918

WW1 school girls  involved in gardening –  IWM image Q31135

CHILDREN ON THE HOME FRONT 1914-1918 © IWM (Q 31155)

CHILDREN ON THE HOME FRONT 1914-1918

IWM Q31153 Horace Nicholls’ WW1  photo of British Schoolgirls growing food. 

CHILDREN ON THE HOME FRONT 1914-1918 © IWM (Q 31153)

Some photos even show air raid shocked children gardening as convalescence and therapy https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205296421

THE MEDICAL SERVICES ON THE HOME FRONT, 1914-1918

© IWM (Q 30542)

Caption: Air-raid shocked girls from the Llangattock School of Arts and Crafts, gardening their own plots at the Kitchener Heritage home for air-raid shocked children and educative convalescence for disabled soldiers at Chailey, Sussex. IWM Collection:  THE MEDICAL SERVICES ON THE HOME FRONT, 1914-1918 © IWM (Q 30542)

2018: It is the final year of the 1914-18 centenary. Within ten years of 1908, plenty of the young boys shown in Gertrude’s book would have been in khaki uniform and have had a very different experience of digging and mud than you could ever wish for anyone.

Some of the girls could have ended up working the land in the WW1 version of Land Girls, growing herbs or nursing for the same war effort.

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As the book was reprinted in 1933, some  photographs appear to have been retaken orupdated,  as I have seen some charmingly relaxed 1930s/ 1940s versions of my parent’s generation.

These 1908 pictures of children in the garden are surreal, whimsical, reminiscent of E. Nesbit and The Secret Garden, Cottingley fairies, Beatrix Potter and Alice in Wonderland.

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Some garden sandpit, this one!

childrengardens00jeky_0158 in the sand pit

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This is in part an improving, natural history book, practically written advice to children and written for children (and parents) to read.
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There is a whole chapter on Gertrude Jekyll’s cats sunning themselves in the garden, a hundred years before Youtube and The Internet was invented to show cute cat videos.

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Lots of personal childhood experiences in Gertrude’s book.

Most important is a patch of ground that a child can call its own to play, dig  or grow stuff. Modern urban British back gardens tend to be far too tiny.

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Gardening advice, Boy’s Own Paper August 1940 – I’m not sure children would be allowed to mess around with Derris Dust today!

Dig for Victory gardens (or Victory Gardens in the USA) in WW2 were important ways to feed the family and involve schools and children in the war effort.

Popular monthly children’s magazines would have gardening articles by famous gardening authors:  https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/gardening-and-garden-centres-for-growing-wartime-boys-tomboys-and-garden-gnomes-“go-to-it-lads”-the-boy’s-own-paper-august-1940/

 

Scott’s email 2018

1908 / 1918 / / 1940 / 2018: I was reminded of all this Children and Gardens material when I received an interesting email from a fellow blogger in the USA:

“My name is Scott and I am writing to you because as a gardening Dad with two kids I understand how important it is to spend time with them in a constructive way. This seems particularly important today as kids would rather spend their time watching Disney Channel or playing video games when given a choice between TV and playing outside.”

I’m sure the Wild Network movement would agree with Scott about the threat of us all becoming a nation of “glassy eyed zombies” on I-pads and I-phones, or as my 1970s childhood version, “square eyed”.  However, before anyone complains,  video games and cartoons have their place in life.

Scott at the Architypes blog continues:

“Now as a blogger I have combined my experience with gardening and kids to create a helpful guide to prove that with a little creativity you can get kids excited about gardening.

You can see Scott’s ideas here: https://www.architypes.net/gardening/kids/

Scott came across World War Zoo gardens through our blog post  https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/category/vegetable-gardening/page/4/ while doing some research and thought you might be interested in some of his ideas.

“Perhaps you could mention it on your blog or links page. Please let me know what you think, it would be great to work with you. Thanks for your time, Scott.”

There is some good advice from Scott in his article that I’m sure Gertrude Jekyll and the 1940s Dig For Victory gardeners would approve of.

Thankfully there are today some good books and websites on involving children with gardens, both in school, home and the community. Here are a few more websites from the UK, Australia and America, once you have read through Scott’s ideas:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/gardening_with_children/

https://www.rhs.org.uk/education-learning/gardening-children-schools

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/gardening-for-children

https://kidsgardening.org/

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/children

As the modern Gerturde Jekyll of gardening TV today, Alan Titchmarsh, would say: “Whatever the Weather, Enjoy Your Garden!”

childrengardens00jeky_0171 paired children

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, August  2018.

 

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Our contribution to the UK-wide “Ribbon of Poppies”, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, July 2018. This is where I start singing from our old school hymnbook Pete Seeger’s 1950s / 1960s protest song “Where have all the flowers gone?” 

Growing vegetables above and under ground – a strange wartime connection

May 8, 2018

 

 

messynessy underground growing

screenshot from Messy Nessy’s blog piece on Growing Underground 

Interesting blog post on the Messy Nessy Chic travel blog website about Growing Underground, a novel use for London’s old deep air raid shelters from WW2.

 

http://www.messynessychic.com/2014/02/11/london-has-a-subterranean-veggie-farm-in-an-abandoned-wwii-bunker/

messy nessy growing underground 2

The blog post about reusing London ‘Deep Shelters’ as  hydroponic salad farms also shows several  interesting archive photos of their original air raid use by civilians.

https://www.facebook.com/growingunderground

http://growing-underground.com/

Billed as Zero Carbon Food, the underground London project cuts down on food miles and ‘plot to plate’ food minutes, but they are not quite as close to their consumers as our tiny zoo allotment to its animal customers here at Newquay Zoo. Admittedly they have 2.5 acres underground in London, we have a postage stamp tiny plot of a few metres as a display garden on a once scraggy old lawn edge near our Lion House.   Jersey Zoo (Durrell Wildlife Trust) has also used an adjacent market garden for many years.

This Growing Underground idea reminds me of the Verticrop hydroponic experiment hosted at Paignton Zoo  c. 2008/2009 for a couple of years during a fascinating trial period. An innovative way  for growing fresh salad on site for the zoo animals?

https://www.bgci.org/resources/article/0784/

http://www.cityfarmer.info/2009/11/20/time-magazine-names-valcents-vertical-farming-technology-one-of-top-50-best-innovations-of-2009/

Verticrop (by Valcent) was put in experimental place at our sister zoo, Paignton Zoo in 2009 around the same time our above-ground World War Zoo garden allotment was set up here at Newquay Zoo.

I think I prefer to garden above ground and I have just planted the next lot of Ladybird poppies (for The Ribbon of Poppies Initiative). I’ve also planted  more leek seedlings, cabbage, broad beans and  rainbow chard to replace the snow and ice damage of February and March 2018. The planting areas are filling up nicely.

Maybe gardening underground you don’t get the peacocks and pigeons alongside snails as a plant eating ‘pest’ that I have to withstand here at the Zoo.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2018/04/11/part-of-the-worldwide-ribbon-of-poppies-planted-at-newquay-zoo-for-the-ww1-centenary/

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World War Zoo Garden planting areas, Newquay Zoo – after the snow and ice of the Beast from the East, March 2018, not much survived except colourful Rainbow or Rhubarb Chard. 

 

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Looking leafier – May 2018 after replanting 

 

 

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Poppy seedlings coming through, Ladybird poppy flower heads forming. Our part of the Ribbon Of Poppies for Armistice 1918 / 2018 is now in parts growing well. 

 

However and wherever you garden, enjoy your day and your garden!

Blog posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo, 8 May 2018.

 

 

7 March 1918 air raids on London

March 7, 2018

Continuing the story of the WW1 air raids on London from an unpublished diary:

7 March 1918: Air Raid at 11.20. In bed.
It looks like Edith Spencer, London clerk and one of the many women who were given working opportunities during WW1, was often back in the family home in a now demolished Manse in Watford each night.

You can read more about Edith and see her diary entries  here:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/the-first-blitz-on-london-from-an-unpublished-ww1-diary/

This daily commute to and from Watford may have been a clever move by Edith to avoid the London air raids  as she missed the threat of injury in the air raid undertaken by 3 ‘Giants’, large German bomber airplanes that replaced the Zeppelin airship bombers. 2 other Giants raided other coastal areas.

WW1 air raid expert Ian Castle records the activities of the night here on his excellent website: http://www.iancastlezeppelin.co.uk/78-mar-1918/4594233236.

This 7 – 8 March 1918 raid  left 23 killed, 39 injured in the St. John’s Wood and Clapham Common area. A single 1000 kilogram bomb at Maida Vale was responsible for 12 of those killed and 33 injured. Damage to property in 1914 prices was £42,655.

 

KeepTheHomeFiresBurning1915

(Wikipedia image source)

 

One of those killed on 7 /8 March 2018 was an American, the first American citizen to be killed in an air raid on Britain, a lyricist called Lena Ford who wrote the words for Ivor Novello’s First World War wartime hit song “Keep the Home Fires Burning”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lena_Guilbert_Ford

An imaginative but  fact based retelling or reconstruction of the events of the 7 / 8  March 1918 raid by Julian Futter can be found here:

https://www.crescentgarden.co.uk/history/

This area featured by Julian Futter is not that far south from Regents Park and London Zoo, so you can imagine the impact that aerial bombing, the barking of nearby Anti Aircraft guns or ‘Archies’  and searchlights would have had on some of the more sensitive animals by day or night.

Special precautions had already been put in place to counter air raid damage in the form of First Aid posts and special reinforcement or coverings for the enclosures of poisonous animals such as in the reptile house.

Remembering all those affected or involved in the air raid of 7-8 March 1918 on its 100th anniversary. 

Blogposted (scheduled post) by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, 7 March 2018

 

 

 

6 February 2018 Centenary of British women gaining the vote

February 6, 2018

 

 

military miss PC

An irreverent comic postcard view of women’s contribution in WW1 to the war effort (Author’s collection) https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/the-military-miss-ww1/

 

The focus of the First World War centenary partnership for 1918 / 2018 is the contribution that women played in the First World War.

 

http://www.1914.org/news/womenswork100-at-the-first-world-war-centenary-partnership/

Their work in wartime was partly what finally made Parliament agree to give some British women (over 30) and men over 21 the vote.

Tuesday 6 February 2018 is the centenary of women being granted the vote for the first time in Britain.
The Representation of People Act 1918 was an important law because it allowed women to vote for the very first time. It also allowed all men over the age of 21 to vote too.
This act was the first to include practically all men in the political system and began the inclusion of women, extending the franchise by 5.6 million men and 8.4 million women.
The contribution made during World War One by men and women who didn’t have the right to even vote was an important reason for the law changing.
In 1918, the Representation of the People Act was passed on 6 February 1918 and women voted in the general election for the very first time on 14th December 1918 that year.
“Women over 30 years old received the vote if they were either a member or married to a member of the Local Government Register, a property owner, or a graduate voting in a University constituency.” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representation_of_the_People_Act_1918

Researching this in a local Cornish village a few miles away from Newquay Zoo, I noticed that the outbreak of war in 1914 saw the suspension of what was becoming a violent political nationwide campaign of ‘domestic terrorism’ (sabotage, arson, breaking windows), arrest, force-feeding and release under the Cat and Mouse Act. Kew Gardens suffered its tea room being burnt down by militant Suffragettes.

https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2018/02/06/devoran-suffragettes-wspu-1914/

The headline grabbing WSPU publicity campaign of window breaking was dropped so that women could contribute to the war effort, filling many men’s jobs to free them up for the forces.

Women found themselves working as keepers in zoos like Miss Saunders or Evelyn Cheeseman, gardeners in botanic gardens such as Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, clerks like Edith Spencer (in our previous WW1 air raid posts) and a whole host of new jobs.

Miss Saunders working at London Zoo is pictured at http://blog.maryevans.com/2013/04/london-zoo-at-war.html

cwgc-qmaac-front

A whole host of jobs opened up from dangerous munitions work to nursing and ambulance driving. A surprisingly large number of women were killed working on the Home Front, serving overseas and by the Flu epidemic of 1918 / 1919.

https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2017/07/27/tending-war-graves-in-foreign-fields/

Fittingly there will be a year long focus on the role women played in World War 1, culminating in some women being able to vote in the December 1918 for the first time and also be elected as MPS.

https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/12-things-you-didnt-know-about-women-in-the-first-world-war

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project (Newquay Zoo) on Tuesday 6 February 2018, the centenary of women being granted the vote for the first time in Britain.

Material also crossposted from the Devoran War Memorial Project Cornwall.

 

 

 

 

Journal articles about World War Zoo Gardens

October 2, 2017

 

Some lovely online journal links to the World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo 

 

BGEN web article https://bgen.org.uk/resources/free/using-the-garden-ghosts-of-your-wartime-or-historic-past/

 

BGCI Roots journal https://www.bgci.org/files/Worldwide/Education/Roots_PDFs/Roots%207.1.pdf  

 

ABWAK Keepers journal March 2014 https://abwak.org/uploads/PDF%20documents/RATEL%20PDFs/RATEL_March_2014.pdf 

 

IZE journal no. 50 2014 http://izea.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/1.-FULL-IZE-Journal-2014-FINAL-.pdf 

 

World War Zoo Gardens Blog https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/   

 

You’re already here! Published since 2009, including centenary posts on the centenary anniversary of each zoo staff or zoo gardener, botanic gardener, gardener, naturalist and associated trades that we are aware of as having been killed in WW1 or WW2.

 

Twitter https://twitter.com/worldwarzoo1939

 

 

The original Dig For Victory Teachers Pack from the Royal Parks / Imperial War Musuem 2008 allotment project

 

http://www.carrickfergusinbloom.org/DFVTeachersPack.pdf

 

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Monday 2nd October 2017

 

 

 

1940s WW2 Farming advert

August 21, 2017

fordson advert

Goodbye Horse power, welcome to mechanised farming in the drive for more home grown food security … WW2 era farming advert from The Countryman, 1940s, in our World War Zoo Gardens collection

May 1917 Eat Less Bread by Royal Proclamation

May 9, 2017

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A Royal Proclamation May 1917 (document  from our wartime collection) 

2 May 1917  a message from the King George R I (George the Fifth) “to be read out in churches and chapels … for four four successive weeks” encouraging “abstention from all unnecessary consumption of grain”

“to practice the greatest economy and frugality in the use of every species of grain”

“to reduce the consumption of bread in their respective families by at least one fourth”

“to abstain from the use of flour in pastry”

“all those who keep horses to abandon the practice of feeding the same on oats and other grain”

Bad harvests and a German submarine blockade was affecting food supplies, followed by food rationing a year later.

Taken from a research blog on a Cornish village war memorial that I have been helping with: https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/life-in-wartime-devoran-in-world-war-1/

Further information about these shortages and dig for victory in the First World War on this, my other research blog

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/dig-for-victory-1917-world-war-1-style-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-and-the-fortunate-herbert-cowley-1885-1967/

Remember -Eat Less Bread!

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/02/23/466956650/save-the-fleet-eat-less-wheat-the-patriotic-history-of-ditching-bread

 

Homeland, Britain March 1917

March 22, 2017

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Percy Izzard, Homeland: A Book of Country Days (1918)

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As a follow up to yesterday’s post on Homeland, Percy Izzard’s book of nature writing on the British countryside during the First World War, here are several more daily entries. A book well worth tracking down second-hand.

 

Some deal with the changing agricultural landscape, such as noticing (March 28th 1917) that “It is interesting to see how quickly the birds have become accustomed  to the motor plough. The strange form and immense noise of the machine …” 

 

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March 25th (1917) “And although the flowers were few when you think what this day has seen in other years, never did they open to a world readier to welcome them”

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welcome to a world weary not only of the long winter, but also the war?

 

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British farming and the countryside was facing difficulties by 1917 from poor harvests and the call up of male farm workers. Add to this the demands of feeding several armies overseas. From early  in the year, the unrestricted submarine warfare of the German U boat blockade of Britain increased the sinking of merchant shipping bound for  Britain with imported food from around the Empire and world.

These were pre-war cheap and plentiful food imports that we had come to rely on, much to the detriment of pre-war British farming.

Both rationing (1918) and a form of WW2 style Dig For Victory in 1917 were eventually organised  in Britain in WW1.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/dig-for-victory-1917-world-war-1-style-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-and-the-fortunate-herbert-cowley-1885-1967/

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/country-life-1986-article-on-ww1-wartime-gardening/

We will feature more from Homeland by Percy Izzard in late March / early April 2017, when the quiet world of nature in Britain that he works hard to convey  can be read 100 years on as (directly ? deliberately?) at odds  with events overseas, the Battle of Arras (9 April to 16 May 1917) in France.

This  battle would involve many of Izzard’s audience of  “soldier lads” who read his daily nature column in the Daily Mail in the trenches. Forming a valuable bit of escapism, these short daily columns would be adapted and edited to become his book Homeland: A Year Of Country Days in mid 1918.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Arras_(1917)

The Battle of Arras would see the deaths on active service of several of the zoo staff, botanic gardens staff and  naturalists that we have been researching through the World War  Zoo Gardens project.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo.

 

The Silvertown Explosion London 19 January 1917

January 19, 2017

WW1 diarist Edith Spencer recorded in her diary for 19 /20 January 1917:

Terrific explosion at Silverton.

She had recently arrived back from visiting family in Newcastle upon Tyne (‘luggage came’) to her new clerical job at 24 Bishopsgate in London, filing and learning shorthand for the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society. No doubt she had filled  a post made free by the call up or conscription of young men for war work or the armed services.

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The Silvertown explosion occurred in Silvertown in West Ham, Essex, (now Greater London) on Friday, 19 January 1917 at 6.52 pm.

The blast occurred at a munitions factory that was manufacturing explosives for Britain’s war effort.

Approximately 50 long tons (50 tonnes) of trinitrotoluene (TNT) exploded.

73 people were killed and 400 injured, as well as causing substantial damage to hundreds of houses across the local area.

Remembering the many men and women war worker casualties of the Silvertown TNT factory explosion. 

The blast could be heard and felt up to a hundred miles away.

The animals at London Zoo a few miles away would clearly have heard it.

The panes of glass in the greenhouses at Kew Gardens would have rattled.

So even if Edith Spencer had travelled back from her new clerical job in London and reached the family home at Wesley Manse, Derby Road  in Watford about 17 miles away, she could clearly have heard the Silvertown explosion.

You  can read more about and by Edith Spencer, one of the diarists in my personal collection of wartime diaries on loan to the World War Zoo Gardens project, at this previous Zeppelin WWI air raid blogpost https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/the-first-blitz-on-london-from-an-unpublished-ww1-diary/

More about the explosion at:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silvertown_explosion

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo.

Elsie Widdowson and WW2 rationing

August 18, 2016

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World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

It’s August. The schools are on 2016 holiday break and Newquay Zoo is lovely and busy with families. http://www.newquayzoo.org.uk/

I am also lovely and busy, preparing, repairing and refreshing schools and college workshop materials for September.

For the new City and Guilds 2016 syllabus  on animal managment delivered at  Newquay Zoo and Cornwall College Newquay,  I have been preparing new sessions for my new 16-19 year old students on animal feeding and nutrition.

https://www.cornwall.ac.uk/campus/cornwall-college-newquay

http://www.newquayzoo.org.uk/education-clubs/cornwall-college

One of the challenging new elements is a bit of biochemistry (and it’s a long time since I did my O levels!)

In the course of finding simple enough ways for me to understand and explain the new nutrition bits such as the  chemical structure of amino acids, protein bonds and suchlike,  I came across this great BBC clip on Elsie Widdowson from CBBC’s Absolute Genius team Dick and Dom:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/clips/zf9rkqt

Dr. Elsie  Who?

I feel I should know the name, as I have been looking at wartime gardening and rationing since 2009 as part of the World War Zoo gardens project workshops for schools.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/world-war-zoo-gardens-workshops-for-schools-at-newquay-zoo/

 

Elsie_Widdowson

Reading the story brought back very vague memories of this story being noted in passing in histories of food in wartime, rationing and gardening.

So who was Elsie Widdowson?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elsie_Widdowson

A trip to the kitchens at King’s College Hospital, London, brought her into contact with Professor Robert McCance, who was carrying out research into the best diets for people with diabetes. The two bonded and started on a research partnership that was to span 60 years.

They studied the effect poor nutrition has in adulthood and their book The Chemical Composition of Foods, published in 1940, became the “bible” on which modern nutritional thinking is founded.

Soon after the war started, she and Prof McCance lived for weeks in the Lake District eating the diet which they thought the British should consume during World War II to maintain basic health.They also cycled round Cambridge to study the importance of energy expenditure on diet. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6228307.stm)

There’s a new volume for the World War Zoo gardening bookshelf – The Chemical Composition of Foods, published in 1940 – and the 7th edition (2014 version) is still in print on Amazon from the Food Standards agency today.

World War Zoo Children evacuation suitcase & garden items Oct 09 018

Delabole Co-op and Camelford stores in Cornwall for meat, registered with Haddy’s for other rationed items, (is Haddy’s still going?) this well used (light brown adult RB1) Ration Book from Cornwall is part of our wartime life collection (copyright: World war Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo).

Widdowson and McCance headed the first mandated addition of vitamins and mineral to food. Their work began in the early 1940s, when calcium was added to bread.  They were also responsible for formulating the wartime rationing of Britain during World War II. (Elsie Widdowson’s Wikipedia entry)

Elsie Widdowson, wartime rationing star and Mother of the modern loaf as this BBC report named her – that’s one to chew on when you’re eating your lunchtime sarnies!

Elsie Widdowson and her scientific partner, Robert McCance, oversaw the first compulsory addition of a substance to food in the early 1940s, when calcium was introduced to bread. They were also responsible for formulating war-time rationing – some experts say that under their diet of mainly bread, vegetables and potatoes, that was when Britain was at its healthiest.(http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6228307.stm)

A biography  of sorts exists – McCance and Widdowson: A Scientific Partnership of 60 Years, 1933-93  A Commemorative Volume about Robert McCance CBE, FRS and Elsie May Widdowson CBE, FRS   published / edited by  Margaret Ashwell in 1993.

Interesting medical history blog entry by Laura Dawes about early  wartime food security concerns in Britain with a brilliant wartime photograph of McCance and Widdowson:


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