Archive for the ‘Wartime gardening’ Category

Ministry of Food Formed

December 22, 2016

The Ministry of Food was formed on December 22 1916. It was formed to deal with the increasing supply problems of bad harvests, an ongoing war requiring food for civilians, war workers and troops, call up of agricultural workers and horses affecting farming and merchant shipping threatened by German U-boats.

ww1 ration book

WW1 child and adult ration books from the Ministry of Food (October 1918)

The Ministry of Shipping and Ministry of Pensions were formed on the same day, the same time that a new War cabinet wad formed under the new Prime Minister David Lloyd George.

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C786

National Archives file summary:

The first Ministry of Food was established on 22 December 1916 under a Food Controller who, under the New Ministries and Secretaries Act 1916, was empowered to regulate the supply and consumption of food and take steps for encouraging food production.

The Ministry was dissolved on 31 March 1921.

“Never Mind the Food Controller, We’ll Live on Love …” was a popular gramophone and music hall song by Florrie Forde at this time.

 The Ministry of Food survived until 1921, was reformed in 1939 for WW2 and later in the 1955 became MAFF and since 2002 DEFRA.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minister_of_Food_(United_Kingdom)#Minister_of_Food_Control_.281916.E2.80.931921.29

Inside a ww1 ration book

Inside a WW1  ration book

The national food situation would become a growing concern for gardeners and garden editors like Herbert Cowley:

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/

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:

Country Life 1986 article on WW1 Wartime Gardening

August 10, 2016

country life 1

Not my usual read but these two pages are  an interesting article from a thirty year old copy of Country Life  (Jan 23, 1986) that was passed to me because of my interest in WW1 and wartime gardening.

country life 2

This is an interesting article by Audrey Le Lievre , especially for me having been involved with Kew Gardens wartime stories and also researched their staff war memorial stories. Audrey Le Lievre as a garden writer is a new name to me but wrote Miss Willmott of Warley Place: Her Life and Her Gardens (Faber, 1980).

Lots of interesting links and names for garden historians to follow up here (the Worcester Fruit and Vegetable Society?) through the online scans of garden journals. The photographs have come from the Lindley Library.

I came across  information about WW1 food shortages, rationing and dig for victory style campaigns of WW1, focussed around researching former Kewite and  garden writer Herbert Cowley. Invalided soldier gardener Cowley worked as an editor and garden writer, as garden photographer and friend of Gertrude Jekyll and at one point for Country Life.

Full circle back to Country Life there…

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More on WW1 Gardening here:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/remembering-ww1-in-zoos-and-gardens/

and also an article I wrote for a local village in Cornwall about WW1 life and food: https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/life-in-wartime-devoran-in-world-war-1/

ww1 ration book

WW1 Ration books (Author’s collection)

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Digging For Victory

August 2, 2016

dfv postcard

Fairly random WW2 photographic postcard from our World War Zoo Gardens collection entitled “Digging For Victory”, the name of the Government backed drive to encourage all from schools, scouts, workplaces, families and even zoos to grow their own food.

The back gives really not much more for information, other than the jokey family tone and the cub scout hat.  It reads “Your daft-in-law, doing his turn. Good Scout”.

dfv postcard 2

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

 

Poppies at the Zoo Wartime Garden

July 14, 2016

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Field poppies in the World War Zoo Gardens, Newquay Zoo July 2016 (Image: Mark Norris)

A busy schools week of education workshops, looking at animal enrichment and nutrition,  so I have been raiding our World War Zoo Wartime Garden for scented herbs or  enrichment scatter feed for monkeys such as edible Nasturtium flowers and leaves, globe artichokes  or colourful Ruby and Yellow Chard.

Mixed in amongst these flowers and leaves were some beautiful Field Poppies.

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

 

Download my IZEA Journal article on World War Zoo Gardens Project (2014) as a pdf.

June 28, 2016

Check out my recent article on our  World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo.in the International Zoo Educators Association  IZEA  journal, this past copy is now available in pdf download form:

http://izea.net//wp-content/uploads/2015/03/World-War-Zoo-Gardens-wartime-zoos-the-challenging-future-and-the-use-of-zoo-history-in-visitor-engagement.pdf

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

A riot of vegetable colour in Newquay Zoo’s wartime garden

May 17, 2016

chard 2016

Just a few photographs to celebrate our World War Zoo wartime garden project here at Newquay Zoo, May 2016, entering its eighth summer.

A 1940s stirrup pump lies hidden amongst the colourful  Chard and Garlic, rusty but  still in fine working order.

The gardener’s  wartime steel helmet hangs on the garden gate, ready to grab in case the air raid siren sounds …

chard stirrup pump 2016

Bright Lights, a collection of colourful Chard overwintered and ready to cut as colourful edible bouquets for enriching our monkey diets. Delicious.

chard artichoke 2016

Another year of Globe Artichokes awaits, another monkey favourite, complete with earwigs.

The strange bird table affair is not mounting for an air raid siren but where we place our portable speakers for the 2.30 Lion  talk a few yards away.

Sparrows dustbathe between the Broad bean rows. The Meerkat section Robin follows the hoe or watering can. Pesky Peacocks nibble emerging shoots.

Rosemary, Curry Plant, Thyme, Mint, Lemon Balm, Nasturtiums,  Leeks and Broad Beans  are all waiting their turn, their moment and their edible or sensory enrichment use.

Dig for Victory, Dig For Plenty and  ‘Hasten slowly’ as Mr Middleton would say. Happy Gardening!

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, 17 May 2016.

 

Alan Livingstone Ramsay died Easter Rising 24 April 1916

April 24, 2016

WW1, Ireland and The Easter Rising 1916

Alan Livingstone Ramsay, a partner in his father’s Charles Ramsay & Son, Royal Nurseries, Ballsbridge Road, Dublin:

“volunteered for service on the outbreak of war and has been gazetted a lieutenancy in the Royal Irish Regiment. He left Dublin on Christmas Eve 1914 to join the second battalion of his Regiment at the front and was last heard of at Rouen” (GC, 9 January 1915).

Although he served in France, Ramsay was to die aged 26 on active service on 24 April 1916 fighting in his home town of Dublin. He was the first Dublin-born British Army officer to die fighting the Irish rebels in the Easter Rising for Irish independence of 1916.

According to his CWGC records, he is buried in Mount Jerome cemetery in Dublin.

Catherine de Courcy’s excellent history of Dublin Zoo describes more about how the city and its Anglo-Irish institutions like the Royal Zoological Society of Ireland’s zoo fared during the uprising.

You can read more about Ramsay and his family on a JSTor archive article from the Dublin Historical Record.

http://www.jstor.org/stable/30101100?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Happy Centenary to the Inspiring Women of the W.I.

September 16, 2015

16 September 1915 is the centenary of the Women’s Institute in Britain, the anniversary of the first W.I. meeting on Anglesey in Wales.

Canny recyclers before their time! The WI did important work for the Dig For Victory and salvage campaigns. This wartime WI badge is from our wartime display, World War Zoo Gardens, Newquay Zoo.

Canny recyclers before their time! The WI did important work for the Dig For Victory and salvage campaigns. This wartime WI badge is from our wartime display, World War Zoo Gardens, Newquay Zoo.

Although the W.I. has its origins in Canada in 1897, the W.I. spread quickly throughout the First World War and the 1920s.

http://www.thewi.org.uk/centenary has a fabulous timeline well illustrated with photos.

In WW2 it became very important alongside the WVS / WRVS in food production, salvage and fundraising but most importantly, a supportive and friendly social network for women and their community in times of peace and war. This wartime role was most recently written up in the brilliantly titled book Jambusters.

Lady Denman who oversaw the food and farming efforts of the early W.I. throughout WW1 would go on to lead the Land Girls of the Women’s Land Army in WW2. A inspiring woman, to misquote the new W.I. Slogan.

As part of my work at Newquay Zoo (where the World War Zoo Gardens project allotment garden is based) I have been lucky enough to have visited and talked about the zoo and recently our wartime garden to many W.I. groups all over  Cornwall over the last 20 years.

lerryn WI

I still proudly have the poster from Lerryn W.I. probably using up old poster stock which declared that ‘Lerryn WI’ were hosting a talk about ‘Newquay Zoo by Mark Norris’ under which was printed ‘A Modern Voice for  Women’. I’ve been called many things in my time but this is a title or an accolade I feel I don’t rightly deserve! I still have the poster proudly in my scrapbook,  after years on my office wall, raising many a smile from passing staff.

I feel proud and privileged to have spent lots of time with the W.I., enjoyed their hospitality, drunk their tea, eaten the occasional cake or two, warily judged many competitions and listened to their many interesting life stories along with rousing renditions of ‘Jerusalem’.

Their care for each other, especially through ill health, advancing years and bereavement, have always been apparent to myself as a visitor listening in to their ‘business’ whilst setting up projectors and the like. Long may it continue …

Never to be underestimated or taken for granted, the W.I. Branches in some areas will be celebrating their 100th birthday, others have merged or quietly vanished as was the case in the one I researched in wartime recently.

On our sister blog looking at a Cornish village in wartime, helping to research its war memorial, I have been through the 1940s wartime newspapers for a flavour of jam making and inspiring, uplifting and useful talks in wartime:

https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/devoran-w-i-in-wartime-as-reported-in-cornish-newspapers/

Fascinating to read of the many wartime talks and fundraising efforts from just one village W.I. that  stands in for hundreds of others.

Whilst this W.I. branch may be gone but not forgotten, I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing the W.I. another happy hundred years.

Posted on behalf of the World War Zoo Gardens project

by Mark Norris, “A Modern  Voice for  Women” 🙂

The World War Zoo Gardens Project in graphic form

August 16, 2015

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

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

A few close ups of the lovely World War Zoo Garden sign / graphic (c. 2011) designed by Stewart Muir and myself (Mark Norris) at Newquay Zoo in Cornwall working with graphic designer Michelle Turton (Studio 71).

As I can’t spend all day chatting over the garden fence to visitors about this project, Stewart Muir  (Director of Living Collections – plants and animals at Living Coasts, Paignton & Newquay Zoos) thought that a simple sign should tell the recreated allotment garden’s story. We wanted a sign that would all year round, in all weathers,  tell the story behind the wartime garden project to our visitors. Its prime spot on a bashed old lawn corner next to our African Lion Enclosure means it gets lots of footfall and comment.

One design idea was to use scanned ‘evacuee tags’  (obtainable from any office supplier) for caption backgrounds.

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

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

All the images are from items in Newquay Zoo’s wartime life collection and a few from Mark’s family archive!

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

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

The allotment is a real talking point – and a smelly, tactile multi-sensory exhibit that grows valuable fresh enrichment veg, fruit, flowers and herbs for keepers to use with animals.

We wanted to pick out some of the contemporary parallels between the 1940s and the present and future – recycling, food imports  …

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

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

Rationing and resource shortages was one major stimulus to developing the wartime garden project – how did the animals survive in wartime zoos without ration books?

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

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

Fabulous pictures here (below bottom three) from a 1939 Zoo and Animal Magazine showing London Zoo and Whipsnade’s wartime preparations, (top right) my  junkshop photo / postcard find of a very well dressed and proud dig for victory garden effort ‘somewhere in Britain’ and (top left) one of my family photos with my child evacuee mum (left) haymaking in Sussex for the war effort.

Shortly after the picture was taken my mum  was strafed or machine-gunned  by a ‘tip and run’ German aircraft, surviving like the other children by diving into the haystack behind them!

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

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

The link between our wartime sister zoo at Paignton and Chessington Zoo is briefly mentioned on the Evacuation section.

An Old Maid / Happy Families Wartime card game image of a WLA Land Girl adds period detail.

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

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

Critically Endangered Sulawesi Black crested macaque monkey photographed by zoo volunteer Jackie Noble, showing him ‘podding’ and eating broad beans fresh from our wartime garden produce

(below) two baby warty piglets and mum, the world’s rarest wild pigs, Visayan Warty Pigs from the Philippines (also Critically Endangered) tucking into fresh leeks from our wartime garden allotment.

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Summarising our whole project onto seven short ‘evacuee’ tag captions was difficult.

We also use other simpler temporary A4 signs to highlight different or topical aspects of the garden, such as its memorial function for zoo staff of all nations …

A small memorial at Newquay Zoo to the many zoo keepers, families and visitors worldwide who have been affected by wartime since 1914 (Image: World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo)

The centrepiece sign amongst the flowers – A small memorial at Newquay Zoo to the many zoo keepers, families and visitors worldwide who have been affected by wartime since 1914 (Image: World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo)

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Two simple A4 trail signs placed around the zoo and in the small wartime garden plot, part of a visitor and schools trail mounted for special occasions and ‘wartime zoo’ primary school history workshops.

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.A ‘barn find’ rusting but still serviceable wartime Stirrup or fire pump (based on prewar garden sprayer designs and snapped up as wartime surplus postwar by gardeners) amid this year’s centennial poppies.

More poppies in the World War Zoo Gardens Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

More poppies in the World War Zoo Gardens Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, U

World War Zoo Gardens  Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

Getting ready for winter and 2016 planting in the World War Zoo Gardens plot, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

Some of the images and scanned objects on our graphics sign are on temporary and changing display in our Tropical House display cabinet about the wartime garden project and wartime life in both WW1 and WW2.

Display case of wartime memorabilia, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

A small selection of WW1 items on display alongside our usual WW2 material, display case, Tropical House, Newquay Zoo.

A small selection of WW1 items on display alongside our usual WW2 material, display case, Tropical House, Newquay Zoo.


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