Make Do And Mend

Sherborne Museum

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All | 1937 | 1938 | 1939 | 1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943 | 1944 | 1945 | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 | 1949 | 1950

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In The Home
South West
1939 - 1945

"Blankets and sheets were rationed. We were allowed three sheets and two blankets on a permit so patchwork quilts were made out of scraps and knitted squares became popular. Rag rugs were made out of strips of worn out stockings or peg rugs made from tailors sample books pegged into hessian."
Sherborne, Dorset

Joan Miller

In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"Popular Yetminster couple Kit and Harold Cheeseman, both 89, celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary today (Friday 30th). It was a chance cycle ride to Sherborne from her home at Marston Magna that led to them meeting and romance quickly blossomed. Harold worked for the then Greenham’s butchers in Sherborne and the couple enjoyed a quiet early morning wedding at West Coker. Less than a year later after war broke out Harold spent six years in the army serving with the Somerset Light Infantry, the Oxford and Bucks Regiment and after a mission to France attached to the Green Howard parachute unit found he was one of only three out of 50 to survive. During the war Kit had to leave her baby with her mother at West Coker, being called up for work at the Twine Factory at East Coker where she recalls working seven days a week from 8am – 6pm for the weekly wage of 12s 6d!
In the early 1950s the couple moved to Yetminster where they have lived ever since. Their Platinum Anniversary will be spent with their family. They have five children, 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. "

Kit and Harold Cheeseman
Kit and Harold Cheeseman of Thornford Road, Yetminster who celebrate their Platinum (70th) Wedding Anniversary today (30th Jan)
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945

"At 100 Dorothy recalled "I was the youngest of four. My father, Charles, was shepherd on the farm and when he died my oldest brother Harry took over. I remember him coming home from the First World War. I was eight when he was called up. By the time the Second World War started, Mother, Elizabeth, had a heart condition so I was exempted from war work because I had to look after her. We were lucky in the country and being on the farm we had most things that we needed. I did gloving at home. Mine were leather samples of the highest quality that were sent out to store buyers. Ours was such a small village and off of the main road so the war didn't affect us a lot. We had our garden and I made jam.""
Closworth near Yeovil

Dorothy Loveless
Lived all her life at Closworth near Yeovil, Somerset in the cottage where she was born.
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
North West
1939 - 1945

"I was at school when war broke out but I left before I had finished my education. My first job was supposed to be in a laboratory but it turned out to be making aircraft plywood. I didn't stay long! My second job was supposed to be hush-hush but turned out to be making perspex for aircraft. I didn't like it and only stayed nine days!. Then I went to work for the Canada Life Insurance Company where I did stay a little while but I wanted to work outside so I joined the Land Army. I was sent to a big house in Buckinghamshire as Under Gardener. The old gardener had retired but his two sons who took on the garden were called up and he had to come out of retirement. We dug up the tennis courts and grew potatoes and on the other courts we kept chickens. It was there I learnt to milk because they had two cows. The chauffeur/groom took on the hedging. We had plenty of vegetables and the cook was still there so we lived ok. I was 18 then. Clothing was rationed but that didn't worry me much as I wasn't very fashion conscious. When the groom was on holiday I had to learn to milk the cows and found I liked it. It was unusual for girls to like milking the cows so I was sent to the other end of Bucks where there was a much larger herd of 50 cows. I was there for several years as cow man. They had one of the early dairies - a milking parlour. I wasn't very mechanical really but they found I was very good at keeping the parlour running. Then I was sent to another herd where they had Shorthorns. Shortly afterwards they changed to real Jersey cows that had come from the Channel Islands. I liked those a lot. I used to make butter, cream and cheese for the house in small amounts but not for sale. I was in the Land Army for over ten years but I still haven't got my badge. I finally left to get married. We lived quite well during the war. Make do and Mend was what we were used to. Compared to the 1920s and 1930s life was actually better. During the recession there was real hardship. We had grown up used to having to use everything and waste nothing. Nothing was left over." Sheila continued to like her animals and kept and milked her goats until recent years."

Ted and Sheila Babbidge
nee Nash. Sheila's story. She is now 85 and living in Cheshire.
In The Home
South West
1939 - 1945

"There was no heating anywhere as coal was rationed. We had a big black range, my mother would set it in the morning before she went to work and I lit it when I got back from school – we lit it late to make it last. Sometimes you could get coke which used to burn a long time. I slept up in the attic with a candle and it was really cold. There were two bedrooms, both with fireplaces, but you only ever had a fire if you were ill."
Wimborne, Dorset

Betty Bletsoe
nee Ellis (aged 79) from Wimborne, Dorset
Food and Cooking
In The Home
South West
1939 - 1945

"You couldn't get wallpaper so my father used to distemper the walls and sometimes used to let us children sponge patterns on it in any colours we had left in the bottom of emulsion paint tins from before the war.
Mum used to give us girls some scissors on a Saturday to cut up any newspapers we had bought in the week - they were half size and not very many of them - into toilet paper for the next week. We had to thread the squares on to string that was used time and time again and hang them up on the hooks on the back of the outside toilet door. Mum used to make Butmar, she used to call it, mixing the small butter ration with any left over margarine from her cooking to make it go further. If we were running short of sugar she used carrots from the garden for sweetening and carrot cake was popular. Parsnips could also be boiled down into a paste and mixed with a little flavouring for a spread on the bread. I didn't like bread and dripping much! Dad had kept racing pigeons before the war and instead of racing them he used to breed them so we had some extra eggs and pigeon meat. They used to breed all the time so we always had extra meat for the table! Dad's Uncle kept a few bees so sometimes we were lucky and were given a jar of honey. I didn't like the lumpy bits of comb in some if it but it would have meant too much honey being lost if it had been strained to remove them."
Frome, Somerset

Gladys Neads

Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
1939 - 1945
Now both residents of Leigh Old Vicarage Care Home our interview ended as lunch was about to be served.
They asked what was on the menu and laughed when they were told it was gammon!
""We both came from farming families. Bet lived at Bailey Ridge, near Leigh, Dorset and I lived at Glanvilles Wootton"
Bet added " he used to cycle over to see me."
Reg continued " both farms were dairy, pigs and poultry. I had war time exemption to stay and help my father on the farm and my sister but my brother had to go in the army. We used to keep about five breeding sows [pigs]. Numbers were different then than now. Everyone had a few. Later on Bet's father put up the first pig sty, Danish type on top of Bailey Ridge. It was modelled after the Danish type. We kept Large whites, Saddlebacks and later Landrace Crosses. Black and whites were the better ones in those days. They were still natural then and they grazed the grass better. At 5 to 6 weeks they were called sucklers and we used to keep them on until they were ready. Breeds of pigs have changed. In the end we got round to keeping Landrace. Most were sold private.
Bet explained what happened to theirs " my father supplied Greehams the Butchers in Sherborne. They unsed to ring up when they wanted X numbers - usually up to five.
Reg said their used to be sold privately and to market sometimes.
"Everything was rationed - you used to have to sell the pig before you got the grub to feed them on!"
Bet agreed "you had to apply to the Ministry for the food. 5cwt. comes to mind but that might have been for the cows. You got so much a month for the piglet. We kept chicken too at home. - 100 pullets before we got married.
Reg said "everyone kept a few hens. We were alright for eggs. We weren't really short of anything in the war because we were both on farms and had everything we needed."
"when you killed a pig you salted it down - there were no freezers or anything like that. You had a lead brine bath - a large tray six feet long by four feet wide and about six inches deep for salting and you filled it with brine - mostly salt and some vinegar. We didn't have enough to drown it so you used to have to turn it and tip the brine over the meat."
Bet added "Mother made sausages and faggots and used all of the pigs head."
Reg laughed " the only thing wasted was the squeak!"
"It stayed a long time in the brine, I can't remember how long. You had to keep turning it to keep it covered."
Bet recalled "when you wanted to cook it you had to soak it overnight to get all of the salt out otherwise it would have been too salty to eat."
Reg recalled "My father used to do pigs and then send the meat up to London in baskets by train. The porters used to take it.""
Holnest, Dorset

Betty and Reg Coffin
Reg explained.
Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
South East
1939 - 1945

"I was living in London when war broke out and was evacuated to Devon. My first place was in Honiton but it wasn't a very nice billet. They expected me to look after their child all the time and I wasn't used to that at home where I was the youngest! My sister was evacuated too but she cried so much she only stayed a week and went home. I stayed three years. I passed my school exam and went to Axminster High School. I had been living in South West London and we went to Devon by train - all of us as a school on a whole train. We didn't know where we were going. My parents didn't know either. We went with our suitcases and were picked up by the people who had volunteered to take us in. My lady was at the station to meet us. Her husband was a Scout Master but we didn't see him very often. I think he was involved in war work and working away. I liked the countryside. My grandmother lived in the countryside and that was where I finished up eventually and went to school in Reading. I didn't find it boring or quiet. My Gran was good at turning her hand at anything. At the lady's who had us at Axminster - mother, daughter and grandchild as well - we didn't have much in the wau of eating - very poor really. The rations went to the lady of the house and she eeked it out. Clothes - can't remember much about clothes. My mother was a seamstress. I expect she made us clothes. Mum and Dad came down separately at times to see me when I was in Devon.
My Gran in Reading - now that was fun. Half of the field behind her house was the REME HQ. There was a big camp there and so we half expected to be bombed but we never were. We saw the planes going over. There was a trememndous amount of activity. I went home before the end of the war. I finished school in the December and I went home early in 1945. That was at the time when the flying bombs and rockets were coming over London. We heard the rockets coming over and this tremendous whoosh and then the bombs fell. My sister was standing next to the oven and they dropped a bomb and the front door was blown off and the house was damaged and my sister went deaf - but it was only temporary. We saw a lot of houses destroyed. It was very frightening. I went to work for George Payne - they made Payne's Poppets, the chocolates. I started from scratch. They needed a young person in the office. I had a good training from filing to computers. Then they moved down to Devon after the war. I can't remember them being short of chocolate.
Nylon stockings were scarce. We did get some but I can't remember how we used to get hold of them!"
Devon and Reading

Olive Newton

Food and Cooking
In The Home
Everyday Life
South West
South East
1937 - 1945

"I worked at Harper House, a boarding house for Sherborne School, as a sewing maid with Mr Tindall as House Master. In the 1920s he asked me to join him as House Matron at West Downs Preparatory School, Winchester, the Preparatory School for Winchester College, where he had just been appointed Head Master.
Two of my friends went with him too. West Downs was a lovely school and I enjoyed my work there. I used to come home during the holidays or sometimes went on holiday with the Tindalls to the Isle of Wight or Newquay.
When the war came we were worried about the boys.
Some of my favourite Old Boys were Peter Scott who as a boy used to come and ask.
"May can I borrow your watch?" He was always drawing as a young boy but didn't have a watch. He used to draw wildlife in the grounds during his lunch hour. We also had Angus Ogilvy and his brother. Their parents gave me a clock for looking after them so well!
Southampton was bombed and we always had bombers flying overhead. Some of the parents were worried too so Mr Tindall started looking for a safe place to move the school to. We took over Glenapp Castle in Ayrshire in South West Scotland and soon the boys started arriving. All went well at first. Their parents managed to send supplies of most things they needed and there was always something for us too. Then things changed. We found we were on the flight path for Ireland and Mr Tindall started to get worried again.
I went home for the summer holidays. It was a long train journey. I used to have a break in London and go and stay with Aunt Louisa and Uncle Zeb at Finsbury Park. Uncle Zeb was an Austrian Pastry Cook but he was interred in the Alexandra Palace in the First World War in case he was a spy! Aunt used to be allowed to visit him on Sundays. After the war they changed their name back to her maiden name, from Reinthler to Hunt, in case the same thing happened again!
I was crossing Waterloo Bridge one afternoon when there was an air raid and had to go to the nearest shelter. Some time afterwards Uncle Zeb's house was bombed and most of their road. They were re-housed close by. On my way back to Scotland Mother, Louisa's older sister, used to send up a few supplies from the country -eggs, fruit and jam- and I used to drop them off.
When we got back to Scotland we had a shock. The army had taken over Glenapp castle and with less than 48 hours before the boys were due back we had to start searching for another home for the school.
Mr Tindall spent most of the next day with the army who tried to find somewhere for the boys. Then at the last minute we learnt Blair Castle, near Blair Atholl village, in Perthshire was being made available for us. Some of us went on to the castle while others waited to collect the boys as they arrived back and see they were sent on to Blair Atholl. There hadn't been time to tell them to go to Blair Atholl. It was a lovely place to stay. It had been an auxillary hospital in the First World War but was the family home of the Duke of Atholl. The Duke was the only person allowed to keep a private army and we often saw his Atholl Highlanders. While we were there the Duke died and we watched the Highlanders parade and pipe the coffin from the house to the church. We watched from the upper windows. The family made us very welcome and we had few shortages. The estate was large and the remaining keepers kept us well supplied with food.
The boys were very careful in the castle and I don't remember any breakages but they all came from well off homes so were used to such places.
In May 1945 I had a phonecall from Dorset to say Mother was seriously ill so I packed up and caught the first train home. She died soon after I got there and I stayed home to look after father and never returned to Scotland. At home we had rationing but we had a large garden and two allotments. My brother was a thatcher and got a special petrol allowance so he could carry on working. He often came home with something for the table. My Uncle was a keeper in Honeycombe Wood so he sometimes gave us things too. He kept pigs and built a smoke house near the house. He used oak shavings and smoked the joints and hams so we often had meat too. "
Dorset, Scotland, London

Emily May Garrett

In The Home
South West
1939 - 1941

"We rented a cottage, Parrowfield, Backhouse Lane - so called because there were no windows of the cottage that faced on to the lane - in a small village, with no electricity or running water so we had only paraffin lamps and cooker and a pump by the back door. There were four rooms - two up and two down and of course no bathroom - and an outside privy. I shared one bedroom with Mother and my sister and brother the other. Mice were everywhere! Many damson trees were in the garden and mother sold the crop for navy dye for Service uniforms. In 1941 we moved to a more convenient cottage near the centre of the village - but still no running water or electricity, but an Elsan in the outside privy rather than the earth closet of Parrowfield. Lynton had a large copper in the kitchen on which water was heated for our tin bath tub in front of the fire, as well as for clothes washing."

Sheila Rideout
RECALLS EVACUATION - and the great change from the city facilities she had been used to.

Do you remember having to make do and mend? Please submit your experiences.