Three course meals banned in Hucknall during First World War

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A severe shortage of food during World War One meant that restaurants were not allowed to serve as many as three courses in a meal.

So said Hucknall military historian Coun Jim Grundy when he gave the second in a series of talks at Hucknall Library about different aspects of the ‘Great War’.

What constituted a course gave rise to much debate, the speaker pointed out. One query was whether bubble and squeak counted as separate courses.

Coun Grundy said Britain was already heavily dependent on imports of food in 1914 and the situation grew more serious through German U-boats sinking merchant ships.

There was also a lack of labour on farms through men and horses being needed for the war effort. Members of the Sherwood Foresters regiment, billeted in Hucknall, volunteered to help out with one harvest.

But it was not until 1918 that food rationing was introduced. Until then, the Government tried to create a policy of ‘business as usual’ and urge the public to be economical in their eating habits.

People were encouraged to grow their own food and in a letter to the Dispatch, one woman was clearly proud of various produce on her allotment.

In another letter to the paper, a man hit out at a neighbour he identified only as ‘T’ for hoarding potatoes and said it made him feel ‘a bit revolutionary’.

It eventually became an offence to bake white bread or produce for sale such fare as crumpets and muffins. In 1917 a Mansfield baker was prosecuted for putting almonds on top of a cake.

At one stage it was thought that there were only six weeks of food left in the whole country. But things were much worse in Germany, where 424,000 Germans -- including many children -- were estimated to have died prematurely as a result of the British blockade.

The third talk in the series will be on Friday 9th May and is entitled ‘Aubers Ridge 1915: The Battle That Brought Down The Government’.