Thursday, August 13, 2015

Food in the Tube Shelters, London, WWII.

During World War II, many of the inhabitants of London were unable to escape the bombing raids by leaving the city, in many cases because they were essential workers. The underground railway (‘Tube’) stations became their night-time shelters, and early in the war the authorities realised the necessity for them to be fed. The following article, in The Times, of October 31, 1940 outlined a plan to deliver food to the ‘shelterers’ – a plan that offered paid work to the women who came forward to assist.

Delivery by Special Train.
The new organization of London Transport for providing food for people sheltering in Tube stations at night was begun with an experiment on a small scale at Holland Park Station on Tuesday night. Lord Woolton, Minister of Food, has emphasized the urgency of the matter, and arrangements are now well in hand. The Board has asked for women, who will be paid for their services, to deliver refreshments to the shelterers.
The women sought must have “tact, common sense, and the ability to act in an emergency,” there is no age limit, and it is hped that they will come forward in sufficient numbers to look after the needs of all the men, women, and children who take refuge each night in the 80 Tube stations.
Electric urns are to be used. Tea, coffee, and cocoa will be provided at 1d. a cup, with light refreshments, consisting of buns, biscuits, chocolate, apples, and sausage rolls, and the maximum charge for eatables will be 2d. Shelterers will have to provide their own crockery as it has been found impracticable to arrange for washing or storing the required articles.
The system of distribution has been adopted so that there shall not be numbers of people clamouring to be served. The women employed in serving will work from 6.30 to 9.30 p.m. and will be given sleeping quarters so that they may be available again in the morning from 5 to 7.
It is hoped that the urns and other equipment required will be delivered soon, and that the women helpers needed will respond to the appeal quickly. The food for the 100,000 persons who find quiet, as well as safety, in the underground stations, is to be delivered by a special train each day.

The Ministry of Food’s Food Facts leaflet Number 13, produced the week before the above story, included instructions for drying apples. Apples were expected to be in short supply later in 1940, as the leaflet explained, so there was an increased need to preserve whatever were available. And dried apples would surely have been good overnight Tube station snack material, would they not?

How to Dry Apples.
We may be short of apples later in the year – through bringing munitions instead of apples in the ships from Canada. So here is a way of preserving the present supply – it can be used for windfalls or blemished fruit. Wipe the apples, remove cores with a round corer and peel thinly. Cut out any blemishes. Slice into rings about ¼″ thick. Steep the rings for 10 minutes in water containing 1 ½ oz. salt to the gallon.

Thread the rings on sticks or spread on slatted trays or cake racks covered with muslin. Dry in a very cool oven (leaving the door open to let the steam escape) or over a hot cylinder on the rack of a stove, until they resemble chamois leather. The temperature should not exceed 120oF. At this heat the process usually takes about 4 hours. Turn once or twice during drying. Cool for 12 hours, then pack in paper bag, jars or tins, and store in a dry place.

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