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War & Decline

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Tape measure marked “War Time Qual”

20th Century

Wartime shortages affected every aspect of life.


When the war began, Britain was importing about 60% of her food. Soon ships bringing food to this country were being sunk, some of the countries that grew the food were taken over by the enemy, and sometimes bombs hit the warehouses where the food was stored. To ensure that everyone got a fair share, the government introduced a system of rationing.


Bacon, butter and sugar rationing was the first to be introduced on 8 January 1940. Meat rationing followed in March and in July, tea, cooking fats, jam and cheese followed. Initially people were permitted one egg per fortnight, and three pints of milk a week, but later dried milk and dried eggs became more common. A points system gave shoppers a choice of other foods such as breakfast cereals, biscuits, canned fruit and fish. From July 1942 sweets were rationed to 2 ounces (50g) a week.


Petrol and clothes were also rationed.

Place of Production:
linen, metal
length 60", width 18mm
Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
Digital Number:
DMAC056a, DMAC056b
Dumfries & Galloway Council

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