Communal Kitchens coming to Beckenham – WW2

Communal kitchens were created in the 1940’s, during the Second World War, to help people who had been either bombed out of their homes, run out of ration coupons or otherwise needed help.   These community feeding centres were named ‘British Restaurants’ by the, then, Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.   Set up by the Ministry of Food, the centres were run by the local government or volunteers.  Both my mother and grandmother helped at the British Restaurant which operated in West Wickham, Kent.

Meals were sold at a set price of 9d or less, and no one was allowed to be served a meal of more than one serving of eat meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or cheese.

A number of schools and churches were often used because they had dining halls and kitchens, and in London mobile canteens were used to deliver meals to air raid shelters and on the street in the aftermath of air raids.

By mid-1941, there were over two hundred British Restaurants operated in the London County Council area.

Communal Kitchen at Beckenham Soon

The provisional date for the opening of the “Communal Kitchen” at the converted domestic science room at Churchfields School, Beckenham, has been fixed for Tuesday, March 23.

In the first instance, at least, the kitchen will be open on the six week-days for the service of a mid-day meal only.  During the first month’s trial, prices will be on a flat basis, as follows: meat, or other hot dish, with two vegetables, 6d; sweet 2d,; tea or cocoa, 1d per cup; soup 1d; soup with potato, 1 1/2d; bread 1/2d for two small slices.

Miss Forbes, a domestic science teacher, will be the organiser responsible for running the kitchen, and her staff will consist of a cook and two maids.  Applications will be invited, either through the local W.V.S. or by advertisement, for suitable ladies willing to undergo a course of training in organisation, etc. of communal feeding.  This number is limited to six.

The total cost of the proposed equipment for the kitchen is £410..

Bromley & District Times, March 1941

Communal Feeding in War Time: British Restaurants, 1940-1947 by Peter J. Atkins

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