Monday, 22 November 2010

The British Homefront

As you know, the women of the 1940s are a true inspiration to me. I am fascinated by the way British women ran their homes during the war, under extreme rationing and hardship.
I'm in awe of the incredible ingenuity and creativity from the WWII homefront.

First please allow me to share this from the home sweet homefront website.

With the scarcity of so many everyday items during World War Two, Britons were encouraged to become much more self-sufficient and make greater use of the materials they had.

The phrase most associated with this British wartime drive for self-sufficiency was 'MAKE DO and MEND'.

Some of the ingenious ways of how people got by included;

i.   making wartime JEWELLERY from old beer bottle tops, cup hooks and corks
ii.  supplementing a shortage of CLEANING MATERIALS by crushing egg shells for use as a scouring compound and cutting squares out of old stockings for use as dishcloths

iii. using the dregs of cold tea to clean WOODWORK

iv. varnishing the soles of CHILDREN'S SHOES to prolong the foot-wears life and
v.  cutting up old Mackintoshes to make BIBS for babies.
 Just look at this brooch! It was made from a button and electrical wire! Isn't it brilliant!?! 

Nothing wasted.
Kitchen scraps were all saved and recycled to feed pigs, goats and chickens which could be used for milk, meat and eggs. People created Pig Clubs to keep pigs which would later become meat and be shared by the members of the club.
Keeping rabbits was popular during the war...but not as pets! Eek!

Phil Bryne writes:

Households were asked to wash their recyclables before putting them out in tied bundles. Waste was segregated for the following uses:

- Tins and metal were collected for use in aircraft, tanks and weapons
- Boiled bones were used to make glue for aircraft, ground up to make fertiliser or made into glycerine for explosives.
- Kitchen waste provided feed for pigs, chickens and goats and people would bring their scraps to communal bins.
- Paper for munitions - newspapers were printed on low quality paper
- Rubber was collected to make tires

Man oh man, we've got it good. So good.
We're recycling for different reasons now, but I would love to be as committed to making do and reusing as people of the WWII homefront. I have a loooong way to go to change the way I view waste and what's still "good".

I'd love to hear some of your recycling and making do tricks. Or what you like or don't like about the home front during any of the wars.

Bye for now!

I've got a lot of jewellery to finish for this week!


  1. i have the first poster in my bedroom. great minds think alike!x

  2. brilliant aren't they those old posters! I'd cover my walls with them if I got the chance!
    MissGinger, I edited the post a bit after you'd read it! Oops! I accidentally published too early!

  3. i like that i got to see it 'raw'! what i like is that they look better not framed.

  4. It's unbelievable what consumers we are when you think about how people lived just a few decades ago....I wish our generation could appreciate that more....

  5. Women also used to stain their legs with tea and draw a line up the back of the leg to make it seem that they had stockings on when they couldn't actually get any. They also used to salvage parachutes if any came down to make clothing (including wedding dresses) from. i love listening to the stories from my nan. She was a wartime bride.

  6. A friend of mine makes his business cards out of cereal box cardboard. They are so cool.
    I hope you have a fabulous Thanksgiving.
    Are you coming home for Christmas?
    I want to hear all about your home town.

    love love,


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