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Rationing and Markeaton Park

by ambervalley

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Joan Bannister, Marjorie Cheshire, Jim Cheshire, Alf Cheshire
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Contributed on: 
05 July 2004

I was born on Clover Street, off Keddleston Road in Derby in 1924. I lived with my mum, Ellen Tomlinson, dad Edward and sister Marjorie and brother Gordon.

The school across the road, St Anns primary school, had closed and soldiers were billeted there. My Mother used to have two or three servicemen over for lunch on Sunday's and sometimes members of their famillies would come to visit them from London and we would have them to stay. At Christmas time the soldiers would repay my mothers hospitality with an abundance of Christmas Fayre, we never did know where it all came from.

With the food being rationed at the time my Mother would have to make it stretch a long way and she became quite accomplished at feeding a lot of people with such a small amount of food. There used to be powdered egg, bacon in tins, and of course Spam. We had a few hens at the bottom of the garden so we were lucky to also have some fresh eggs.

There was a recreation ground at the bottom of the garden and the soldiers would have their daily parade there.

One of the other things that you couldn't get hold of then was stockings. We would stand on newspapers and rub wet sand all over our legs, then wait for it to dry. when it was dry we would rub it off and it would have added some colour to our legs.

Also, if you were lucky enough to get a grey army blanket, these would be used to make a nice coat.

Markeaton Park was owned by Lady Mundy at the time and soldiers were also billeted there. There were two lawns at the front of the house (which has since been pulled down) and there used to be a weekly open-air dance on Saturday afternoons. The dances had to be held at this time of day because of the blackout. I used to go to the dance with my sister Marjorie. She was going out with Jim Cheshire ( who she later married) who was in the Army. His twin brother, Alf, was in the Air Force.

Markeaton Park was completely enclosed by Iron railings until they were taken away during the war to be melted down and reused as there was a shortage of Iron. They have never been replaced.

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