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The Refuge of Wimbledon Park

by threecountiesaction

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Archive List > Rationing

Contributed by 
threecountiesaction
People in story: 
Sheila Townley
Location of story: 
Wimbledon Park, London
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A5885797
Contributed on: 
24 September 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by a volunteer on behalf of and Sheila Townley has been added to the site her permission. Sheila Townley fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

"During the war, rationing was a strict rule that everyone learnt to live by one way or another. There were many ways of gaining more than what your rationing tickets would allow you to legally buy. However, my father believed that everyone should only be given their allotted amount and this meant he did not condone the use of the black market at the time. This was quite a stand for someone in his position to take, for he was a tobacconist by trade. He was often propositioned by many to swap ‘this for that’ etc. However he was a principled man who would take what was given to him and that was that. This community spirit was encouraged by many people and maintained a strong bond of loyalty in my neighbours. It was this type of spirit that allowed for projects that were practiced to help the war effort.
Wimbledon Park was a place where such practices took place. In 1940, it was agreed to turf up land within the park in order to convert it into allotments. There was a small rent charged for each plot, so that local people could grow their own vegetables (which were in short supply). As long as people maintained the plots, they were able to harvest their own crops. Of course, there was no security to maintain these plots. So the community was relied upon to keep them safe from pillagers. I am not aware that there were any reports of stolen crops. Which I believe is a testament to the loyal practices of the local residents. The goods reaped from these projects were able to sustain families as well as the local markets.
In my opinion, people were more healthy during the war than they are now. Simply because they were not able to over indulge and were made aware of the needs of others around them."

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