Saturday, 18 July 2015

Bromley First World War

On a glorious July Saturday I visited Southborough Road Allotment and Gardens Association, venue for the First World War Allotment demonstrating varieties popular during 1914-1918. I sampled two of the three First World War recipes on offer

  • Trench Cake (from a recipe provided by Waitrose)
  • Bread pudding which was made with suet and steamed
Both recipes are featured in the Bromley Information and recipes from the First World War leaflet Heritage Lottery Funded and researched by Bromley Archives and Local Studies who had prepared two large illustrated panels to show the history of the Bromley borough allotment sites and their significance.
Rationing of sugar,meat,butter and margarine, bacon and ham had placed greater emphasis on self reliance in food growing in gardens and allotments. The displays on the site used extracts from archival material to evoke the period.
I learned that potatoes were in great demand.In an extract from the Bromley Times April 1917 "extraordinary scenes were witnessed in Farnborough over the past fortnight as thousands of people have visited the place hoping to obtain the highly prized 'spud' Mister Staples is selling in 7 pound lots for one shilling."
The coloured illustrated booklet drew recipes from Waitrose magazine The Great War Cook book published by Amberley Books Mrs Beetons 1861 volume Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management and the splendid 1915 The Beckenham Book of Cookery and Household Hints which is from the Local Studies collection at Bromley.
The allotment presentation was an excellent way of involving the local community in First World War history and there was a fascinating display of knitting socks and balaclavas for soldiers with a Paton and Baldwins knitting pattern illustrating a further range of knitted items including socks for hospital patients including casualties evacuated from the fighting in France and Belgium.
Well done Southborough Road Allotment and Gardens Association for all your hard work to achieve an excellent display. It was a part of the Bromley First World War events taking place since 2014 and continuing to 2018 which are part of the Heritage Lottery Funded Bromley in the First World War. The London Borough of Bromley "Caring for Casualties of the First World War" can be found here. I kept up to date on the allotment project this year by following progress and poster for the event on this web site which is part of the project.
Bromley Archivist Lucy Allen has spoken at various Libraries and a touring exhibit has featured in Libraries and Bromley Museum this year.
The website is interactive and contributors have recorded places and people in the borough who cared for casualties in Bromley and will continue to grow as volunteers contribute local specialised knowledge as well as volunteer information from a wide variety of sources over the four years of volunteering.
Today gave me some recipes I certainly want to try including Parsnip marmalade ( from the Great War Cook Book) which Lucy and others from the association recommend!