Home Front Horncastle

Britain in 1945

“No supermarkets, no motorways, no teabags, no sliced bread, no frozen food, no flavoured crisps, no larger, no microwaves, no dishwashers, no Formica, no vinyl, no CD’s, no computers, no mobile phones, no duvets, no Pill, no trainers, no hoodies, no Starbucks. Four Indian restaurants.

Shops on every corner, pubs on every corner, cinemas in every high street, red telephone boxes, Lyons Corner Houses, trams, trolley-buses, steam trains.  Woodbines, Craven ‘A’, Senior Service, smoke, smog, Vapex inhalant.

No launderettes, no automatic washing machines, wash day every Monday, clothes boiled in a tub, scrubbed on the draining board, rinsed in the sink, put through a mangle, hung out to dry. Central heating rare, coke boilers, water geysers, the coal fire, the hearth, the home, chilblains common.

Abortion illegal, homosexual relationships illegal, suicide illegal, capital punishment legal. White faces everywhere. Back-to back, narrow cobbled streets, Victorian terraces, no high-rises. Arterial roads, suburban semis, the march of the pylon. Austin Sevens, Ford Eights, no seat belts, Triumph motorcycles with sidecars.

A Bakelite wireless in the home, Housewives’ Choice or Workers’ Playtime or ITMA on the air, televisions almost unknown, no programmes to watch, the family eating together, Milk of Magnesia, Vick Vapour Rub, Friar’s Balsam, Fynnon Salts, Eno’s, Germolene.

Suits and hats, dresses and hats, cloth caps and mufflers, no leisurewear, no ‘teenagers’. Heavy coins, heavy shoes, heavy suitcases, heavy tweed coats, heavy leather footballs, no unbearable lightness of being.

Meat rationed, butter rationed, lard rationed, margarine rationed, sugar rationed, tea rationed, cheese rationed, jam rationed, eggs rationed, sweets rationed, soap rationed, clothes rationed. Make do and mend.”

-Extract from Austerity Britain 1945-51 by David Kynaston

This was what life was like for people living in Britain including Horncastle on VE Day 1945.

Here we look back on aspects of life in the town during the war years.

Defence of the Town

Although it would be some time before a bomb dropped, even before the war had started the town had been making preparations.

Rationing & Making Do

The recent coronavirus lockdown has perhaps made us more aware of the privations of wartime Britain. We look back at what restrictions meant.

Evacuees in Town

Horncastle was a reception centre for hundreds of evacuees fleeing the industrial towns. Unfortunately not all received a warm welcome, but some settled here for life.

War Effort & Entertainments

From warship week, sponsor a spitfire, and whist drives galore, there was always something going on in wartime Horncastle as people young and old made their own fun.

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