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The webmaster, Pat Cryer, as a young child

Coal rationing in and after
1940s wartime Britain

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The shortages and austerity of the Second World War caused coal to be rationed, even though Britain was a coal producing country.

heap of coal

Heap of coal

It is difficult for anyone who was not alive at the time to understand how significant coal rationing was, as almost all domestic heating was from coal fires, hot water was from coal fired boilers or coppers and many people were still cooking on coal fired kitchen ranges. Industry, too, was powered by coal.

The coal ration was set at two and a half tons per household per year, that is fifty hundredweight.

A reaction to coal rationing from a typical elderly lady

My grandmother complained bitterly about the coal ration. She had always had two hundredweight a fortnight. She needed two hundredweight (100kg) a fortnight. Although she only had a fire in winter, she had always had two hundredweight of coal delivered every fortnight throughout the year for budgeting purposes. Couldn't they see - she argued - that that came to fifty-two hundredweight a year? Fifty hundredweight was no good to her. What would she do for the odd fortnight? She kept this up, and eventually 'they' relented, and she continued to have her two hundredweight a fortnight.

Richard Cole

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Pat Cryer, webmaster