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Fuel

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MatC
317474.  Wed Apr 16, 2008 6:39 am Reply with quote

Don’t know how surprising this is to anyone else, but - fuel was not rationed in Britain during WW2, although it was (of course) in quite short supply.

Further details available if required.

S: ‘London 1945’ by Maureen Waller (John Murray, 2005).

 
Jenny
318148.  Wed Apr 16, 2008 8:59 pm Reply with quote

I don't think that's right Mat. At any rate, not according to this site, which says that on the 3rd September 1939 the government announced that petrol and oil was to be rationed, allowing about 200 miles of motoring per month for each motorist, and that after the success of the U-boat attacks on the Atlantic convoys in the summer of 1942 petrol was only available to licensed users and the ordinary motorist had to do without.

Moral pressure was also employed.




That site does have some interesting things to say about cars during the war being converted to run on coal and natural gas though, which has some relevance today.

Something else I learned from that site was that during the war car radios were banned. Mind you, I didn't even know that cars had radios that long ago!

 
dr.bob
318262.  Thu Apr 17, 2008 3:59 am Reply with quote

From what I remember hearing on BBC4's "secret life of the motorway", there were some car radios around before the late 50s, but they were generally the sole preserve of the well off. The market for car radios really took off with the birth of the motorway network. Suddenly people were driving long distances in pretty monotonous surroundings with nothing to take their minds off it, so the desire for some form of in-car entertainment increased massively.

 
MatC
318286.  Thu Apr 17, 2008 4:43 am Reply with quote

Yes, thanks, Jenny, good point! I was being (and Waller was being!) ambiguous there: she’s talking about household fuel, rather than petrol for vehicles. My excuse is I'm a non-driver, so the word "fuel" has no vehicular associations for me.

Quote:
There was to be no rationing of fuel, partly as a result of the opposition of Tory MPs with big country houses to heat and a well-founded Tory fear that Labour was manoeuvring to nationalise the mines.


S: ‘London 1945’ by Maureen Waller (John Murray, 2005).

 
MatC
318293.  Thu Apr 17, 2008 5:01 am Reply with quote

Instead of rationing, a campaign of encouraging voluntary conservation was tried. This was hilariously inept ...

The mass of people were so much better off because of rationing of food etc, that they didn't fall for the “voluntary” nonsense for a moment. They knew exactly why fuel wasn't being rationed - because the toffs wouldn't stand for it - and they also knew “voluntary sacrifice” would inevitably place a massively disproportionate burden on the poor.

There was also cynical puzzlement as to how coal could be short “in an island literally sitting on it.” There was strong suspicion (especially as the quality of the coal that was available deteriorated) that the (still privately owned) mines were hoarding the good stuff in order to sell it at top price to the Germans after the invasion (when it became clear there wouldn't be an invasion, the belief changed: the coal owners were hoarding the good stuff simply to control post-war prices. There was almost certainly a bit of truth in both these beliefs; but the big problem, of course, was manpower.)

A government propaganda campaign aimed at getting people to cut their fuel consumption was met with incredulity by people whose fuel consumption at the best of times was, of necessity, absolutely minimal!

The government’s varsity-educated advisers grandly advised people to:

* buy coal in the summer when it was cheaper - though it didn't tell them where they might get the extra money, or where in their overcrowded homes they might keep the coal.
* to have shallow baths, so as to save hot water - when only one in three Londoners, for instance, had a bath in their homes.
* to eat in the kitchen, so as to save heating up the dining room - apparently unaware that millions of families lived in one room.
* to collect “kindling from the garden”!

S: ‘London 1945’ by Maureen Waller (John Murray, 2005).

 

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