War Returns to the Waterworks at Kew Bridge
- Published on Tuesday, 04 August 2009 18:47
Making do with what one has? Stretching the last penny until it cannot be squeezed any further? Sounds like life today in modern Britain.
But this was what everyone left at home had to do during the Second World War. And it is what Kew Bridge Steam Museum will be doing during its third annual Waterworks at War exhibition from 11 am to 4 pm over the Bank Holiday weekend of 29th, 30th & 31st August.
Everyone on the home front had to make do and mend whether it was in the home or at work. New looking shirts or skirts for the children were fashioned by re-cycling parents’ clothes found in the wardrobe while bed linens would be put to service by being made over into a new skirt for mother or a new shirt for father. Knitting needles were in constant use as old woolen garments were ripped apart and refashioned as new scarves, socks or even sweaters. Auto parts were in short supply so what did the people responsible for London’s buses do? All of this will become clear when experts from Transport for London and from our own volunteers talk about and demonstrate what can be made from nothing.
Visitors will have to steer clear of ‘Viv the Spiv’ if they don’t want to run afoul of ‘Policeman Pat’ even though spivs are often the only source for those little luxuries such as silk hosiery for the ladies or fine cigars for the gents. Grey or black, it is still a market that needed servicing.
If Pat looked after civilian law, there had to be military police prowling around to make sure that boys on leave behaved themselves, somewhat. We will have MPs and SPs present to ensure that both officers and enlisted men on site are kept under control.
Incendiary bombs were a constant threat and it was the wise homeowner who knew how to extinguish the pesky rascals. That is why the Museum will have fire personnel on site to demonstrate how to deal with such problems. The demonstrations will take place adjacent to the Victory Garden with its rows of food crops. Children will enjoy digging for wartime treasure in the garden area. Worked up an appetite, Oliver Pearcey is the man from the Ministry of Food. He will be demonstrating the preparation of nutritious meals from the ration allowance.
In the meanwhile, the real work of supplying west London with clean water had to carry on and the Museum’s engines will be working on all three days demonstrating how that was done. Plant personnel and everyone else have to relax after long, hard days so on Saturday, the GI Jitterbugs will be presenting a 40’s dance with lessons beginning at 12:30 pm for visitors who want to join the fun.
There will be a wide array of wartime transport on exhibit and much can be learned about keeping vehicles going whilst spares are in short supply.