Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet


"The British Restaurant" in Bures





British Restaurants were Communal Kitchens created in 1940.
These were to help people who had been bombed out of their homes, or who had run out of ration coupons or otherwise needed assistance.

These were originally called 'Community Feeding Centres', but Prime Minister Winston Churchill considerd the name degrading and so they were renamed the British Restaurants.

They were set up by the Ministry of Food and run by local government or voluntary agencies on a non-profit basis. No one could be served with a meal of more than one serving of meat, game, poultry, fish, eggs, or cheese. Standards varied, but the best was greatly appreciated and had a large regular clientele. British Restaurants were open to all, rich or poor.

In 1943, 2,160 British Restaurants served 600,000 meals set at a maximum price of 9d.

In March 1939, the WI was asked by the Local Authority to assist in the running of a Communal Kitchen to cater for the evacuees. All the necessary equipment would be supplied by the Government, but staffing was down to the WI.
However, the newly formed Women`s Voluntary Service(WVS) was then given the task of looking after the children. The Local Authority then wrote back to the WI, saying their services were no longer required, but the WI we not deterred and paid for the children`s food out of their own funds.

Finally, the British Restaurant in Bures was opened in November 1941 at the rear of the Angel Inn, opposite Chambers Garage and staffed by the WVS.

They were finally disbanded in 1947 when food was becoming more available.

Then came along the 1944 Education Act, which compelled Schools to provide school meals, without warning the school were in breach of the Act. It was then decided to retain the British Restaurant under the control of the Local Education Authority.
Two cooks were appointed to run the facility, namely Mrs Gage and Mrs Keeble and so all the children from Bures School who could now enjoy a nourishing meal for 5d per day.

In September 1947, work commenced to build a new dining room and kitchen, but due to unforeseen delays these were not fully operational until September 20th 1939, so it's possible the LEA run British Restaurant didn't close until the end of the Summer Term 1949.

Meals were sold for a set maximum price of 9d or less. No-one could be served with a meal of more than one serving of meat, game, poultry, fish, eggs, or cheese

In the poorer areas, pennies were exchanged for a token at the door.

Tokens were different colours, in some case coloured red, green and yellow. One was for the main course, one for the 'sweet' and the other for a cup of tea.
All three would cost the statutory 9d

In one in ten restaurants the meals were prepared at central depots. Schools and churches were often used because they had dining halls and kitchens.
In London, mobile canteens delivered meals to air raid shelters and on the street in the aftermath of air raids

By contrast, ordinary private restaurants continued in operation and were not subject to rationing.
They did have some restrictions: for instance, no meal could be more than three courses and the maximum price was five shillings.

Published 16/04/2021