End of coal rationing announced
The 23rd of June 1958 AD
After the end of WWII rationing became tougher, rather than as had been expected, and certainly hoped, easing off. The British may have been hungry, but much of Europe was starving, its infrastructure and economy smashed in the drive to rid the continent of the Nazis. Bread, freely available during the conflict, was rationed in July 1946.
By July 4 1954, however, the last food items came “off the ration,” but coal remained on restricted supply for another four years. It had been put on ration in July 1941, families restricted to 50 hundredweight a year, which as many families still cooked on a coal range in the kitchen, and had their hot water courtesy of a coal boiler, was not a comfortable amount. In the horrifically extended winter of 1946/47, which did not break its icy grip until early March, proving to be the worst in more than 60 years, people became desperate for fuel: fences disappeared overnight, garden trees were felled and sawn for firewood, and people wore layers of clothes to bed.
The continuation of coal rationing was partly economic. By June 1958, when it was ended, Britain had built up a huge stockpile of industrial coal, finer than the stuff needed to keep the home fires burning, because of the recession in Europe at the time softening sales. With industrial demand reduced and massive stocks in hand the Coal Board had the capacity available to satisfy the domestic market, so on June 23 the news was disseminated that the last rationed item would be lifted the following month.
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