The longer Brandon endured war and adhered to strict to rationing, then the scarcer food became. Predictably when rationing bit hard for the community there were unscrupulous individuals who sought to make a quick profit from desperate residents. Brandon, like many other places, created a Food Committee whose remit was to ensure people adhered to rationing and where food was available to be purchase that it was at a reasonable price. The committee was made up of Brandon Parish Council members, usually meeting at the Guildhall, in Thetford. The reports below come from the Thetford & Watton Times, now the Thetford & Brandon Times, during WW1.
September – The first meeting of the Brandon Rural Food Control Committee was held at the Guildhall, Thetford, when Mr A.W. Rought-Rought was elected chairman, and Mr J Houchen the Executive Officer.
“THE WORK OF THE COMMITTEE – Before commencing the business, Mr Houchen said the numerous Orders issued by Lord Rhondda were for the benefit of the consumer, and it was on his behalf the committee had to carry out these various Orders, and not on behalf of the trader. The committee had certain powers given them which they were bound to administer, although they might be against their individual opinions. One particular point he wished to draw their notice to was that in the course of carrying out their duties, they would received a great deal of private information, and this must be treated strictly confidential. He was inclined to think that later on they might all be sworn to secrecy. He had to beg the committee’s indulgence and co-operation in the work, as it was impossible to get through the Orders, and, furthermore, to understand them. Without the valuable assistance of his assistants and Mr Gardener, he could not in any way carry on. With reference to learning what was going on, he had to state that the Press generally had agreed as their contribution to state to the public free of charge all the Orders as seen as passed, which will give the public due notice of what is going on. The Chairman remarked that he thought the committee had a great deal of work before it.”
The following people and businesses were registered as retailers of sugar:
- Co-operative Society, Brandon
- Collins, Brandon
- Morris, Brandon
- Neep, Brandon
- International Company, Brandon
- Challis, Brandon
- Harvey, Brandon
- Hinnels, Brandon
- Teed, Brandon
“THE PRICE OF MEAT – It was explained by the Executive Officer that under the Meat Maximum Price Order, 1917, no butcher was allowed to charge more than 1s 3½d per lb for his meat, plus halfpenny if he chose top book or deliver it. A butcher could charge 2s per lb for beef steak, but he had to sell the other parts so as to bring his charges down to an average of 1s 3½d per lb. Every butcher had to exhibit in his shop a price list of the various joints. The committee appointed the Executive Officer, with assistant (Mr G Gardner), and the local Food Control Officer (Mr S.J. Miller) as authorised persons to inspect the books kept by the butchers when occasion may require.”
November – At a meeting of the Food Control Committee for the rural district, held at the Guildhall, Thetford, under the presidency of Mr A.W. Rought-Rought, the retail price of meat and coal was fully discussed with the respective tradesmen and the prices were eventually fixed by the committee.
“PRICE OF MILK AND BUTTER FIXED – The Chairman (Mr A.W. Rought-Rought) presided at a meeting of the Brandon Rural Food Control Committee, held at the Guildhall, Thetford. Following the reading of the minutes, which stated that the committee fixed the retail price of milk at 3d per pint, Mr Willett said their milk at Brandon was not yet any cheaper. The Chairman replied that these prices had not yet been published. The Executive Officer (Mr J Houchen) said according to further instructions received, the committee could not now fix the price of milk until they had consulted the retailers in the district on the subject.
The Committee therefore reconsidered the question, and after discussion with the retailers it was agreed that a charge of 3d per pint be made to people who fetched their milk from the dairies, and 5½d per pint if delivered. The Committee agreed that the price of farm butter in the district should be 2s 5d per lb, and when sold in half pounds it should be 1s 2¾d per half pound. The price of all imported butter was fixed at the scheduled prices. The Executive Officer pointed out that everybody must apply before 15th December for a form from the grocer, who held his sugar card, and fill up one for each person mentioned on his sugar card, in order to obtain his supplies.
Mr Willett – “I thought that was optional.”
The Food Officer (Mr S.J. Miller) – “No, he must apply.”
Mr Willett – “If anyone leaves the household how does he go on?”
The Executive Officer – “He must go to a Post Office and get a form and fill up, when he will be granted a permit to purchase an eight weeks’ supply.”
Mr Willett – “What about the grocers in the district where they go to. They probably won’t have the sugar to supply them with.”
The Executive Officer – “Yes they will, provision has been made for that.”
December – Mr Albert Rought-Rought presided at a meeting of the Food Control Committee for the Brandon Rural area, held at the Guildhall, Thetford. The Executive officer (Mr J Houchen), produced a petition, signed by the butchers in the district, requesting the committee to increase the prices, set forth in their lists, by 2d per pound, as they found it impossible to continue business at the prices set out thereon. The Committee decided to forward a letter to Lord Rhondda in conjunction with the two Thetford Committees.
January – The Food Control Committee for the Brandon Rural area met at the Guildhall, Thetford, under the Chairmanship of Mr A.W. Rought-Rought, when certificates for the retail of imported bacon, hams and lard was granted to the following:
- J.G. Collen, Brandon
- Frank Morris, Brandon
- Frank Neep, Brandon
- and a caterer’s certificate to W Clark, Brandon, granted by the Committee.
An application for registration under the Meat Control Order was received from the International Stores, Brandon, and granted by the Committee.
“A letter was read from the Ministry of Food, in reply to the petition from the butchers of the Thetford and Brandon districts, stating that the situation was fully appreciated by the department, and had been under consideration for some time, and further … had been issued limiting the live weight prices as from the 27th. An explanation was given by the Executive Officer of the effect of a memorandum issued by the Ministry of Food relative to local schemes of distribution for certain commodities, with the primary object of preventing or remedying queues. The Chairman said up to the present everything seemed to be working satisfactorily in their district.
Mr W.R. Johnstone – “There are no queues in Brandon?”
Mr Willet – “I have only seen two, and they have been for paraffin oil.”
The Executive Officer thought the three local committees should meet together and discuss the matter, and the matter was adjourned for further consideration.”
“A letter was read from the Ministry of Food enquiring if there were a large number of rabbits in the neighbourhood, and if the supplies to the markets had been kept up as well as in past years, as it was found in several districts supplies were limited by the reason of the want of trappers. The Chairman said no doubt there was a shortage on account of a shortage of trappers. Mr Johnston stated that in his neighbourhood there were about the same number of rabbits, but there was a difficulty in getting trappers. It was decided to reply there was no shortage of rabbits in the neighbourhood, but some difficulty was experienced in getting trappers.”
Mr A.W. Rought-Rought presided at a meeting of the Brandon Rural Food Control Committee, held at the Guildhall Thetford. Certificates to retail margarine were granted to the following:
- F Neep
- C.H. Harvey
- F Morris
- C.H. Hinnells
- J.G. Collen
- T.H. Teed
- W Challis
- Co-Operative Society
- International Stores
“The Executive Officer (Mr J Houchen) reported the receipt of a communication from the Ministry of Food relative to the retail meat prices in force in the district, pointing out that the beef prices were satisfactory, but the prices for pork should be reduced 2d per lb, all round, and the prices for mutton should also be reduced, as they exceeded the maximum. The Inspector (Mr S.J. Miller) did not think the butchers would be able to do it at the prices. The Chairman remarked he had heard no one grumble about the price of mutton.
The Inspector – “I think you will find butchers wont sell it.”
Mr Plummer – “No, butchers wont buy the stuff.”
Mr Cackett – “There soon wont be any to buy.”
Mr Plummer – “If there is, butchers wont buy it as they are losing money over it now.”
The Chairman said it seemed they would have to reduce the prices, but it would evidently result in the butchers shutting up. The Committee decided to reduce the prices of pork and mutton accordingly.”
February – A meeting of the Brandon Rural District Food Control Committee was held at Thetford, Mr A.W. Rought-Rought presiding. A letter was read from the Divisional Food Commissioners as to limiting supplies of food stuffs and caterers under the Public Meals Order, 1918, and the committee decided that having regard to the small number of catering places in the district and the proximity of a compulsory rationing scheme, that no action at present be taken in the matter. The Assistant Executive Officer (Mr Gardner) produced a letter from the Ministry of Food stating that the retail prices of meat as now fixed by the committee were correct.
A letter was received from Mr Wortley, temporary manager to the East Anglian Stock Farms Limited, to the effect that they intended discontinuing the supply of milk retailed to Brandon, and enquiring what steps the committee intended taking in the matter. After consideration the committee decided to take steps to requisition the supply of milk of the East Anglian Stock Farms Ltd., as previously retailed in Brandon, and the Executive Officer was instructed to take steps accordingly.
May – Mr Albert Rought-Rought presided at a meeting of the Brandon Rural Food Committee, held at the Guildhall, Thetford.
“A letter was received from the Brandon milk vendors, calling attention to the retail price of milk fixed by this committee, and pointing out that owing to the poor pasture in the district they were unable to retail milk at the price fixed.
Mr Johnstone – “What were the prices fixed?”
The Assistant Executive Officer – “Two pence at the farm door and 2½d, pint-delivered.”
The Food Inspector said the retailers did not wish to use it as a threat in any way, but they had told him unless the price was increased they would have to dispose of their cows, as they could not take it round at 2½d a pint. The committee decided that for the months of June, July, August and September the retail price of milk should be increased to 2½d pint at the farm door and 3d delivered.”
August – A meeting was held at the Church Institute, 1st August, for the purpose of hearing an address from Mr Barwell, secretary to the West Suffolk Food Production Horticultural Department. He explained the arrangements which had been made for the disposal of surplus vegetables, eggs, poultry, etc.
November – At a meeting of the Brandon Rural Food Control Committee, at the Guildhall in Thetford.
“The Assistant Executive Officer (Mr G.E. Blaydon) read a memorandum received from the Ministry of Food announcing that the Food Controller would take control of the whole potato crop of England and Wales as from the 1st inst., and that varieties known as King Edward, Golden Wonder, Langworthy, What’s What, and Main Crop were classified as Grade 1, and all other varieties as Grade 2. He pointed out that the growers’ price per ton, free on rail, in Suffolk, during November and December, would be £7 per ton for Grade 1 potatoes, and for Grade 2 potatoes £6 10s. The retail price for the former grade till the end of December was 1¼d for Grade 1, and 1d per lb for Grade 2. The Chairman said he believed there were a quantity of potatoes going bad this year. Mr W Durrant asked if it was possible to dispose of potatoes as they were taken up. The Chairman said it depended upon if they were Grade 1 or Grade 2 potatoes.
The Assistant Executive Officer – “You are speaking as a grower?”
Mr Durrant – “Yes.”
Mr Cackett – “I have understood you can’t sell them without a permit.”
The Assistant Executive Officer – “Do you grow over an acre?”
Mr Durrant – “Yes.”
The Assistant Executive Officer – “Then you are recognised as a wholesale dealer.”
Mr Money – “Anyone may sell who grows less than an acre?”
The Assistant Executive Officer – “Yes, but those growing over an acre must obtain a permit.”