Whilst the availability of food during WW1 was never as high as during peacetime, the ramping up of German submarine activity in 1917 started to make a real impact. Shipping losses in April 1917 reached 500,000 tonnes, most of which were food and other supplies coming to Britain. We coped pretty well however and even achieved a record wheat harvest in 1917. Potatoes though were one of the food items in very short supply. Deliveries of spuds back then created considerable excitement.
From the Hastings & St Leonards Pictorial Advertiser: “The Announcement “Potatoes at 11 O’Clock” made by Mr Pollard, Courthouse Street, Hastings, on Saturday Morning, caused some hundreds of buyers to assemble. At 10 O’Clock the shop was besieged by an eager crowd, only to learn that the delivery had not been made. A great shout went up when the trolley bearing the much sought after vegetable made its appearance. It was, however, a good natured crowd and the police officers regulating the crowd had little difficulty. No one was served with more than two pounds, and the purchasers, young and old alike, had to be satisfied with this amount. Mr Pollard’s aim was to see that the poor were supplied rather than the fried fish shops and restaurants at a larger price.”
The photo is of the junction of Courthouse Street and The Bourne, Hastings Old Town. The Original Image is from Hastings & St Leonards Pictorial Advertiser on 26th April 1917.
The two photographs used to create the image, and the final combined image are below. You can view the top image full size on my Flickr page by clicking on it.
This image is part of a continuing series of Then and Now images I’ve created for East Sussex Council’s World War 1 commemoration website. The website is focused on the contribution that the men and women of East Sussex made towards the war effort.