Fuel and Water 


I remember the tradesmen's horses all knew where to stop on the delivery rounds. I remember seeing a horse with his hoof bent up and his head down and asking my mother what the horse was doing. "He's thinking" she said. When our coal was delivered the coalman used to shoot it down into the cellar and my mother used to have to carry it up the stairs in a bucket. Coal was rationed but it was available. People used to go out and gather wood and anything else that would burn to supplement the ration.


All the fuel burning caused some very thick fogs. One time when it was very foggy I was walking home to Hatfield from Welwyn Garden City when a motorist stopped and asked if he could follow me so I led him and others joined in behind him and when we got to a junction I would call out "Anyone for ---" Fogs could happen all the time but especially in November, and buses couldn't run. There were no street lights and you could only see a few inches in front of you. Petrol was strictly rationed and many cars had to come off the road during the war. The black market thrived during the war; nearly everything was available through it in exchange for clothing or other coupons instead of money. You could also go to a dingy place in Hatfield called The Alleyway and my mother used to go there to buy food and clothing coupons. This was totally illegal, but my mum relied on it to keep going.


I honestly don't think my parents were involved in the black market because we were pretty largely self sufficient, with the poultry, pig and allotment but we all knew about it.


One of the worst times was after the war, the winter of 1947. It was so cold and there was no coal and it went on for months and months. It snowed, thawed then froze and there was ice everywhere.


You were allowed 3" of water for a bath, you had to mark the bath. We used to share it to make it go further. The ARP used to come round and check. We had a small house but the authorities came round with a family and we had to give them a room, there were 5 in our family and 3 of them so space was very tight.