Tag Archives: Harborough Antique Fair

Wills’ Cigarette Cards No 2: How to Restore a Crushed Broom

At the Market Harborough Antique Market on Sunday, I found this pack of Wills’ Cigarette Cards and the subject was ‘Household Hints’.  A lucky find or what,  my friends?  I don’t know what date they are, but I assume that they are 40s or 50s as they clearly belong to a non-throwaway time.  

Sadly the set is not complete, but there are certainly enough to make an occasional feature for The Wartime Housewife.  I will present them to you in number order and, although you will find most of them extremely useful, there are a few that will provide more entertainment than edification.

No 2:  Restoring a Crushed Broom


Filed under Cleaning, Collecting, Household Hints, Wills Cigarette Cards

Stock Exchange: buying and selling at the antique market

I had a bit of a haul at the Sunday Antique Market.  I really didn’t mean to go.  I picked Boy the Elder up from Scout Camp, went to church then remembered that I needed something from Sainsbury’s that I’d forgotten on Saturday.  Then I remembered that Smog needed a new flea collar and she will only wear yellow which means getting one from Wilkinson’s which is right next to the market. Rats.  Before I knew it, I had cruised in like a rooster and was contentedly browsing the stalls.

Now I happened to have, in the car, an inoffensive, mass-produced Japanese tea set that I had been given some time ago.  I have been attempting to downsize in view of the diminished proportions of WH HQ and I remembered that I had forgotten to take it in on Friday.  I fished it out and managed to persuade a feeble-minded trader to take it off my hands.  I only got beer money but I did then feel justified in doing another circuit of the hall.

One stall, quite uncharacteristically, had a load of magazines and ephemera onto which I swooped vampire-like.  This is what I bought:

  • A 1951 ‘Woman’s Own’ magazine – slightly tatty but containing a three-page section on producing a first Sunday lunch for a new bride
  • A wartime ‘Needlewoman and Needlecraft’ magazine which still had two transfer embroidery patterns in it
  • A Red Cross ’Junior Nursing Manual’ which has convinced me that children should stop learning PSHE and Citizenship and should be doing First Aid instead.

I spurn you OK, Chat and Heat as I would spurn a rabid dog

I also bought two Staffordshire china cups and saucers with violets on which will necessitate the purchase of a little purple or yellow teapot so I can be all elegant and co-ordinated and that.

All of this led me to rummage through my (badly arranged) collection of pamphlets and I rediscovered my 1930s ‘Hints for Home Sewing’ and a wartime Ministry of Food ‘ABC of Cookery’.

You will be glad to know that I will be sharing the contents of these with you. 
But I will do it gradually so you don’t get the vapours.


Filed under Collecting, Community and shopping

Badges of Honour – FANY

This is the third and final part of my WW2 mini series based on some badges that I bought at the Harborough Antique Fair.  How could I not have a badge that said FANY?


The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry was created in 1907 as a first aid link between front-line fighting units and the field hospitals.  During the First World War, FANYs ran field hospitals, drove ambulances and set up soup kitchens and troop canteens, often under highly dangerous conditions.  By the end of the war they had been awarded many decorations for bravery

At the outbreak of the Second World War, the Corps was called upon to form the nucleus of the Motor Driver Companies of the ATS.  Some FANYs  were attached to the Special Operations Executive.  These women worked on coding and signals, acted as conductors for agents and provided administration and technical support for the Special Training Schools. Their work was top secret and often highly skilled. Members operated in several theatres of war, including North Africa, Italy, India and the Far East.

Since the war, the Corps has been known chiefly for its work in the field of military and civil communications, a legacy of its distinguished wartime record.  Since 1999, when the Commandant in Chief, HRH The Princess Royal, gave the Corps permission to use her title, the Corps has been renamed PRVC (The Princess Royal’s Volunteer Corps).

FANYs run to their ambulances


Filed under Collecting, History

Badges of Honour – ARP

This is Part 2 of my WW2 mini series based around some badges that I bought at the Harborough Antique Fair.

Air Raid Precautions (ARP) were organised by the national government and delivered by the local authorities. The aim was to protect civilians from the danger of air-raids.

In September 1935, four years before WW2 began, British prime minister, Stanley Baldwin, published a circular entitled Air Raid Precautions (ARP) inviting local authorities to make plans to protect their people in event of a war, including the of  building public air raid shelters.

In April 1937 the government decided to create an Air Raid Wardens’ Service and during the next year recruited around 200,000 volunteers. These volunteers were know as Air Raid Precaution Wardens, and there were 1.4 million ARP wardens in Britain, most of who were part time volunteers who had full time day jobs. The main purpose of ARP Wardens was to patrol the streets during the blackout and to ensure that no light was visible. If a light was spotted, the warden would alert the people responsible by shouting out “Put that light out! or “Cover that window!“.

The ARP Wardens also reported the extent of bomb damage and assess the local need for help from the emergency and rescue services. They were responsible for the handing out of gas masks and pre-fabricated air-raid shelters (such as Anderson and Morrison shelters), and organised and staffed public air raid shelters. They used their knowledge of their local areas to help find and reunite family members who had been separated in the rush to find shelter from the bombs.


Filed under Collecting, History

Badges of Honour – WVS

Being as how I am a Wartime Housewife, I was very easily seduced by an array of badges that I found at the Harborough Antiques Fair recently.  There is a new boy there who just sells badges; lots of military and wartime stuff as well as clubs, societies and unions.  The great thing about collecting things is that one always learns so much more around the subject as well, and the people who trade in these things are always so tremendously knowledgeable (and let’s face it, occasionally a tiny bit scary). 

I would always encourage children to start collections as soon as they get interested in something.  It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as they take a genuine interest and learn something.  I collect lots of things and I fine that my focus fluctuates in phases.  I will come across some near perfect Ladybird books and turn my attention back to them until the supply dries up and I turn back to cut glass, WW2 ephemera, old kitchenware or any of the multitude of fancies that prevent me feeding my children on a regular basis.

I will tell you all about them today, tomorrow and Monday and I will try to find an appropriately themed verse for the Sunday Poem.

THE WVS (1938-1946)As war began to look imminent in 1938, Home Secretary, Sir Samuel Hoare, came up with the idea of setting up a women’s voluntary organisation to help in the event of air attacks. On 16 May, the Women’s Voluntary Services for Air Raid Precautions was founded. The Dowager Marchioness Lady Reading was appointed chairman, and The Queen and Queen Mary, the Queen Mother became joint patrons of WVS.When war was declared on 3 September 1939 WVS had a membership of 165,000 drawn from groups who, for whatever reason, could not do essential war work – including the old, the young, the housebound and those with dependents. Men were not excluded and occasionally helped with jobs such as driving which at the time not many women could do. WVS work quickly diversified, and as a result the organisation changed its name to WVS for Civil Defence. New tasks included evacuating mothers and children from large cities to the country, staffing hostels and hospitals, sick bays and communal feeding centres, and undertaking welfare work for the troops.WVS also provided food and clothing for over 22,000 refugees, as well as organising rest centres for those made homeless during raids. By the end of 1941, there were over a million WVS volunteers. Throughout the war, the WVS was also staffing Incident Inquiry Points, where people would go to find out information about the dead and the injured. 

WVS played a vital role in supporting civilians during the war – 241 serving members were killed by enemy action.  There was also a growing need for support for older and housebound people, and the first Meals on Wheels were delivered by the WVS in 1943.

I couldn't find a picture of WVS ladies so here is a picture of Princess Elizabeth in the ATS


Filed under Collecting, History

Confessions of a Wartime Housewife: Hornby & Pot Noodles

I like to think that when I am writing articles for my blog  I am among friends; friends in whom I can confide, to whom I can bare my soul.  It is in this spirit that I have decided to make my confession. 

To put today’s disgrace into context, I will first confess to something that happened in 1973.  School was difficult for me for many reasons and, because other parents felt sorry for me, I was frequently required to go and play with girls from school who I did not like, one of whom was Rebecca, who never stopped telling me that her house had formerly belonged to Dicky Valentine (a well known British entertainer in the 60’s and 70’s).  She was bossy, girly and patronising, even at age 8, and we had nothing in common.  

But going to her house had one utterly, heart-stoppingly redeeming aspect.  In her attic, she had a 1950’s Hornby “00” gauge train set.  As soon as I discovered this, I was happy to go to her house as often as I could; she played with her wretched dolls downstairs or galloped about the house pretending to be a Palomino and I sat alone in the attic, laying out track, inventing villages and station names, timetables, de-railings, running the beautiful GWR locomotives and carriages round and round in total bliss.

Hornby level crossing 16.11.09Rebecca had absolutely no interest in the railway.  She thought I was weird for wanting to play with it and made sure that she made my life even more miserable at school by telling everyone that not only was I an oddball, but that I was sad and weird and played with boys toys.  I couldn’t have cared less, but one afternoon in the attic I exacted my revenge.   Before I left her house, I picked up the metal level crossing with perfectly hinged gates and slipped it into my schoolbag.  At home, I only had a red plastic train set, so it was no earthly use to me, I just wanted it.  I wanted some part of that beautiful thing to belong to me, to belong to someone who really loved it. 

I saw one just like it at the Harborough Antique Fair recently, and the whole sordid story came flooding back.  I almost certainly still have it, probably in some deep cupboard at the Aged Parent’s house.  I’m ashamed to admit that my only guilt is that the level crossing should have stayed with the set.

My second confession is as different as can be.  I have had a bit of ‘challenging’ weekend, followed by a morning where everything I did went wrong or couldn’t be finished, concluding with my dropping a glass jar full of baking beans from a high cupboard, which sent shards of glass into the main course and pudding I was preparing in advance for dinner, into the toaster, the butter dish, the kettle, the floor and my hands.  It took me two hours to clear it all up and I was forced to go into Harborough to buy more food.  I was tired, cross, hungry and miserable.  I saw something on a shelf that I have not eaten in 20 years, picked it up, took it home and added the 300ml of boiling water required for its preparation.

Cup Noodles 16.11.09Ladies and gentlemen.  This lunchtime I ate, without undue influence, a pot of Tiger Tiger Cup Noodles, Thai Spice Satay Style (less than 5% fat!).  Apparently it was exciting and had an authentic Thai taste.  I don’t have the words to describe the glutinous, malodorous, repellent mass which I chose to eat with the foldaway fork included in the pack. 

I am so very, very sorry.  I have let you all down, after all my brave talk of home cooking and locally sourced food.  Most of all I have let myself down.  And I can tell you that my guilt about The Great Train Set Robbery pales into insignificance in comparison.

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Filed under Children, Family and Friends, Indoor Activities