Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Paper Mache Time Machine : 10th October 1947


There is no finer way to get a real "feel" of a time than to turn to the newspapers of the day. Newspapers are unfettered by the "historical viewpoint", they paint a picture of a moment in time with the materials that are available at that time, rather than some idealised picture of days gone by. If time machines could in fact be constructed, then they would probably be made of paper-mache.

​Today I am travelling back seventy years to October 1947, and my time travel is courtesy of the pages of the Daily Herald. The second world war has been over for two years, but Britain is still beset by enormous problems and serious economic shortages. The dreadful winter of 1946/47 nearly brought the country to its knees far more effectively than years of enemy bombing campaigns, and in October 1947 the Government was putting together contingency plans for the coming winter.

​The examples given in the newspaper reports - football coupons being reduced to half their size in order to save paper and cinemas closing early to conserve power - illustrate just how far the economic shortages were making serious inroads into the lives of ordinary people. This came at a time when the rationing of food and luxuries was probably even more widespread than it was during the war itself.


Another interesting sidelight is provided by a couple of small items which relate to the future of energy supplies in the UK. One is a short article about "Atom Boys" (note the gender specificity!), a hand-picked group of 160 young men who will become the country's atom scientists of the future. The article doesn't actually say "they will be a glowing beacon that will light the path to the future", but  you get the impression that, but for the sub-editors pencil, it could have done. The second is an advert for miners to return to the pits. "Join the Miners - the miner's the skilled man the nation will always need". Oh, if only they could have seen into the future!

1 comment:

  1. I love looking at old newspapers. Magazines, too. It's always interesting to see which Hollywood stars were popular seventy years ago or more. Some are still remembered, while most are only known to cinema lovers.

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