The Cowbridge Food Control Committee

The role of the Food Commissioners during the First World War was not an easy one, as the letter book of David Tilley, the Executive Officer of the Cowbridge Food Control Committee for 1917-18, shows. Sugar, meat, tea, butter or margarine were rationed, prices were fixed and retailers had to provide monthly detailed information to the Committee.

In November 1917, David Tilley wrote to the Divisional Commission in Cardiff about the difficulty experienced in enforcing the butter order:

Mr Llewellyn, Morland Farm, Penlline who has supplied butter at many houses in the town for very many years charged 2/3 for his ‘Farm Butter’ in 1lb bricks. This was paid under protest by several of his customers. Yesterday he called upon his customers & told them that he would not supply them this week or until the price was increased. This will cause a great inconvenience to many. He suggested to some of his customers that he would take it to Bridgend, to others that he ‘would put it down’.

Unfortunately it appeared that he received an unhelpful reply and wrote again:

…that there is no remedy against a farmer withholding his butter from his regular customers in consequence of the fixed price… This I think is a great grievance to people and it appears to border on hoarding necessary food.

Other problems are mentioned in David Tilley’s letter book. In a letter to Mrs Thisell of Cowbridge, who had written complaining that Messrs Robert Roberts & Co Bridgend charged her 10/- for a bag of potatoes, he states:

I asked the Bridgend Police to go to their shop & examine their invoices, to find what they paid for the potatoes. I do not think they did this but was told by Mr Roberts that they had paid Mr England, Cardiff £8 5s per ton and carriage for them.

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Mr Rees, Darren Farm, had been ordered to plough certain pasture fields:

He has sold milk for 50 years and supplies 250 from his 18 cows. If he must plough he will give up the sale of Milk as the best pasture will be ploughed and he cannot cultivate fields as well as retail milk.

A complaint had been made against D Williams & Sons that they made a condition of sale of margarine that they would not supply it unless the customer held sugar tickets. They were informed that such refusal was illegal and liable to prosecution:

Therefore on this occasion we wish to warm you that should further reliable complaint be made that we will have to proceed against you at law.

Other problems included the Girls School not depositing their coupons with a retail grocer and not registering as a customer with any retailer; also butchers overcharging for underweight meat or not being able to obtain enough meat to sell.

Government Departments had to have explained to them that:

…this district contains very few over 1000 in population but is a centre for shopping for a large area around 4 or 5 or even more miles around.

On one occasion David Tilley wrote:

At least 12 shops used to sell imported butter, five only have made returns, the others have closed down over the difficulties of obtaining foods.

Unfortunately, as with all the letters in the book, we do not have any replies so the outcomes remain a mystery.

Ann Konsbruck, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

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The Prince of Wales Hospital, Cardiff

The Prince of Wales Hospital was originally founded as a Red Cross Hospital in 1914 at No.21 The Walk in Cardiff. Out of an initiative by Sir John Lynn-Thomas, a former surgeon, came the purchase of that property, which became the Wales and Monmouthshire Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers. The first Orthopaedic patients arrived in May of 1917. More property was acquired at the Old Mansion House and Richmond Crescent in Cardiff. It was renamed as the Prince of Wales Hospital when it was opened formally in 1918 by its namesake, the future Edward VIII and later Duke of Windsor.

The Prince of Wales’ main task was to help those who had lost limbs during the war achieve some sense of normality in their lives. To that end prosthetic limbs were developed at facilities on-site, so that they could be custom built to suit each individual.

Fitting of artificial limbs

In the first two and a half years of providing this service 878 legs (and 273 peg legs) and 287 new arms had been provided and 480 repairs had been carried out.

Once the prosthetic limbs had been fitted, they would be tested in the garden of the Hospital, which had been modified to house artificial hills and valleys with varying gradients and drops, sharp curves and sudden rises.

Special garden for walking

Once these tests had been completed, the wounded servicemen would be taken on a trip out into Cardiff, with those who were more mobile allowed to go to the shopping centre. One problem encountered was that at the time there was nowhere for them to sit down, so they had to either lean against railings or lie down on open ground. Eventually public benches were provided.

Even before the War had ended, it had been established in the Prince of Wales’ constitution that it would eventually serve not just wounded servicemen but also limbless civilians, from adults who had been injured working in mining or in factories to children who had been either born with deformed or missing limbs or had suffered an accident or illness that had led to the loss of deformation of limbs.

Further expansion led to new premises at Crossways in Cowbridge in 1930. The Prince of Wales would stay in The Walk and Crossways throughout the two World Wars, suffering bomb damage to the buildings in The Walk during the latter, before moving to Rhydlafar in the Pentyrch area in 1953, this site having previously been used by the United States military during World War II. The Hospital evolved to provide other services such as occupational therapy and speech therapy, before eventually being closed in 1998. Services were transferred to other hospitals and health centres in South Wales, with the orthopaedic services moving to Llandough Hospital in Penarth. The old site at the Walk had closed its outpatient services in 1972, and Crossways closed in 1965, apart from a special school attached to the hospital which closed in 1987.

Andrew Booth, Relief Records Assistant