Stonehouse History Group

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The British Restaurant in Stonehouse 1942

The Government decided to build restaurants to help feed the nation to help people with their rations.

The first British Restaurant to be established in the Stroud district was in Stonehouse and was situated right in the heart of the village just off Laburnum Walk in the corner of the Recreation field. The hut was 120 ft long and 18 ft wide and had seating for 150 people at any one sitting.

The tables were made from wood, which came from bombed premises at Painswick, and made by Mr A Price of Ebley.

The food was cooked at Dudbridge and brought to Stonehouse in containers and kept hot by hot plates and served to the public who took their food on trays to the tables. The restaurant was also equipped for doing its own cooking in case of a emergency.

The restaurant was open each day except Sundays from 12-2pm. It was expected that between 400-450 meals would be served each day.

The first meal served was soup, roast beef and vegetables, apple tart,  and a cup of coffee or tea.

The Tariff was

Soup                             3d

Meat and veg                  8d

Sweet                            4d

Coffee white                   3d

Coffee Black                   2d

Tea                               1d

Cheese and Biscuits        3d

The restaurant was officially opened on Monday 24th August 1942. 60 councillors and officials attended on Tuesday 25th August when the restaurant opened to the public. 130 people were served lunch and all seemed satisfied.

The cost of the building had to be repaid in 5 years, and the contents of the building to be repaid in 2 years and the restaurant had to be self sufficient as not to put any burden on the general rate payers. The restaurant was proposed to be opened by December 1941 but opened August 1942, and sadly the restaurant closed in May 1945, because of a lack of support it received over the years.

Gloucester County Advertiser Friday 28th August 1942


First in Stroud Rural District.

The First British Restaurant to be established in the Stroud District opened at Stonehouse on Monday, and the members of the Rural Council and other bodies sampled the first meal to be served.

The lack of a suitable building for the restaurant necessitated the erection of a wooden structure and this, placed in a central position on a site provided by the Stonehouse Parish Council, is capable of seating 150 people. Artistically decorated, light and well ventilated, the interior of the building presents a most attractive appearance and those who have had the opportunity of inspecting it have been unanimous in their praise. The Restaurant, which was available to the public on Tuesday, will be open each day except Sundays from 12 noon-2pm and it is expected that between 400-450 meals will be served each day. If the Restaurant, and a second one now in the course of erection at Thrupp, prove successful, it is possible that four or five others will be established in other parts of the rural area. Besides catering for workers and the general public it is proposed to serve meals to the school children at the Restaurant and negotiations are in progress with the County Education Committee on the subject.

The restaurant was opened by Mr F.T. Poulton (Chairman of the R.D.C. British Restaurant Committee) and in addition to members of the council, there were present members of the County Education Committee, Mr W.H.Shee (County Public Assistance Officer), members of the Local Defence Committee and the Stonehouse Parish Council, Mr George Clissold (Chairman Nailsworth U.C.) Mr Eric Horsfall (Vice Chairman Stroud U.C.) and a number of prominent local residents, paying the modest charges for their lunch as they entered. Those present carried Soup, Roast Beef and Vegetables, Apple Tart, Coffee or Tea on trays to their tables and enjoyed a well cooked appetising meal.

Performing the opening ceremony, Mr Poulton observed that the event marked a epoch in the life of the Rural Council, “We meet under strange conditions” he said.

“The British Empire stretched from the icy north to the sunny south and appears to be in peril and we are compelled to consider the most economical way of keeping the people in the British Isles in food and other necessities. It must be patent to everyone that communal feeding is the most economical way of dealing with our food problem today. I admit that in the past we have placed a very high value on the home life of the nation. To the average Britisher it has been almost sacred, but war conditions necessitate changes and in view of our rationing system it must be appreciated that it is an advantage for people to be able to come to a restaurant of this nature to obtain some of their meals.”

Many Difficulties

Mr Poulton pointed out that the financial responsibility for the Restaurant rested with the rural council, but the management would lie with the Local Defence Committee who were in close touch with those who would use the establishment and in consequence were able to cater for their needs with the help of Mr R Bird the Council’s surveyor. He had endeavoured to prepare for the working of the Restaurant on as economical lines as possible. The Rural Council had not been in the position of many councils in having a suitable building available and they had been compelled to erect the premises and provide the equipment. The cost of the building itself had to be repaid within five years while the payment for the equipment had to be completed within two years and although it was not a desire of the Council to make any profit on the running of the Restaurant, it would have to be self-supporting to prevent a burden falling on the general body of ratepayers. Proceeding, Mr Poulton explained that the food to be served in the Restaurant was cooked at the Stroud UC Depot at Dudbridge and transported in mobile kitchens and he believed that the arrangements would result in the meals being served without delay in an appetising manner.

The Council had tried hard to get the Restaurant started as quickly as possible but since the consent of the Ministry had been obtained in January last, they had had to deal with many difficulties and delays had been occasioned through having to deal with three or four different Government departments. At the present time the committee was engaged in negotiations with the Gloucestershire Education Committee with a view to supplying meal to school children. There were certain financial questions to be settled between them but he hoped the matter would be dealt with after the meeting of the Education Committee in September.

Surveyor Praised

Mr Poulton paid warm tribute to the work performed by Mr Bird in connection with the establishment of the Restaurant and said his energy and experience had proved very valuable in meeting the difficulties that had arisen.

He also thanked the Stonehouse Parish Council for providing so central and convenient a site for the Restaurant. Concluding, he expressed the belief that the arrangement made would result in the Restaurant being smoothly and satisfactory conducted.(Applause)

Mr B Hudson (Chairman of R.D.C.) extended a cordial welcome to the visitors on behalf of the council, and proceeding, said he thought Stonehouse was to be congratulated on having the first British Restaurant to be established in the rural area. “I think I can say that a very good job has been performed here” observed Mr Hudson, “and I should like to thank Mr Poulton for all the hard work he has performed in connection with the organisation and preparation. I know there have been a lot of difficulties and although we hoped that the opening would take place sooner than it has, there have been delays over which Council has had no control.”

He believed, he added, that the Restaurant would serve to eradicate some of the problems brought about by war conditions and although communal feeding was something new in English life, he hoped that it would be appreciated and extensively used. He wished the Restaurant every possible success.

Information supplied by Shirley and Vicki SHG.