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World War Two: Off-ration meals and treats


Civic Restaurants replace WW2 British Restaurants

Civic Restaurants post-WW2

Civic Restaurants were essentially British Restaurants renamed after the Second World War to help the public to put everything about the war behind them for a new start. Of course, there were changes. This page elaborates.


By the webmaster based on visits to museums discussions with older people

What Civic Restaurants were

British Restaurants were renamed Civic Restaurants in 1946, i.e. after the Second World War ended. However as the experiences below show, they were little different from their forerunners.

Civic Restaurants did not last long. The one where I lived in Edgware was pulled down a couple of years or so after the end of the war to make way for a new public library.

On reflection, the closure of the British Restaurants and Civic Restaurants is surprising because rationing and austerity continued after the war into the 1950s. Perhaps everyone just wanted to forget everything that had any connection with the war.

Civic Restaurant tickets

One difference between the earlier British Restaurants and Civic Restaurants would seem that the token system of payment at British Restaurants was replaced with a ticket system. Or was this a matter of where the restaurants were? If you know, please share.

Civic Restaurant ticket for meal

Ticket for a main meal at a Civic Restaurant, courtesy of Malcolm Johnson

The Civic Restaurant meal ticket shown in the picture is clearly made from cheap, rough-and-ready unbleached paper which was common at the time for disposable use. The jagged left and right edges show that it was torn off from a roll. Interestingly it is numbered which presumably allowed staff to see how many tickets were sold in a given time, hence to guide future catering requirements. Also the numbers made it possible to guard against theft by comparing how much money ought to be in the till with how much was there.

As the following contribution shows, there were also tickets for the dessert course and cup of tea.

A visit to a Civic Restaurant

There was a Civic Restaurant on Crayford High Street in Kent. I can remember being intrigued by the name, as at the time, as a boy of 8 or 9, I wasn't at all sure what 'Civic' meant! As it was 'Civic' not 'British', it must have been immediately after the war. The site it occupied was a pre-war two story building with flats above, later two or three shops.

My grandfather, on one of his frequent sorties for something to augment the rations, took me there for something to eat, probably because I continually complained of being hungry! I was there on one occasion only, but the memory of that day is still one of my many wartime and post-war memories!

The place seemed vast to me at the time, although it was probably quite small in reality - plain painted green walls, long tables in two or three rows, and an assortment of old chairs. The tables were covered in glossy American cloth, a checked pattern, that I clearly recall. It was probably a Government issue.

We queued up to be served by a lone WVS lady wearing the WVS uniform.

Granddad bought me a sponge pudding with runny custard which didn't impress me! He sat watching me as I ate it. I think he had a cup of tea and a bun and a smoke!

Michael Sullivan

The end of Civic Restaurants

Civic Restaurants were short-lived. They were closed in 1947.

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased if you would contact me.

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