Because of the naval blockade in 1917, rationing of sugar, and later meat, butter, cheese and margarine was introduced in 1918. At Wolverhampton Archives we have a file of material around the Bilston Rationing Scheme, including application forms and posters.
The Bilston Food Office issued a circular to shopkeepers on 4 February 1918, granting them a Certificate of Registration under the Bilston Scheme for Rationing Tea, Butter & Margarine, and giving them instructions about what they could accept. Suppliers could accept customer cards from the whole Wolverhamption area rationing scheme, including Wolverhampton, Heath Town, Tettenhall, Wednesfield, Sedgley, Seisdon and Coseley, as long as the customers had been “regular customers up to the present”.
Other material includes a circular, dated 14 March 1918, stating the “heavy workers” are entitled to supplementary meat, as long as they fill out the relevant form. A month later, supplementary rations were available for boys aged 13 to 18, as long as they were not already possessing supplementary rations for heavy workers.
Householders were also encouraged to “make their own bread and bake it at their homes where possible”, as “the Master Bakers in the Town are endeavouring to Bake as much Bread as possible.” Tea, Butter and Margarine could only be sold from Wednesday until Saturday, as they could not be supplied on the other days. In weeks where the shortages were greater, shopkeepers were instructed to divide their supplies equally between their registered customers, even when they were unable to give the full ration.