Transition from War to Peace

Hull 1945-1951: Peace after the Second World War

By Hull History Centre

The Devastation

Out of the 90,000 dwelling houses in the city before the war, it is estimated that 84,000 were damaged in some form or another. At the end of the war the city’s life was at an extremely low ebb, with desolation everywhere and morale dangerously low.

Franklin Street (1941-07-19) by Hull Corporation, City Engineers DepartmentHull History Centre

Hull's V.E. Celebrations

The Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS) had played a vital role during the Second World War. At the end of the war it was predicted that the WVS would continue to be necessary for about two years during the transitional period following the end of the war. However, at the end of this period it was found that there were still “many tasks for which the help of the Women’s Voluntary Services [are] of high value to Government Departments and Local Authorities” and that “whatever the future holds, the need will continue for voluntary helpers to supplement public services both on occasions of emergency and at other times”.

Women in dungarees with the initials HB outside Hull's Ferens Art Galley, 12 May 1945

Parade outside the Ferens Art Gallery and Monument Buildings, Hull (1945-05-12) by (Special) Committee of the City and County of Kingston upon Hull during the Second World WarHull History Centre

Crowds in Queen Victoria Square

Crowds in Victoria Square (1945-05-12) by (Special) Committee of the City and County of Kingston upon Hull during the Second World WarHull History Centre

Civil Defence

At the close of the Second World War life did not return to normal overnight. Instead, a gradual stand down of war-time services took place with their activities and responsibilities reduced or ceased over time.

As the Civil Defence Service wound down surplus equipment and emergency vehicles were sold or disposed of. Surplus equipment included uniforms, respirators, microphone attachments, bleaching powder, and sandbags. In many cases, Government owned civil defence rescue vehicles were retained by the Hull City Council and purchased by various departments.  

Sale of civil defence vehicles (1945-07) by Ministry of TransportHull History Centre

Civil Defence vehicle disc, 1945

Civil Defence Vehicle disc (1945) by Ministry of TransportHull History Centre

Homecoming

Prior to the war the population of Kingston upon Hull had been 318,000, but during the war years this dropped significantly to about 200,000. Those who left the City in service or as evacuees made a gradual return home. During the Second World War almost 38,000 children were evacuated from Hull. 

Rear view of properties on Prospect Street, Hull (1946-06-27) by Hull Coropration City Engineers DepartmentHull History Centre

By February 1946 1,897 prisoners of war; men and women from German, Italian and Japanese camps had returned to Hull. To celebrate their safe return three functions were held at the Madeley Street Baths on the 13th, 20th and 27th February 1946. 

Invitation (1946-02-22) by (Special) Committee of the City and County of Kingston upon Hull during the Second World War.Hull History Centre

Rationing

Due to difficulties importing food to Britain during the Second World War rationing was introduced to the nation in January 1940. In order to ensure that everyone received an equal amount of food every person received a ration book, which they had to take with them to the shops and get the items they bought crossed off by the shopkeeper. Rationing was not limited only to food of course, restrictions were also placed on fuel and clothing. Rationing continued for many years after the end of hostilities and some aspects of rationing became stricter for some years after the War.

Domestic Poultry Keeper ration card (Courtesy of HUA) (1945) by Ministry of Agriculture and FisheriesHull History Centre

Fuel Coupon, 1950

Fuel Coupon (1950) by Ministry of Fuel and PowerHull History Centre

The Ministry of Food controlled the distribution of food during and in the immediate years after the War. The Ministry was responsible for providing information on food rationing as well as giving advice on the use of all foods. Most people had been grateful to the Ministry of Food for its work during the war years, as it had helped people make the most of the restricted foods available. However, a year or so after the war had ended people began to feel disenchanted by the Ministry’s advice and wanted restrictions to be lifted and rationing to end as quickly as possible. 
  

Clothing rationing book (1947) by Board of TradeHull History Centre

From Shelters to Sheds

During the Second World War air raid shelters had served their purpose; providing protection during enemy air raids and saving many lives in the process. Without the threat of air raids once the war had ended, however, the air raid shelters were no longer needed to fulfil their original function. 

ARP Shelter Demolition (1945-07-26) by Hull Corporation, City Engineers DepartmentHull History Centre

Home Office leaflet of peace time uses for shelters, 1946 For those retaining shelter materials the Home Office Civil Defence Department published leaflets offering advice and instructions on how to transform Anderson and Morrison shelters and other civil defence materials for peace time use.

Home Office Exhibition Leaflet of peace time uses for shelters (1946-05) by Home OfficeHull History Centre

Leaflet for how to adapt a shelter into a coal bunker, 1946

Leaflet for how to adapt a shelter into a coal bunker (1946) by Home OfficeHull History Centre

Did You Know? 
1,788 people in Hull Corporation properties applied to retain their domestic air raid shelter

Leaflet for how to adapt a shelter into a pergola (1946) by Home OfficeHull History Centre

Credits: Story

We would like to thank Hull University Archives (HUA) for allowing the use of images in telling the story of Hull's transition from war to peace after the Second World War. We also would like to extend our thanks to the James Reckitt Library Trust whose grant has enabled the Hull History Centre to catalogue the Local Studies books and archive collections, some of which can be viewed in this story.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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