yeovil at war

British restaurant

Middle Street


In 1940 the Ministry of Food set up "Community Feeding Centres" primarily to help people who had been been bombed out, had run out of ration coupons or otherwise needed help. They were also one answer to combat the severity of rationing. At the insistence of Winston Churchill the name was changed to "British Restaurants". They were run by local government or voluntary agencies on a non-profit basis and were to sell basic, wholesome meals at reasonable cost and 'off the ration'. They were sited so that they were in fairly easy reach of most families.

Meals were sold for a set maximum price of 9d (equivalent to around £1.80 at today's value) or less. No-one could be served with a meal of more than one serving of meat, game, poultry, fish, eggs, or cheese. Ordinary restaurants in the United Kingdom were not subject to rationing although some restrictions were placed on them, for example no meal could have more than three courses and the maximum price was five shillings (around £12 at today's value).

British Restaurants were quick and cheap to set up because existing halls were requisitioned for the purpose. Church halls and working men's clubs were typical locations because they already had basic cooking facilities and tables and chairs. In Yeovil the Liberal Club in Middle Street was commandeered. The meals could be provided cheaply because the catering, cooking, washing up, and so forth were all done by unpaid volunteers, this was often older women who regarded their input as a contribution to the war effort. At their height, in 1942, there were more than two thousand British Restaurants across the UK.

British Restaurants were renamed "Civic Restaurants" in 1946 but were disbanded in 1947.


The Liberal Club in Middle Street which became Yeovil's "British Restaurant" in 1940.