Thursday, 18 July 2013

A glimpse into 1940s life: For Victory and Freedom!

Over the past couple of days, we've been tackling the deposits within a cellar on the site of the back-plots of No 6, St. John Street. The structure appears to have been deliberately and quickly infilled around the time of the demolition of the building in 1951, in order to provide a stable, level surface for the car park.

How can we tell that the cellar was filled-in quickly and during demolition? Well, there are a number of tell-tale signs. Firstly, the deposit looks very similar all the way down to the base of the cellar, which is a good indication that it was laid down in a single event. In archaeology-speak, this type of deliberate infill deposit is known as a 'tertiary fill'. The material comprises loose brick and stone rubble, iron fittings, window glass, coal, mortar and plaster - all hinting towards demolition as the likely source for the material.

Mixed up within that deposit of debris are clues as to the date of the event. An enamelled saucepan, mid-century domestic crockery, glass jars and even a bicycle saddle (made by Brooks, who've been making traditional leather saddles in the West Midlands for over 140 years).

Some of the most evocative finds are those which reflect the shadow cast by the Second World War. These buildings were demolished just six years after the end of the war, at a time of rationing and post-war austerity. Reminders of the war would have been everywhere, such as the 'war grade' composite rubber bottletop, still attached to the neck of a mineral water bottle. Our favourite has to be the morale-boosting celluloid keyring below, with a slogan reminding ordinary folk of their responsibilities: 'For Victory and Freedom - It all Depends on Me'!

Rob Hedge.

WW2 Celluloid Token

Enamelled Saucepan

Brooks Bicycle Saddle...
...and the modern Brooks saddle on my road bike

WW2 'War Grade' |Composite Rubber bottle stopper

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