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Page last updated at 15:11 GMT, Wednesday, 27 October 2010 16:11 UK
New book reveals how Colwyn Bay fed wartime Britain

The Enforcement Department, who ensured all rationing procedures were strictly adhered to, photo given by Margaret Lloyd-Harvey
The Enforcement Department ensured rationing was strictly adhered to

A Colwyn Bay woman has decided to set the record straight about her town's contribution to the war effort as home to the Ministry of Food.

In her newly published book, Colwyn Bay Accredited, The Wartime Experience, Cindy Lowe describes how the ministry's evacuation to Colwyn Bay in 1940 brought with it an extra 5,000 inhabitants.

"I wanted to get some credit for the townspeople, because they really contributed a lot during the war and it was never acknowledged," said Cindy.

She was disappointed to find there was no mention of Colwyn Bay at London's Imperial War Museum which currently has a Ministry of Food exhibition .

"It became the head of the Ministry of Food for the whole nation, at huge disruption for local people," she said.

As a child she had been told nothing about this, so she set out to gather local people's memories of life in the town during World War II, as well as speaking to people who were evacuated with the ministry.

"No one had asked them about this before and they were delighted to contribute," she said.

"It was the HQ of food, run by Lord Woolton, who had his office in the Colwyn Bay Hotel, now demolished.

"They would have controlled all the rationing and took over 38 hotels in all, like the Pwllycrochan Hotel, which is now Rydal School, the Metropole and Queens. They were taken over as offices or places to live for the staff."

The typing pool for the Oils and Fats division of the Ministry of Food.  Photo given by Margaret Lloyd-Harvey
Many local women worked in the typing pools, some from aged 14

With such an influx of new families, the town's schools were forced to split their time between teaching local and evacuated children.

Many Colwyn Bay people felt their education was greatly disrupted as result.

"My mother-in-law was a teenager at the time and told me how busy and enlivened the town was because of the people who moved in from the south," said Cindy.

"They brought a lot of culture, held concerts, exhibitions and plays and organised choirs and orchestras."

The town's importance did not go unnoticed by the Germans, according to Lord Haw Haw who once declared on his pro-German propaganda radio broadcasts: "Ministry of Food, we know where you are!"

"If the town had been bombed, it would have been very serious," said Cindy. "Food is a vital weapon during wartime."

Cindy has put together a small display on Colwyn Bay during World War II which will be at the town's library during November.

Colwyn Bay Accredited, The Wartime Experience is published by Bridge Books of Wrexham.

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