Friday, April 02, 2010

Wartime economy

Model Railway News
Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker
Spotted in our club library - these newly acquired issues of Model Railway News. Despite being nicely bound by the original owner you can see how World War 2 affected railway modellers. The issues from the later part of the period are on much smaller paper than those before and a few years after the conflict. The paper is worse quality too, the 1940 pages are still white whereas 1944 have yellowed.

In one editorial mention is made of restrictions on paper, the magazine was allocated only 20% of its normal supply, and difficulties in supply to the news trade. Readers are recommended to order copies on subscription to ensure delivery.

Despite this, the contents are still excellent. Famous authors such as Norris and Ahern make appearances. There are photographs, in fact Mr Ahern writes a very interesting article on taking these and uses a set up very similar to the one I use today. The quality of illustrations is amazing too. Presumably more people were trained in technical drawing and so plans and diagrams are clearly presented.

Skimming through it looks like railway modelling continued throughout hostilities - the Hun wasn't going to deprive us of our train sets - understandably people wanted a distraction from the war and so they beavered away in their workshops with what limited facilities and materials were available. Those workshops were also exhorted to join the effort with a good clean up to aid the scrap metal drive.

Finally you can tell a lot from looking at the dates and sizes of the magazines. Early one we expected a short conflict (in 1941 a possible cessation of fighting is mentioned) but later had to diver more and more resources to the war effort. In Britain this didn't really end in 1945. Rationing continued and MRN stayed small until the end of the decade.

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