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Nottingham Egg Week

The Black Market in Nottingham

Below is a transcript of an interview with a Nottingham man, a former special constable, about the wartime black market for food and goods:

Q - During the war, you should have been in a very good position to see, there must have been an awful black market in Nottingham?

A - There certainly was.

Q - It must have affected your trade a lot?

A - Oh yes, naturally. Well, I was attached to the Special Constabulary at the Guildhall, which you can see across here, and that was the centre, in my opinion, of the black market in Nottingham, because the police have always had a – you know what I mean – prestige. They couldn’t do anything wrong.

But I was in my trade. If I’d a been – the majority of the special constabulary members were business people. You got such as my boss, he could have been a member. A particular – I won’t say he was a friend but he was a special the same as me, he was a wholesale grocer, you see. Tea, sugar, butter, biscuits, all those sorts of things. 
 
He was currying favour with the regulars, the regular police. Right, do you want some butter, tea, sugar? And that was all going off in the Guildhall there, which is the main police centre, you see. People that could get, on the odd occasion say, a fruiterer could get the odd orange or two or a banana or two, it always went through the Guildhall, you see, and if you belonged the clique you could get a bit of this and a bit of that, according to how your face fitted.

Q - And did the petrol rationing that came into force, did that affect your job?

A - Well at that particular time I’d parted – well I hadn’t parted with it, but I couldn’t get petrol for a motorbike to do my job, so me motorbike as it was then stuck in the backyard and I had to be satisfied with a push bike.
 

Glossary

 
Black market - food and goods sold illegally during rationing
Clique - a  group of people who make others feel left out
Currying favour - trying to win someone's favour
Fruiterer - someone who sells fruit
Guildhall - town hall, local authority
Prestige - something that seems  important or glamorous
Satisfied - happy with
Special constabulary - volunteer police force