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Elizabeth Tunnah (nee King)

(Chemistry, 1944-47; Biochemistry 1947-49)
Shares her memories of food rations at Imperial

When I started at Imperial College it was still war time and all the college accommodation was occupied by fire watchers. By the start of my second year the war was over and it was decided that fourteen rooms, in the New Hostel, should be for women! I was lucky enough to have one of these.

Beit HallThere were about one hundred rooms. Fifty in the Old Hostel, at the back of the Quad near the Union, and fifty in the New Hostel on the first and second floors of the Beit Building. The women had seven rooms on each floor, built in short dead-end corridors, and we used a bathroom on the second floor. I have often told people that this was the first 'mixed' university residence, but I am not sure I am right.

I expect the rooms would be considered very spartan now, but we found them comfortable. We had washbasins, and joy of joys, central heating, even if it did go off at 9pm. This was especially welcome in the winter of 1947.

I think we were meant to be in by 11pm, but this didn't seem to be enforced. Otherwise there were no rules, though I suspect that Miss Sherwood kept a sharp, if benevolent, eye on the girls' behaviour!

We ate in the Refectory and the food was awful! It was a difficult time for food, everything was rationed, even bread for part of this time. The result was that you either ate what was offered, or you didn't eat! I doubt if any of us ever became fussy, and certainly none of us were overweight! Even so, I thoroughly enjoyed my two years 'living-in'.

  © 2007 Imperial College London

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