IWM North – Horrible Histories®

 Reviewing Rotten Rationing – the new Big Picture Show


Imperial Museum North has an infestation!

Rattus Rattus, Horrible Histories® popular rat character, is in the house – and in the bin! Bringing a new Big Picture Show to our fabulous war museum.

I’ve been a fan of Horrible Histories® ever since using it to learn all the Kings and Queens of England (in the correct sequence of course).

It’s a tremendous way of making history fun – and now they’ve got their sticky mitts on war time rationing.


Rotten rationing


I’ve been to IWM North many times, and always leave feeling like I’ve barely scratched the surface. What I find so fascinating are the stories. War isn’t just about weapons and tanks – it’s about people – some doing dreadful things, others being brave and resourceful. So I was particularly interested to see Horrible Histories – Rotten Rationing for myself!

In this day and age it’s easy to forget the hard times ordinary people went through, particularly when food is so abundant for us these days.

During the second world war however, things weren’t quite so plentiful with food and clothes being rationed. We were encouraged to dig for victory to feed ourselves.


Digging for victory


Foods that we take for granted today were heavily restricted – what many would eat in a day had to last for a week (though I’d struggle to eat this much sugar and lard in a week)!


War time rationing


IWM North’s Horrible Histories – Rotten Rationing Big Picture Show, celebrates the 60th anniversary of sugar and sweets finally coming off the ration by exploring the terrible truth about life during the Second World War. Through new animations and material from IWM’s collections, you can see how lessons learnt in tough times can be useful today.

Follow Rattus Rattus as he dodges deadly air raids, braves the black market and avoids the Pig Bin Inspectors, to guide you through the rubbishness of war time rationing. With animated illustrations by Horrible Histories’® Martin Brown the images scroll 360 degrees around the museum’s big white walls.

If you thought eating horse meat was bad? Imagine belching your way through Sheep’s Head Broth. Forget MasterChef – you can now catch an episode of The Wartime Grub Show to discover how to make your own Squirrel Tail Soup.


Pic: Paul Marriott . . Martin Brown . . 25.07.12 Martin Brown shows how he does his illustrations for the Horrible Histories books. © Paul Marriott Photography, 72 Portchester Close, Park Farm, Peterborough. PE2 8UP. Tel/fax: 01733 893804 Mob: 07885 439184 email: paul@marriottphotos.co.uk www.flickr.com/photos/marriottphotos www.marriottphotos.co.uk


Walk into a wartime food market, with images projected all around you and cobbled streets appearing beneath your feet. Immerse yourself in wartime propaganda that would make us giggle today. Meet Mr Potato and Dr Carrot, and sing-a-long to wartime songs like Dig For Victory.


Potato Pete


Discover how rotten rationing affected more than just your belly. Children of Britain rejoiced when soap was rationed in 1942 – and can you imagine wearing the same pair of pants for a year? Girls – did you know even high heels were rationed!? The Horrible Histories: Rotten Rationing Big Picture Show reveals all.


Rationing – did you know?


  • Carrots became the most versatile vegetable – replacing sugar in apricot tarts and eaten on sticks like lollies!
  • The abundance of carrots led to the officially inspired rumour that eating them allowed you to see in the dark. The British government needed something to explain their success at shooting down German bombers during nighttime without revealing their use of radar.
  • The Moat of the Tower of London was one of many landmarks dug up during the War for the purpose of growing much-needed vegetables.
  • Life was especially tough for children – the only sweets that were not rationed during the war were cough sweets!
  • Alcoholic drinks were generally unrationed – although pubs used the opportunity to institute their own rationing, limiting customers to only one or two drinks per visit. Often, they also asked customers to bring their own glasses to drink from!
  • Rationing continued long after the war. It was finally lifted on 4 July 1954 when meat became freely available for the first time in nearly 15 years.


Rat with speech for press_credit HH and Martin Brown


Horrible Histories: Rotten Rationing Big Picture Show is only available at IWM North – it’s a free 7 minute show which is ideal for children – just make sure that you find yourself a good spot so that you can follow all the action on the various different screens.

IWM North’s first animated Big Picture Show runs every day at 11am. An extra show at 2pm will run at weekends and during school holidays, when visitors can also take part in a range of creative activities and storytelling.



There’s lots going on at IWM North over half term – there are creative activities and Time Stack object handling sessions, come face to face with a ration-weary housewife, or enjoy free storytelling sessions, performances and workshops. They all tie in to the overall rationing theme of the week, so you can have a full day out exploring and getting creative. Find out more at iwm.org.uk

And for busy mums there are free, self-operated lockers for your bags, lifts to all floors, accessible ground floor toilets and baby changing facilities.

The WaterShard Café and Kitchen offers children’s portions and lunch bags, colouring sheets and toy boxes are available to borrow so children can play at your table side (apparently the toys and games are often more popular with the adults!). An indoor picnic area is also available at weekends and in the school holidays for visitors to bring their own refreshments.

Have fun and let us know what you think of the new Big Picture Show.


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: IWM North

This is not a sponsored blog post.













Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
  • A A A