Power cuts and soda bread - everyone was into #ThriftyLiving in the 1970s

1970s bakers' strikes meant baking your own bread was something people had to do.

1970s bakers' strikes meant baking your own bread was something people had to do. - Credit: Archant

These days, when there’s a power cut I curse. Loudly.

That wasn’t the case 40 years ago. Then it was my parents doing the cursing, or at least I think they were. I was too busy cheering to pay them much attention.

Power cuts, along with camping and icy pavements, cease to hold any sort of allure once you’re past a certain age. But happily for me, 40 years ago I was very much still at an age when power cuts (as well as camping and icy pavements) were the very definition of excitement.

It was the winter of 1973/74, a time of strikes and fuel shortages that led to a three-day working week and scheduled electricty shutdowns. Of course, I don’t remember any of that detail. I just knew that the lights went out, the paraffin lamp went on and my sister, brother and I started doing the conga by candlelight around the living room.

The politics also thankfully passed me by that same year when the nation’s bakers went on strike, making a loaf of bread virtually impossible to come by.


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But in our household, as, I’m sure in many others across the land, resourcefulness came into play. My dad, an Irishman, kept us all going by making regular loaves of soda bread, bolstered by the occasional trip to join the queues at Palmers Bakery in Stowmarket, a business he continued to keep faith with after the strikes because its oven weren’t turned off during the crisis.

Looking back over the intervening decades, I view those days with a fondness that is perhaps the preserve of a child’s eyes.

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But as I attempt to live a little more thriftily I can’t help thinking there’s more than memories to mine for me there - especially as the price of bread continues to spiral.

There surely couldn’t be a better time to start baking my own soda bread. Unlike loaves made with yeast, the humble soda version is quick and easy to make as well as delicious.

And as the smell of the freshly baked bread hits me I could be there, back in the 1970s, especially if I turn the lights out too.

Share your money-saving tips on Twitter using #ThriftyLiving, email sheena.grant@eadt.co.uk

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