World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                         Norman Noble 

Poached Eggs

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Norman L. Noble
Location of story: Saltaire, West Yorkshire
Background to story: Civilian


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Bill Ross of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Norman Noble.

It must have been during the early years of the War, and I was a youngster of about nine when a buzz went round the streets of Saltaire, the model village built in 1853 by Sir Titus Salt, to house workers at his textile mill near Bradford. Word spread quickly and people left their houses to make their way to the top of the main road through the village.

I went with my mother and we found that a large van, in my memory as a nine year old, something like a modern day furniture van, had collided with one of the poles carrying the trolley bus wires. The side of the van had been ripped open, shedding a lot of its load, and what a load!! To the crowd it was like manna from heaven! At the time of severe food rationing and shortages, the pavement was strewn with eggs and nuts, probably brazils and walnuts as I remember it.

Baskets and bowls seemed to appear from nowhere as we all helped “to clear up the mess”. Whole eggs, even if cracked, were soon picked up, together with the nuts, leaving only those eggs smashed beyond salvaging. In those days, eggs were “candled” – rubbed with candle wax to stop them “going off”. You could also buy a powder known as Isinglass, which mixed with water, produced something like wallpaper paste to preserve eggs. Isinglassis is produced from the air bladder of sturgeon and is also used to clarify wines and beers. The cracked eggs would be served up for tea that day. Incidentally I loved powdered eggs made into an omelette.

Where the van came from, or where it was going, was never known as far as I remember, but its passage through Saltaire was certainly appreciated in many of the village homes that night and in the weeks to come, and is one of my vivid memories of the War.