WE hear today of food banks and soup kitchens, but nothing compares to the hardships endured by past generations, when there were no social security benefits or tax credits to fall back on for the poorest in society. Could you imagine a scene in England like this today? One hundred children at least crammed into a pub yard, eagerly partaking of the sustenance provided by a soup kitchen at Cradley Heath.
These were hungry times indeed, and local folk could not afford to be too proud to refuse the chance to give their young ones a good meal.
We are not sure of the exact date of this photograph, but it is a good bet that it was around the time of the Chainwomen’s Strike of 1910, led my Mary Macarthur, when there were many hungry mouths to feed in the town.
This emotive photograph is the work of renowned local lensman, E. Beech, who, from his Imperial Studio, in High Street, Cradley Heath, recorded much of what was going on in this corner of the Black Country, back then.
The soup kitchen was organised at the town’s Reindeer pub, just off the High Street.