Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Waiting for Banana Boat; Your Memories: Look Back to the Return of 'Exotic' Fruit

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Waiting for Banana Boat; Your Memories: Look Back to the Return of 'Exotic' Fruit

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL DELPLANQUE

"Yes! We have no bananas", so went the popular refrain from a song originally made popular in 1923 by Eddie Cantor, but during the war the phrase really hit home, because in Britain there literally were no bananas.

Our picture taken just after the war in Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough in 1945 shows the massive queue, which had formed to buy the first bananas to arrive in Middlesbrough in a little over five years.

Soon after the outbreak of war in 1939 the British Government banned the importation of bananas because they were seen as a luxury item, which did not provide any nutrition that could not be replaced by home grown products.

It might sound a bit draconian to us now, but with Britain fighting for its life against the U-Boat menace in the Atlantic, there simply was not enough room on the convoys to bring bananas to Britain.

This meant that children born anytime after about 1938 would have no recollection of what a banana tasted like, by 1945 no one under the age of six or seven had ever actually seen one.

Eileen Davison was one such child and one day shortly after the war ended, her mother Edith heard about the expected arrival of the exotic fruit and took her into town to join the queue.

Eileen was only about six years old at the time and understandably she says she has very little recollection of the day.

But, the Evening Gazette was there to record the event and the photograph that was taken of Eileen and her mother in the queue has been a treasured family possession for many years.

Eileen can be seen quite clearly. She is the little girl in the coat with the felt collar just behind the two prams, she is standing in front of her mother.

She tells us that someone from the Evening Gazette brought the photograph around to their house before it appeared in the paper. …

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