Woolton Pie World War Two

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Woolton Pie, created with Carrots!

The recipe for Woolton Pie was the creation of Francis Ladry, the chef of the Savoy hotel and named after Lord Woolton, head of the Ministry of Food.  Many people had their own interpretation of this recipe, but they always used carrots! Basically it is mixed vegetables, a sauce and a topping , which could be pastry or potatoes mashed or sliced.  The Official recipe as reported in "The Times" on 26 April 1941 is shown below.

Introduced in May 1941, it continued to raise a hollow laugh throughout the war. In fact  Woolton Pie was far from being a laughing matter. Lord Woolton, Britain's wartime Minister of Food, charmed and cajoled the public into eating not only Woolton Pie but a 'National loaf' - pictured right - baked as a 'Victory loaf'.

The Pie was named after Frederick Marquis, Lord Woolton, the ex-managing director of a
store chain called Lewis (mainly in the north of England) and ex-social worker, who was appointed Minister of Food in April 1940. Unglamorous his position may have been, but it was vital to the war effort. It says much for Woolton's personal charm that he was remarkably popular with the public, even when singing the praises of rissoles without beef, cakes without sugar and tea without tea leaves.

Much of Woolton's success was due to his business
skill in budgeting specific items -- he only rationed items of which he was certain he had enough to go around, however small the quantities. This built up a sense of fairness and trust with those who were struggling with their own personal budget and the war effort itself. He also believed that the public should be educated and helped, not just instructed.

This he did by means of advertisements starring 'Dr Carrot' and 'Potato Pete', by radio broadcasts with 'Gert and Daisy' - the music hall artistes Elsie and Doris Walters, and by 'Kitchen Front' spots on the radio and 'Food Flashes' in the cinema. Lord Woolton was also involved with the promotion of Carrot characters specifically created by Walt Disney (picture right). More detail and images here.

Apparently the pie or the loaf were never liked, but by the end of the War, the country was fitter and healthier than it ever had been. 

As a whole the population, was slimmer and healthier than it is today.   People ate less fat, eggs, sugar and meat whilst eating many more vegetables.

Many people ate a better diet during rationing than before the war years and this had a marked effect on the health of the population - infant mortality declined and life expectancy increased.

Let us hope that the country never faces such extremes again. However, it is now realised that the home population never ate so well as they did during and after the war. This was thanks to the strict rationing of shop-bought goods and the amount of fresh vegetables that people ate.

There is a simple message for the 21st Century's increasingly obese and under-exercised population. Take up vegetable gardening and eating, grow carrots and take more walks!

The Official  Recipe as reported in The UK Times 26 April 1941

A modern version (recipe below)

woolton pie original recipe

woolton pie


Take 1Ib each of diced potatoes, cauliflower, swedes and carrots;

Three or Four spring onions; One teaspoonful of vegetable extract and one teaspoonful of oatmeal.


Cook all together for ten minutes with just enough water to cover.

Stir occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking.

Allow to cool; put into a pie dish, sprinkle with chopped parsley and cover with a crust of potatoes or wholemeal pastry.

Bake in a moderate oven until the pastry is nicely brown and serve hot with brown gravy.

WW2 Carrots Leaflet here.

Potato Pete's recipe book, on line here.

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