12 August 2012

1948 Olympics: The Make Do and Mend Games

The past two weeks we have all been full of Olympic spirit and I don't know about you ladies, but I've happily enjoyed watching the diving in HD,widescreen. Last week I wrote about the 1908 Olympics, with its Tug of War and sexy long dresses which you can read about here. As the Olympics are drawing to close and we will have to wait another 4 years to be able to drool over Ryan Lochte boo hoo, I thought I'd tell you all about the second Oympics London held in 1948. I'm starting to think this blog should be renamed Wikipedia.

The Olympics was not held for 12 years with the last one being held in 1936. The Games in 1940 and 1944 were cancelled due to the Second World War, so the 1948 games were the first games held after the devastating effects of the war. Fifty nine countries were invitdue ur Germany and Japan received the cold shoulder, due to a huge amount of hostility during and after the war. Again the organisers only had two years to organise the Games, that's a bit like organising a lavish wedding in a week, beat that Kim Kardashian.

The city was still a bomb site with many of its building toppled or in rubble. The rubble was simply brushed to the side, that must have taken a hell of a lot of dust pan and brushes. Rationing was still in place and was even more severe then it was during the war. How people went without a massive bar of Cadbury's chocolate each week I do not know.

British athletes were given more food and ate whale meat to try and bulk up. Horlicks waItaly's drunk in gallons and it was available at every venue to give the athletes an extra energy boost. Other countries did donate food to poorer countries, with the Netherlands donating 100 tons of fruit and veg and Hungrary donating 160,000 eggs. You definitely can't go without your egg and soldiers in the morning, it's a crime if you do.
Construction materials, food, clothes and petrol were still rationed, so the Games became a 'make do and mend' project. I doubt it was as easy as darning socks or making a skirt out of curtains though.

Accomodation was in short supply due to the bombs, so men were billeted to military barracks or private homes. Women were put up in nursing accomodations, schools and colleges. Unlike the 1908 Games where only 36 out of 2000 women took part, 355 out of 4,064 women were able to compete in 1948.

Competitors had to buy their own uniforms or make them.Thankfully they didn't have to wear long skirts and hats anymore and now had better uniforms to compete in. Sadly there were no sparkly leotards and party makeup on show just yet.

It was only the second Olympics to have an Olympic Torch relay, that was nicknamed 'The Relay of Peace'. Sadly they didn't have a hunky David Beckham lighting it.
 The opening ceremony was opened by King George VI with nearly 90,000 people of all natiotrailing to watch. The ceremony held at the Empire Stadium, Wembley and included a march past of the athletes, the arrival of the torchbearer, a 21 gun salute, the kindling of the fire and at the end 7,000 pigeons were released from cages. This was actually replicated at the 2012 opening ceremony with volunteers on bikes wearing light up wings imitating them. Thank god they weren't real, no one wants to see a tonne of pigeon crap in HD.

A temporary track was built at Wembley Stadium and many government buildings were converted to temporary uses, especially for the media. Sports had to share buildings, with the boxing ring being built over the swimming pool.
The Games were popular with spectators amd tickets to see the Athletics cost only 3 shillings and 6d (17.5p). For the first time the Olympics was broadcast on British television, with the BBC winning the rights to it. The women's swimming became hugely popular for men to watch with the women in scantily clad costumes, some things never change.

The Games included the usual sports such as Gymanstics, Athletics and Archery, but it also included Art competitions. They were held at the fabulous Victoria and Albert Museum and medals were awarded in five catergories, architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture for works inspired by sport-related themes. Who wouldn't want to paint a hunky man in tight shorts?

Twenty seven different countries took part with the literature competition attracting 44 entries, and the music competition had 36 entries. The 'sport' had been held in the Games since 1912 and this was the last year it was in the programme.

We won a Gold medal in the Oils and Water colours subcategory, with Alfred Thomson doing a piece called 'London Amateur Championships'. Sadly there were no Dot to Dot or stick men drawing competitions.

It was for the first time a woman, Fanny Blankers-Koen of the Netherlands, emerged as the star of the Games. Fanny was 30-year-old mother of two children and won individual gold medals in the 100 and 200 metres. She also won in the 80m hurdles and won a fourth gold running the anchor leg on Holland's 4x100m relay team, resulting in her being nicknamed 'The Flying Housewife'. Now that is girl power.

Sadly Britain only won 3 golds, 14 silver and 6 golds finishing twelfth overall in the medals table. This was the first time that a host nation had not finished in the top ten. Yep, there definitely should have been a Dot to Dot competition.

Overall London pulled off an amazing Games, especially after everything that had happened and a profit was even made. It pulled the whole country together after a disastrous few years and it was thought of as a huge success being known as the 'Austerity Games'.
 So now 2012 is drawing to a close we can look back on the three Olympics we held in our beautiful country and remember the winners, the excitement and the fabulous costumes. And of course Tom Daley's muscles and his tiny speedos, they won't be forgotten in a hurry.

Second Hand Rose


  1. Wow thanks for wrapping this up into an entertaining post! I wish the Games was still like this, perhaps it is rosy tinted spectacled hindsight but it all seems so much more sporting than today's high security, drug testing, sponsorship and extravagance!

  2. So informative! Lovely to read, as always!
    Juneli from Fashionably Yours

  3. This is so interesting! I had no real clue about our past Olympic games so this is super helpful! Whale meat sounds so crazy, but when needs must! The fact about the swimming being a success cos of the costumes isn't so different from today - I def oggled at the men... Such a well researched post xxx

  4. I know we haven't been through anything as traumatic as we did last time we held the games, but I think its had a similar effect this time around and pulled the country together once again!

    Really enjoyed it so much, wish we had the Olympics here every 4 years!

    Great post!

    Marie x

    p.s. I replied to your comment on the hair care post :)

  5. Great post,dear!
    So interesting as usually!!
    I wish you a great Monday:)
    Fashion tea at 5

  6. Good read, thanks for sharing!:D

    - Marie

  7. ahh this was so interesting! Loved it :)xx

  8. This was a brilliant read! I really enjoyed it. Certainly won't be forgetting Tom's lush bod, at least until the next Olympics roll around! x
    Island Girl Insights ♥


I hope you have enjoyed my scribblings! Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think, they will be repeated constantly to anyone who will listen! Don't forget to click the follow button and add me on Twitter @Second_HandRose and Instagram: second_handrose XxxX