Restaurant based on World War canteens to tackle malnourishment in pensioners

This community scheme will recreate war time dining.

A pop-up restaurant based on the subsidised canteens that kept the public nourished during both World Wars will be recreated for pensioners in Liverpool. Diners will be served food typical of both eras, between 1914-18 and 1939-45, at the temporary kitchen in February and March.

The scheme – which is aimed at older people – is being run by Bryce Evans, an Associate Professor in History at Liverpool Hope University, who hopes it will help identify people at risk of being malnourished or underweight. Music from both wars will be played during lunch and there will be a space for dancing.

Dr Evans, who will give a brief talk on food during the wars before both sessions, said: “Social eating was a fixture of British society 100 years ago. This event will hopefully prove it can be helpful again – we will in a way that is creative and yet faithful to the history.

“We will also use the event to also check if anyone who comes is under-weight or needs support to stay properly nourished.

“This just involves a really simple armband tests, when a paper armband on the person’s wrist or arm is moved up and down. If it can move up and down too easily there may be an issue with the person being underweight.”

Dr Bryce Evans

National Kitchens ran in the UK between 1917 and 1919, offering simple meals at subsidised prices. A bowl of soup, a joint of meat and a portion of side vegetables cost 6d – just over £1 in today’s money, while puddings, scones and cakes could be bought for as little as 1d (about 18p).

More: Historian David Olusoga set to give special talk a St George’s Hall this March. 

The model returned in World War II, when more than 2000 British Restaurants were opened between 1943-1947. The restaurant will be run at Liverpool Age Concern, on Townsend Lane, Clubmoor from 11:30am on Wednesday, February 27 and Wednesday, May 1.

Dr Evans ran similar events last year, which were featured on BBC Breakfast, at Constellations in the Baltic district.


With a history extending 175 years, Liverpool Hope has a rich heritage that pre-dates many ‘red brick’ universities, but remains focused on the future. To find out more head to www.hope.ac.uk 

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