Grundy Tray

Aluminium catering equipment has changed little in decades and the items used in a modern kitchen are often interchangeable with those from a century ago. When catering for large numbers of people, it is essential to have large and efficient cooking vessels, especially if cooking is to be undertaken in less than ideal conditions such as in the field. One of those long lasting items of cookware is what is commonly referred to as a ‘Grundy’ tin:imageThis is an oblong aluminium tin with a lid that comes in a variety of sizes. The flat top allows these dishes to be stacked on top of each other in an oven to allow the most efficient use of the space and fuel to cook large quantities of food in a single sitting. The lid is a simple stamped piece of aluminium, but fits snugly over the lower pan. Removing the lid allows the dish to be used as a serving tray:imageThese dishes were used extensively in prisons, army camps, schools and by the Civil Defence organisations for emergency feeding after a disaster such as bombing or a nuclear strike. Here we see the tins being used by a Civil Defence welfare group demonstrating cooking in the field:imageThe example we have tonight is dated 1948 and has the Royal cypher stamped on the lid:imageThis is repeated of the main  pan:imageAs these are stamped with GR rather than the /|\ mark, they were for civil use and so might have been for a prison, school or most relevantly for us to see service with the Civil Defence organisations.

The front of the lower pan has a handle attached to allow the dish to be pulled from a hot oven easily:imageAlthough named Gundy tins after the original manufacturer of this ware, this example was made by Watsons Engineering Service, Enfield:imageContainers such as this were essential to feed people in emergencies and the level of food needing to be provided after enemy raids can be gleaned from this report from a member of the WVS in World War II:

I visited East and West Cowes to find out the position with regard to feeding personnel. Contacted Mr. Preston, Emergency Feeding Officer, and Mrs. Ewbank re night staff. Miss. Weeks took night staff and a considerably supply of stores to West Cowes Police Station, and I took 40 cooked suppers from the Newport British Restaurant to East Cowes Police Station, also urns of tea for East Cowes Rest Centre. Friday morning, arrived Newport 8 o’clock. I took breakfasts to East Cowes Police Station. Miss Weeks collected staff from West Cowes Police Station. During morning sent out approx.1,200 meals, also made arrangements for supplies during day. In the early morning a telephone call from Reading re additional C.A.B staff, who arrived in time for lunch. Eight tea urns ordered on Thursday by telegram arrived during the morning. These were hailed with joy, and all immediately filled with tea and despatched. Attended funeral of Mayor’s son during afternoon at special request. Returned to office and dealt with Police suppers. Relief staffs were arranged from every area to assist at East Cowes Rest Centre, and also relief C.A.B staffs.

All day Saturday collected containers and cleared up and arranged for decentralisation. Took Police Suppers to East Cowes. On Sunday afternoon received an urgent call to West Cowes owing to report of rumours. Monday morning arranged for broadcast to contradict this.

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