Petrol rationing – 1957

The Suez Canal, an 120 mile long man made waterway, was completed in 1869. It linked the Red Sea with the Mediterranean Sea, via the Gulf of Suez. This provided a shipping route thousands of miles shorter than circumnavigating the African continent and it became an important route for transporting petrol to Europe from the Middle East. For a long time, it was owned by the French and British, but Egypt’s President Nasser nationalised it in 1956.

From late 1956 until its re-opening in April 1957, fuel supplies were blocked and there were fuel shortages throughout Europe. Britain introduced petrol rationing and drivers were issued with books of coupons for each car. We have several of these coupon books in Market Lavington Museum.

These were stamped with the name of the local town of Devizes, in Wiltshire, and are date stamped March 1957.

We think the unit probably represented a gallon (eight pints) but left the option open for the amount to be changed if necessary.

There were different books for cars of different engine capacities. We have coupons for cars under 1100 cc and 1101 – 1500 cc at the museum.

We also have coupons for a motor cycle with an engine capacity not exceeding 250 cc.

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