THE day after Britain declared war on Germany, Bradford's Lord Mayor issued a statement urging the public to resist the temptation of panic buying.

Alderman John Arnold, just back from an August Bank Holiday sojourn in Morecambe, said it would be very bad indeed for the city at large if people with ready money were allowed to "denude" grocers and provision dealers of their stocks, leaving little or nothing for whose on a weekly wage.

"I trust tradesmen will do what is expedient at the present time and refuse to execute large orders from their customers, which they have reason to believe, are beyond immediate requirements or, at any rate, beyond a fortnight's supply,and then deal with the demands of others," he added.

One of the causes of concern for the Bradford and District Chamber of Trade was tradesmen who had hiked their prices following the news of war between Britain and Germany. The cost of sugar and flour had rocketed.

War threatens stability, people lose their nerve and worry. Just over a century before, Napoleon, through his Continental System of blockade, had tried to starve Britain into surrendering to Imperial France. In the 1840s Ireland's potato crop failed and hundreds of thousands of people died; several millions emigrated to te United States and England.

The folk memory of food deprivation was fresh enough perhaps to prompt anxious people, especially new arrivals who had fled persecution and political upheavals in Eastern and Central Europe, to stockpile food against the day when there wasn't sufficient to eat.

They weren't to know that rationing wasn't going to be fact of life until January 1918. That came about because as a result of the Kaiser, on February 1, 1917,signing the order allowing unrestricted submarine warfare for Germany's U-boats.

This in turn was in response to the Royal Navy's successful blockade of German ports which led to malnutrition, riots and death in Germany. Within three months the amount of Allied and neutral tonnage sent to the bottom by U-boats rose from 368,000 tonnes to 8881,027 tonnes.

Two the consequences on the home front of the U-boat campaign were the rise in the price of food and coal and the official encouragement of allotments. People were egged on to keep chickens and to grow their own food on any bit of nearby spare land they cared to cultivate.

In 1873 there were fewer than 245,000 allotments. By 1918 that had mushroomed to an all-time high of 1.5m.

Under the 1915 Defence of the Realm Act (DORA), David Lloyd George's wartime coalition government of Liberals, Conservatives and Ulster unionists, took more than 2.5m extra acres of land for farming. By the end of the war that had gone up to three million acres.

These measures were not enough to keep the country fed, however. That's why in January 1918 sugar was rationed. By the end of April, meat, butter and cheese were added to the list. Ration cards were issued. Everybody had to register with a butcher and a grocer.

The pattern was established for World War 2