Merton & Morden Borough Surveyor's van.

Merton & Morden Borough Surveyor's van.

Buy a copy

For prints:
Contact Merton Heritage Service. Tel.020 8545 3239 Email:

Picture Reference MerMor_​World_​War_​4-2
Original Format Photo
Notes / History Attached to the sides of this van are posters advertising the National Salvage Campaign during WW2. The campaign was launched by the Minister of Supply, Leslie Burgin, in December 1939 in order to meet the increasing demand for manufacturing materials needed to support the war effort.

It had become clear very early on that availability of a number of materials had fallen back as demand increased. It was in response to this growing demand that Mr Burgin announced the introduction of the scheme to the House of Commons in December 1939. In February 1940 he told the House that “The national salvage campaign of my Department is being organised primarily through the local authorities in all parts of the country. Authorities that are unable to undertake complete salvage schemes have been urged to enlist the assistance of various voluntary organisations and individuals who have offered their help” (Hansard 28 Feb 1940)

The materials salvaged for re-cycling were wide-ranging. They included waste-paper, cardboard, metals, bones, rags, rubber, kitchen waste etc. Of all the materials salvaged, metal was probably most associated with the production of military equipment. Iron, steel and a number of other metals were used for tanks, guns, shells, ships and aeroplanes. When an appeal was launched for aluminium saucepans to be melted down to make fighters the WVS in Wimbledon collected more than 6 tons (Safe as Houses: Wimbledon 1939-1945 by Norman Plastow)

Another material that became vitally important to the war effort was bones. They were in high demand because the extracted fats were used to make glycerine, an agent used in high explosives. Fortunately bones were readily available because they could be collected from the carcasses of dead animals.

Related items


* Required field