Petrol rationing

It’s my dad’s birthday today – he would have been eighty one. So I was thinking of something to write and looking through a box of stuff I have saved after he passed away three years ago

I came across these petrol ration coupons.

In the wake of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, the Arab oil-producing countries (OPEC) imposed an embargo on supplies to the US on 20 October 1973. For the wider world, oil prices went through the roof, from around $3 a barrel before the war to over $11 by early the following January.

My readers of a certain age may well have a memory of the three-day week – power cuts, flickering candles and the early shutdown of television at 10.30pm every night. I have been employed in an office all my life and I can remember the lights and the heating going off and having to work by candlelight.

Early in December 1973, the chancellor, Anthony Barber, told the cabinet that the country was facing its worst crisis since the second world war, triggered by the decision of Arab oil producing states to quadruple the price of oil, coupled with an overtime ban by the miners and the power industry workers.

On December 4, Peter Walker, the trade and industry secretary, told the cabinet that falling coal stocks at the power stations would make indiscriminate electricity blackouts inevitable by the end of February unless emergency action was taken.

Mr Walker said that the government’s policy of denying the Americans the use of UK airbases during the Yom Kippur war may have put Britain at the top of the list of countries regarded as friendly by the Arab states, but it had not stopped the cabinet having to consider petrol rationing.

More than 18 million petrol ration books were printed, 12 million “supplementary coupons”, 20 million forms and 7 million envelopes, and distributed to post offices and motorists to beat the Christmas rush.

In the event the petrol rationing books / coupons were not used.

Here’s a link to an article in the The Guardian from 2004 about the oil crisis and a veto on the Queen


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