1940s Weekend: Civic Hall’s showtime special

Paul Harper
Paul Harper

The Civic Hall is to take centre stage in the 1940s Weekend in Brighouse.

Built in 1868 by the Town Hall Company and opened by Sir George Armytage, it was built for the use of the townspeople. It has staged orchestral concerts, entertainment and was once the Court House, before becoming the “Savoy” cinema.

In this building designed for the people, the BBI are staging three events to celebrate the 1940s. In those days, when times were hard, community spirit was essential and war films were produced to keep the public optimistic about the war.

The film, Ice Cold in Alex, was made for that reason, to show the determination of the British to win.

The film stars John Mills, Sylvia Syms, Harry Andrews and Anthony Quinn. This dramatic film takes you into the desert to fight the elements and the sand, led on only by the thought of the reward at the end. The film show includes a pie and peas supper and is shown today (Thursday) at 7.30pm.

On Friday the Civic will be turned into A Grand Hotel with its Palm Court lounge. Here, the Palm Court Orchestra will play for you to dance the night away with the British music of the era, ably assisted by Paul Harper and Major Swing who will help you recall the dances that kept Britain fighting. A light buffet is included with the ticket.

And, if that’s not enough, on Saturday the Civic is the venue for a variety show with a short matinee at 2pm and a full show at 7.30pm featuring the likes of which have never been seen in Brighouse before. All the big names will be there: Big Crosby, George Formby, Flannigan and Allen, Vera Lynn, Frank Sinatra, Max Miller, Al Bowlly, Noel Coward, The Victory Girls, Gracie Fields and a whole host of others.

This show and its cast of artistes is so big that the BBC (Brighouse Broadcasting Company) will be recording for live transmission to the nation. Would the audience please come suitably attired so as not to offend the listeners.

If all this isn’t enough, at The Assembly Rooms in Briggate, on Saturday Glenn Miller is playing for a dance with his lively America beat. The Assembly rooms were once the scene of a regular dance night where all the young at heart gathered to “jive” the night away.

Full details are available in the programme which is now on sale at Ryecorn Wholefoods, Bethel Street; Harrison Lord; Bradford Road; and Simply Flowers, Commercial Street, where you can also book tickets for these events.

On Sunday at Wesley House, Chris Helme and John Spencer will give two history talks about Brighouse and the First World War, starting at 14.00 hours.

Book early to avoid disappointment.

The Brighouse 1940s Weekend has also inspired local artists to produce new artworks which will be on show at the Harrison Lord Gallery.

Brighouse artist Robin Dance has researched into the history of the Halifax Spitfires and painted a striking image of one of the planes.

Birkenshaw artist Alan Holmes was inspired by this year’s 100th anniversary of the start of World War One. His artwork depicts a desolate scene from the front lines of the war painted in black and white strikingly contrasted with red poppies.

Both paintings will be on display at the Harrison Lord Gallery, on Bradford Road, alongside new paintings by famous railway artists Joe Townend and David Charlesworth, whose painting of Brighouse railway station in 1943 was featured in the Echo last week.

Meanwhile Michael Savage has loaned some of his paintings to two shops in Brighouse for the weekend.

His artwork will be on display at Fawcett Cards and Gifts, Commercial Street, and at Le Gourmet Delicatessen, Bethel Street.

You will also be able to see a large selection of wartime art throughout the weekend as part of a special exhibition.