1940s Weekend: D-Day commemorations at Calderdale’s biggest event

Brighouse 1940s Weekend
Brighouse 1940s Weekend

Brighouse is ready to stage the biggest regular event in Calderdale – The Brighouse 1940s Weekend.

With the D-Day landings happening 70 years ago today, the plan is for the whole town centre to be like the South of England in June 1944, filled with military vehicles, equipment and soldiers ready for action. Sirens will be sounded to mark the occasion.

The 1940s Weekend is organised and paid for by the volunteers of the Brighouse Business Initiative (BBI).

John Buxton, event co-ordinator, said: “We could go on and on, but this year we have really pushed the boat out, the list is too long – come and see for yourself.

“Our town centre will be entirely traffic free for the weekend. You can just walk around our level streets and enjoy the atmosphere. One display leads to another.

“With music in the air, sights to see and good food and drink available all around, what more could you wish for? And it’s all free to enter.”

A whole host of events will take place on Saturday and Sunday as part of the 1940s Weekend.

A Hurricane fly-over is planned for Saturday afternoon, just as the famous Brighouse and Rastrick Band plays the Dam Busters March.

And it’s not just the military side of the 40s that is being remembered. During both Saturday and Sunday the town will be filled with music of the era, both on the streets and in local pubs and restaurants and at night with entertainment.

The whole town is catching 1940s fever with residents digging out 1940s clothes, gramophones, newspapers, recipe books and even furniture!

Shops are ready with staff all dressed up in 40s gear and window displays are taking shape. Charity shops have been saving 40s style clothes and grandma’s wardrobe has been robbed. Fox furs are in abundance.

Sue Bellamy, of the lingerie shop Brief Encounter, reports that seamed stockings and tights are selling like hotcakes.

You can let your hair down or even have it done in 40s style at one of the many shops and stalls offering 40s hairstyling and fashion.

There will be parades and a Remembrance service, as well as singing and dancing in the streets.

Another organiser Steven Lord, of the Harrison Lord Gallery, said: “Everybody I speak to is really excited about the event.

“Far more people than last year are planning on dressing up 40s style and joining in the festivities.

“We have doubled the size of the event from last year and added lots more entertainers who will perform on two stages in the town.”

King George VI, after taking the salute at Dunkirk on Saturday, is rushing back to Brighouse overnight to celebrate with the friendly residents.

Winston Churchill will be walking around and delivering his famous speeches. Keep an eye open for a surprise visit by Supreme Allied Commander Lord Mountbatten.

There will also be barge trips on the beautiful canal all weekend from Sainsbury’s moorings. What a weekend!

Lesley Adams, chairwoman of the BBI, is expecting bumper crowds over the weekend.

“Last year we had 100,000 visitors and this year we could have even more,” she said.

“To make sure everybody has a great time we have taken over Bethel Street and Thornton Square, as well as Commercial Street so that there is a lot more space for people to circulate.

“We have arranged a park and ride from Armytage Road, which will be well signed around the town and is just off Junction 25 on the M62 in the Brighouse direction.

“A vintage bus that used to serve Brighouse in the 1940s will bring you to the town centre bus station.

“Also, operating from Lawson Road, will be free vintage bus rides around town every 30 minutes.

“If you come by train and your legs give out, they will give you a free lift back to the station.”

She added: “We would like as many people to come by public transport as possible. It’s only a short walk into town from both the bus station and railway station.

“Grand Central and Northern Rail have been really supportive and GC ambassadors and Northern Rail customer service staff will be on hand in the railway station to help you get the most out of the day in Brighouse.”

As John says: “Come and join in the fun, meet people, make friends, renew friendships, recall the memories and be happy in Brighouse - the place to be.”