1940s Weekend: Recalling a rollercoaster decade

Brighouse 1940s Weekend
Brighouse 1940s Weekend

We are taking a trip down memory lane in this week’s Echo as Brighouse prepares to host the eagerly awaited spectacular 1940s Weekend once more.

The clocks will be turned back 70 years to the bygone days of the home front, make do and mend, dance music and variety shows.

The 40s was a roller coaster decade with terrible lows and tremendous highs like no other period in history. For those who lived through this era it was also a time of great camaraderie when people came together to support each other in the hard times as well as the good. Community spirit came to the fore as never before, and in Brighouse the community has come together once again to create this amazing event.

The Brighouse Business Initiative is proud to bring the memories of those ten tumultuous years flooding back. Over four fabulously nostalgic days Brighouse will turn the clock back enabling you to relive, or experience for the first time, the sights, sounds and flavours of what Winston Churchill called “our finest hour”.

The event is celebrating an era of keeping calm and getting through, making the best of what little we had and taking consolation from the fact that we were all in it together.

At the same time 2014 is an especially important year for anniversaries. It was 100 years ago that Britain went to war against Germany and her allies in what, at the time, was called the “war to end all wars”.

Sadly, only 21 years later World War Two started and, after nearly five years of heavy defeats, the tide began to turn with the invasion of France on June 6, 1944. The D-Day landings were almost to the day 70 years ago and although many lives were lost this marked the beginning of the end of World War Two.

So it was with these important anniversaries in mind that this year’s Brighouse 1940s Weekend has been planned to not only celebrate a unique decade but also to remember the great sacrifices made by many to allow us to live in the style we do today.

Evening entertainment in the form of cinema, dances and variety shows takes place from Thursday to Saturday.

The 40s was the era of the cinema. In those pre-television days the cinema was a hub not only of entertainment but also news. The Pathe newsreels allowed those left at home, all be it in a censored way, to see what the armed services were experiencing around the world.

Today (Thursday) the Civic Hall is transformed into such a cinema for the night with a screening of the classic wartime film “Ice Cold in Alex”. Starring John Mills, it portrays a true story of army personnel attempting a dangerous trek across the desert.

Light relief in the 40s often came in the form of dances and dance music. On Friday night at the Civic Hall you will be transported back to to this golden era with the Palm Court Dance Orchestra, accompanied by DJ Major Swing. Dress up, put on your dancing shoes and roll back the years.

Light entertainment flourished in those days and it will be celebrated in all its many forms throughout the weekend. BBC radio was a must for most people on an evening and on Saturday night at the Civic Hall a fabulous variety show will take to the stage to broadcast to the nation, if the link back to the studio in 1944 is working that is!

Meanwhile, also on Saturday night, at the Assembly Rooms, the NyteBeat Swing Band recreates the wonderful sounds of Glenn Miller for an enjoyable night of nostalgic dancing.

Throughout the extended weekend Brighouse will be alive to the sights and sounds of the 40s. Shops will be staffed by assistants in period costume, windows will be decorated and re-enactors from all walks of life will start to take to the streets.

Two stages will be the focus for a constant programme of professional singers and musicians while displays, dancing, a huge food and vintage market, vintage vehicles and even canal boat trips will provide entertainment for the whole family throughout the town.

Bethel Street car park has been turned into a military history display area with full size replica aircraft, tanks, artillery and a whole host of military vehicles to see.

On Saturday afternoon the real thing is expected to put in an appearance in the form of a RAF Battle of Britain Hawker Hurricane soaring over the rooftops.

These are just a few of the highlights of what promises to be an unforgettable four days.