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Pickering’s three-day wartime festival brings town alive
THOUSANDS of visitors stepped back in time for the annual Railway in Wartime weekend.
Despite the rain, people turned out in force to enjoy the three-day event, which turns the clocks back to 1943 to commemorate the crucial role Britain’s railways played in the Second World War and provide a taste of life on the home front.
Re-enactors from across the UK donned military uniforms and costumes from the 1940s, while visitors revived the camaraderie of wartime on trips along the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
Stations along the line including Levisham, Goathland and Grosmont held individual events with re-enactments, displays and entertainment, as well as the traditional parades in Pickering itself.
The wartime theme also extended to Pickering Showground, where there were stalls, dances, vintage vehicles and fashion shows.
Youngsters got involved in the event during an “evacuee day” on Friday with children from local schools, as well as Hull, Stockton and Redcar, taking part. Reception pupils from St Joseph’s RC School, in Pickering, were among those playing the part of wartime children sent from the cities to the country.
School secretary Jane Whaling said: “They got a lot of attention walking down the main street because they are so tiny.”
The original idea behind the Wartime Weekend – which is always based on the year 1943 – was to commemorate the contribution of railway workers during the Second World War. In the past few years, it has grown into a celebration of nostalgia.
“Once again, the Wartime Weekend has been great and people have come out in force with their macs, brollies and umbrellas – there was a real wartime spirit,” said Danielle Ramsey, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway marketing manager.
“Even when an engine problem with one of the trains on Saturday meant there were some delays, we just ran to a wartime schedule rather than an regular one. It was a case of everybody pulling together as re-enactments of air raids went off, and it was great to see people in their military uniforms and ladies wearing 1940s frocks and gloves – nobody was going to let the weather stop them having fun.”
On Sunday, a Remembrance and wreath-laying service was held in Pickering, followed by a parade of military vehicles through the town.
Philip Benham, general manager of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, said there was also a serious side to the event, which is now in its 21st year.
“In many respects the men and women who worked on the railways during the war were the forgotten heroes,” he said.
“They often worked very long hours and had a great sense of discipline and duty. It was a risky occupation yet despite this, what they achieved was remarkable. Our event serves as a reminder of their vital role to help win the day.”
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