THOUSANDS of visitors will be stepping back in time this weekend for the 18th annual Pickering Wartime Weekend.

The three-day event, which starts on Friday, commemorates the crucial role Britain’s railways played in the Second World War and provides a taste of life on the Home Front in 1943.

Stations at Pickering, Levisham, Goathland and Grosmont come to life with re-enactments, displays and entertainment.

In Pickering, visitors will get a sense of what it was like during the blitz, with firefighting demonstrations in the station car park and air-raid scenarios on the station platform.

New for this year will be a focus on fashion, with an exhibition of vintage hats created especially for the event by local milliner, Suzanne Gill. A replica Spitfire will also be on display in the station car park – an apt addition to the event to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Pickering’s Memorial Hall will be transformed to a British Restaurant and soup kitchen. Last year more than 500 people were successfully catered for and it is expected that there will be at least as many customers this year.

The Pontefract Home Guard will be safeguarding Goathland station, which will feature a field kitchen display and agricultural demonstrations using shire horses.

Variety shows and dancing will add a touch of glamour at Grosmont, alongside a hairdressing salon, vehicle displays and an example of an Anderson shelter, which was used widely to provide individual protection for families against air attack. In contrast, Levisham is transformed into ‘Le Visham’ – an enemy-occupied French village under the control of both the German army and a unit of SS troops. Here training demonstrations and the rescue of a pilot from a crash-landed Messerschmitt BF-109 will take place throughout the weekend. Continental-style hot and cold food will be served by locals in the ‘Café Allee de Bois’ including French onion soup and croissants filled with ham and cheese. Between 1939 and 1944 the railways were subjected to more than 9,000 bombing raids. Despite this the Germans were never able to succeed in completely paralysing the network.

“In many respects the men and women who worked on the railways during the war were the forgotten heroes,” said Philip Benham, general manager of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. “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.”

Publishing firm joins the resistance

A RYEDALE publishing company will be joining the ‘resistance’ over the war weekend.

Bog Books Ltd launched its first book tag lined ‘Entertaining reading for an inspirational lavatorial experience’ at the event last year.

This weekend the book’s artist Tim Bulmer will be a Levisham Station, renamed Le Visham, to sign every book sold.

Tim said: “We had such great fun last year in Pickering we thought why not bring some of that humour again, but this time in the beautiful setting of Levisham Station.”

Each book contains a special edition map of Yorkshire with a donation from each one sold going to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.