For the past 18 years East Lancs Railway has put on a 1940s weekend and each year the event has grown so that now thousands of visitors don silk stockings, Fedora hats and gas masks to step back in time for Ramsbottom’s 1940s weekend.
You are also certain to see people in traditional garb including Allied Forces uniforms, two-piece dress suits, fox furs and red lipstick to celebrate the event over the Bank Holiday weekend.
The nostalgic event is organised by the East Lancs Railway and Manchester Military Vehicle Trust to celebrate the spirit of the glamorous decade.
Visitors enjoy wartime re-enactments, vintage and military stalls and a full military parade as well as tunes from 1940s singers and musicians.
The award-winning event draws re-enactors to Ramsbottom, Rawtenstall, Summerseat, Irwell Vale, Bury and Heywood railway stations throughout Saturday, Sunday and this year Monday also.
Having missed last years event I decided that this year I would not, so off I set this morning and drove the thirty odd miles to Rawtenstall station which, when I arrived there had been captured by German forces in full dress and field uniforms.
At the side of the station was a recreation of a field hospital with several badly injured soldiers (models) and demonstrations of the kind of surgery that took place in such crude conditions. The mock-ups were quite gruesome but realistic.
I sauntered up the platform at the station, which was manned by German guards and awaited the arrival of the train. After about thirty minutes the “City of Wells” train arrived packed with people in military uniforms, 1940s outfits including very young children.
On the platform a group of young ladies who go by the name of the “Hotsie Totsies” were serenading the public with renditions of Andrews Sisters songs along with stuff from Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman………….and excellent they were too. I think they said they came from the “mid west”……….I take that to mean the mid west of Lancashire.
Some of those dressed in uniforms and their partners started a little dance competition on the platform.
I had a little walk up into Rawtenstall but very little was open and they town did not seem to have embraced the 1940s spirit. However, the redeeming feature was that I came across a small farmers market and bought a lovely box of mixed mushrooms from Smithy Mushrooms Ltd at an incredibly competitive price.
After walking back to my car I drove the few miles back to Ramsbottom, parked up and walked into the town. The station and the town were heaving with people, members of the American army were on guard at the station along with all manner of American Jeeps.
There were also some beautiful vintage cars parked outside the station, a reminder of an era when engineering was king. And the ladies had really gone to town in their 40s gear…………I haven’t seen so much fur and fox stoles on display for many a year, but oh, so elegant.
I spent about an hour just wandering around the station, watching the steam trains come and go and generally just “people watching” and all under a sunny and clear blue sky.
All in all, and excellent day out and hearty congratulations to the organisers (East Lancs Railway and Manchester Military Vehicle Trust) who must have put so much work into this, they deserve all our support.
Photographs (c) Kindadukish (usually available free of charge in most cases).