PHOTO GALLERY: 1940s weekend on North Norfolk Railway
20:39 15 September 2012
Archant © 2012
We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when - but probably same time, same platform next year for the thousands of steam and seamed-stocking fans who once again flocked to the North Norfolk Railway’s 1940s nostalgia fest today.
The customary mix of Captain Mainwarings, Winston Churchills, land girls and Betty Grable look-a-likes picked their way among the sandbags and packed the heritage railway trains and stations at Sheringham, Weybourne and Holt.
Soldiers and their sweethearts tucked into spam sandwiches and tea in enamel mugs behind anti-blast taped windows, jived to Glenn Miller hits or waved fond farewells as the half-hourly train service steamed and whistled its way along the tracks.
Launched 18 years ago, the hugely-popular weekend has truly come of age with thousands now ringing it as a “must” in their diaries, compared to the 100 or so who turned up for the first occasion, according to Chrissie Rayment, event manager.
A regular band of 1,500 re-enactors from across Britain, and one from France, were swelled today by between 6,000 and 7,000 individuals and groups of friends who loved to dress up and wallow in the friendly atmosphere.
“People spill out into the town and it gives the shopkeepers a vital boost in trade at this time of year when a lot of places are struggling,” she added.
Sheringham matriarch Ena Moss and two of her 13 children, Geraldine Bird and Sally Smith, were among a party of 30 costumed members of her family enjoying themselves this afternoon.
Mrs Moss, 97, has been taking part since the 1940s weekend was launched and has an especial reason to remember the war and Sheringham Station.
She was taking Geraldine, then aged five, to visit her grandparents one day when a German plane flew low over the town and began strafing.
“The bullets were everywhere. A soldier slammed us against the station wall and sheltered us from them,” said Mrs Moss. “He saved our lives.”
A more recent convert to the event was 18-year-old Alexandra Taylor-Meeds, paying only her second visit.
“I enjoyed it so much last year that I wanted to come again. I’ve been both times on my own and it doesn’t matter because everyone is so friendly,” said Alexandra, of Charles Street, Holt, who works as a receptionist at Kelling Heath Holiday Park.
“I love the patriotism of it all. I’m a fan of TV programmes like Goodnight Sweetheart and Dad’s Army.”
She wore one of her grandmother’s original 1940s dresses last year but has now started putting together her own period wardrobe.
Railway manager Trevor Eady said the ’40s weekend had become the attraction’s biggest crowd-puller and he was pleased that for the third year Sheringham traders had got into the spirit with about 80pc of businesses decorating their windows, plus many staff dressing in period costume, for a competition.
This year’s three joint winners were Roy Boys Café, Blyth and Wright hardware, and the Westcliff Gallery.
Among the many out-of-county visitors to the event was Lisa Rushby, from Nottingham, who said her six-year-old son Lucas loved to dress as a 1940s boy, took a great interest in evacuees, and had insisted on her buying him an authentic school cap from one of the costume stalls at the event.
German-born Heike Wright, neé Poetschlack, from Burton-on-Trent, was dressed as a landgirl but joked that she was really an enemy spy.
Her grandfather had been a member of the Nazi party and was killed during the war.
“I don’t feel uncomfortable here,” said Mrs Wright. “This is a different generation - and I love the music.”