1940s weekends are popular money raisers. I tend to avoid them as they do tend to be busy. They can also vary a lot from excellent to pretty dire. This was definitely excellent and possibly one of the best 1940s experiences there is.
I’d booked to go to the Black Country Living Museum for the day with the local bus company and was really looking forward to the visit. My heart sank when I checked the website the night before to find out it clashed with their 1940s event. Despite my reservations, I had a very enjoyable day.
The Museum had gone out of its way to make the event a success with Union Jack bunting and a definite 1940s atmosphere. As well as museum staff in costume, many local visitors arrived wearing 1940s costumes, carrying their wicker shopping baskets and wearing stockings with a seam. Mother-in-law’s fur coat wouldn’t have looked out of place (although it would have been a bit warm to wear!)
The Army was there in force with army tents and camps set up and check points for you to get your passes stamped. Even the Yanks had arrived. The home guard were out practising with there wooden rifles and there were army vehicles running round. There RAF and NAvy weren’t forgotten, although there were fewer of them around.
Others were dressed up as milkmen, policeman, clippie and even a spiv who was doing a roaring trade with red satin knickers, stockings and suspender belts. There was even a wedding couple.
Windows were tapped up with brown parcel tape and there were war time posters. The British cuppa was very popular with groups of people sitting drinking tea out of a big tea pot with a knitted cosy and plates of homemade cake.
Staff in the houses and shops were role playing the 1940s. Coupons were very much to the fore. One house wife was extolling the virtues of potatoes to a less than convinced younger audience, especially when it came to the chocolate spread.
There was plenty of entertainment from bands, singers, a tea dance in the mechanics institute and a 1940s fashion show. But it wasn’t all fun as shown by the bomb disposal unit and regular air raid warnings.
The two fish and chip shops were doing a roaring trade although the fish and chips were served in paper cones rather than newspaper. There was a hog roast and the buns came with so much filling I was in danger of dropping bits each time I took a bite. It tasted as good as it smelt. There was a bakers (I can recommend the almond tarts) as well as an old fashioned sweet shop.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Yes it was busy and you could hardly move in the main street for people. Photography was almost impossible. I was wanting to take a picture of the pawn shop window which for most of the day had been hidden by the queue waiting for fish and chips. This had cleared just before I left. I was just about to take a picture when two ladies in 1940s costume arrived and stood outside the shop chatting away happily. I waited patiently hoping they might move on. Not a chance. They saw me, smiled and posed. I had to take my picture!
The other downside was that very few of the small workshops in the back yards, which were such a characteristic feature of the area, were working. There were vintage buses running but not the tram. That is a good excuse for a return visit!