A number of railways now run '1940s Weekend' events - I've been involved in the Peak Rail events since their inception in 2006. My report on the 2016 Peak Rail '1940s Weekend' (which didn't run quite as planned) is here and includes a list of all my earlier reports and pictures.
The first '1940s Weekend' at the Battlefield Line was in 2012 when I was driver on the diesel railcar which provided a shuttle service between Shackerstone and Market Bosworth in between steam-hauled service trains to Shenton. In 2013 the pattern was repeated and, again, I found myself driving the diesel railcar. I think I then missed a couple of years but was pleased to be rostered to drive the steam service on Saturday, 17th September 2016.
In 2016, the railway service for the weekend had been expanded. The normal 'Green Timetable' of five steam-operated return workings between Shackerstone-Market Bosworth-Shenton had been strengthened in the morning by an earlier additional round trip operated by the diesel railcar and in the evening by two 'Special' steam-operated round trips. All the steam trains were 5-coach, hauled by 'Austerity' 0-6-0ST locomotive 'Cumbria'.
Re-enactors, in both civilian and military dress of the period and a lookalike Winston Churchill created a 'Wartime' atmosphere.
Winston Churchill meets the public on Market Bosworth station.
There were numerous refreshment and trade stalls in the Goods Yard at Market Bosworth, together with extensive tented encampments for the 'combatants'. All types of military equipment and vehicles, including a replica Panzer III Tank, were on display. The Goods Shed itself hosted an array of stalls and a performance area for Ashby Little Big Band (who are also a regular attraction at the 1940s events at Peak Rail) and the vocalist Natalie Nightingale. On each day there was an exciting (and loud!) battle re-enactment. The programme of events was tied to the arrival of each train at Market Bosworth but, inevitably, delays to the service occurred during the day ("Don't you know there's a War on?").
The published programme was:-
11.50 a.m. Winston Churchill Address to the Nation
12.00 noon Ashby Little Big Band
12.50 p.m. Natalie Nightingale
1.30 p.m. Ashby Little Big Band
2.30 p.m. Battle re-enactment
3.15 p.m. Natalie Nightingale
3.50 p.m. Winston Churchill's "Victory in Europe" speech
4.00 p.m. Ashby Little Big Band
View from the footplate of 'Cumbria' approaching Market Bosworth, with part of the military encampment of the right and the large Goods Shed in the background.
During the day, the weather remained mild and it was gratifying to see so many people attending. Everybody I spoke to thought it a very successful day.
The event had faced formidable competition from 'Flying Scotsman' which made a public appearance at Tyseley Locomotive Works the same weekend, as advertised here. Back in the 1990s, I'd been one of the Instructor Drivers at Tyseley when 'Flying Scotsman' made a number of visits offering 'Flying Scotsman' driving experiences. There's a report on those visits here. I think the opportunity for members of the public to actually drive 'Flying Scotsman' is unlikely to recur in the future.
Our period-attired shopkeeper, Chris Simmons, accompanied by his wife Jo and son Charlie (temporarily an 'evacuee') displayed the appropriate 'Fighting Spirit' by displaying a defiant chalkboard announcing "NO NEED TO GO TO BIRMINGHAM - MEET THE FLYING SCOTSMAN HERE!".
The Simmons family, outside Shackerstone station shop.
Chris's 'Flying Scotsman' was certainly green and carried the right nameplate!
A tinplate 'Flying Scotsman' on display in Shackerstone station shop.
The two evening 'Specials' were well-patronised as re-enactors who had been occupied during the day took the opportunity to make a round trip of the train.
As dusk falls, re-enactors join the first 'Special' at Market Bosworth.
By the time the second evening 'Special' left Shackerstone, it was properly dark.
'Cumbria' ready to leave Shenton with the last service of the day.
Related Posts on this site
'Operation: Market Bosworth' - On the Footplate
Battlefield Line 1940s Weekend 2013.
Battlefield Line 1940s Weekend 2012.
Battlefield Line 1940s Weekend 2016.
[Link to ''Operation: Market Bosworth' - On the Footplate' added 8-Oct-2016]