It’s that time of year again when Blists Hill Victorian Town is transformed into Blitz Hill, for a ‘1940s Evening on the Home Front’. The gates open at 6pm on Saturday, 20th June when the Town is transported 40 years into the future to the 1940s and the middle of World War Two.
Everyone is invited to put on their best 1940s civilian costume and come along for a trip down memory lane and to find out what life was really like on the Home Front.
The war time streets will be filled with characters and vintage vehicles. Pop into the shops and cottages where you can find out how to ‘Make Do and Mend’ and how to make your meagre rations go as far as possible. Whilst in the foundry you can witness the spectacle of scrap cast iron being melted down and cast into new goods.
Make sure that you keep up to date with all the latest news as there will be screenings of Pathé newsreels and public information films in the Goods Shed. For those keen to help the war effort there is a chance to try their hand at driving a working heavy horse under the experience eyes of the Blists Hill stable team.
But don’t worry; it’s not all austerity and hard work around the town as everyone gets a free ration of kali and the chance to keep their spirits up by buying delicious spam fritters and pints of beer.
For a wonderful combination of songs and laughter head down to Morton’s Iron Mill where you can see a spectacular live Variety Show in the style of a BBC’s Workers Playtime Show, the likes of which helped boost the morale of the nation throughout the war years and beyond.
Everyone is invited to come wearing their finest 1940s costumes and to help you get into the spirit, here are a few helpful 1940s fashion hints.
Land Army girls would have worn knee length corduroy breeches with fawn socks, a plain shirt and brown brogues. Alternatively they might also have worn a brown boiler suit or ‘bib and braces’ cotton dungarees with a short sleeved cotton shirt and stout hard wearing lace-up boots.
Whilst the 1940s might have been a time of clothes rationing and austerity, it did not mean that the ladies could not look smart and stylish. If stockings were not available they would have worn leg makeup. Skirts would have been worn below the knee in an A-line or slim line pattern and matched with a cotton shirt with small puffed sleeves. Alternatively tea dresses ending just below the knee, in a small print accompanied by a sensible wedge heel or laced brogue would have been popular, with hats seen as an optional accessory.
Whatever the outfit many ladies would have worn their hair either styled in a Victory Roll or tied up using a snood or turban.
If the gents were members of the Home Guard they might have khaki serge battle dress, made up of high-waisted trousers, black boots, shirts with buttoned pockets on each breast, leather belt and a tin hat or field service cap, alternately if their platoon had not been issued with uniforms, they might only have worn an official armband along with civilian clothes.
Out of uniform, gents tended to wear wide legged trousers with a turn down collared shirt, a tie and a V-necked sweater vest or waistcoat. Both single and double breasted jackets would have been popular along with a trench or wool coat and naturally a hat such as a flat cap, fedora or homburg would be worn over theirBrylcreemed hair.
Needless to say, everyone carried a gas mask.
Tickets to Blitz Hill must be purchased in advance either online (www.ironbridge.org.uk) , from Blists Hill Victorian Town or the Ironbridge Visitor Information Centre. Tickets are priced at £9.50 for adults and seniors, £6 children aged 3-15 years and £26.50 for a family (two adults and two children); under 3s free. All under 16s must be accompanied by an adult. Ironbridge Gorge Museum Annual Passport Tickets are not valid for this evening and dogs are welcome.
For further information, contact the Ironbridge Visitor Information Centre on Tel: 01952 433 424 or visitwww.ironbridge.org.uk. The Gorge is easily reached via the M6 and M54 motorways exiting at Telford (M54 junction 4 or 6).