VE Day Poster 3: Villages
Archives & Heritage Officer Philip Jeffs looks back at VE Day posters in the archives…
With the announcement of victory in Europe, celebrations broke out across all of Warrington’s districts. As in town, street parties, bonfires, and lights formed the greater part of the festivities. The events are so numerous that they couldn’t all be listed here, but hopefully the descriptions below give you a taste of what was happening.
Light played an important part in the celebrations, by VE Day people had lived with the Black-Out for six years and the government sited it as one of the major causes of low morale amongst the public.
At Wilderspool, Greenall’s Brewery flew an enormous Union Flag from their tower lit by trailing spotlights which could be seen from a great distance.
In Lymm 2000 people gathered around the ancient cross which was floodlit by Messrs Saville Brothers, whilst the surrounding shops and houses strung fairy lights out to add to the effect. Pride of place in one lit shop window was a potato that had grown in the shape of a V for victory.
At a house in West Avenue Stockton Heath flood lights had been set up in the garden and trained across the front of the house.
Bonfires and Guys
At Greenbank Gardens in Stockton Heath residents burnt an effigy of Hitler on their bonfire. The effigy was sat in a chair and surrounded by fireworks, so that he “was not only burned, but peppered with explosives”.
At the Fairey Works on Wilderspool Causeway an effigy of Hitler “lay in a roughly made coffin and was displayed to the passing public at the entrance to the works”, above the coffin was the inscription “he’s had it!”.
In Padgate residents of Davenham and Eric Avenues, carried their guy to the bonfire in an elaborate procession. Children at the front carrying the effigy of Hitler, followed by a mixed percussion band of RAF and civilians, followed in turn by a “comic padre and his assistant”. A collection for the red cross was taken on route and when the parade reached its destination the effigy, stuffed with fireworks, was placed on the bonfire. Great cheers and laughter went up from the crowd as his hat was blown of in the first explosion and his armed raised in salute was blown off in the second.
Residents in Grappenhall went one step further and set up an effigy of Hitler with a charge of 1 penny a stab, all proceeds going to the Red Cross.
In Warrington’s newspapers records of parties in every village in the Borough can be found. Each one varies, at Burtonwood party goers were entertained by a troupe of dancing girls provided by Mrs Cowing of the Burtonwood Girls Club, whilst at St Peter’s in town the young ladies of the Bible Class distributed mineral water. Sometimes they were street parties and sometimes in village halls, or vicarages, sometimes they had wirelesses set up for music and sometimes people played instruments.
A common theme throughout all of the parties is that during the day the children get a good feed, plenty of games, and lots of treats. The festivities then usually continued into the evening with adults dancing and putting on shows.
At Fairfield Gardens, in Stockton Heath, the street party was combined with the annual May Day celebrations and both a May Queen and Victory Queen were crowned. After their games and treats the children put on a concert for the adults and an exhibition of May Pole dancing accompanied by Miss Audrey Swales on the piano accordion.
VE Day was not the end of the celebrations in Warrington. The street party at Shadewood crescent in Grappenhall was so successful that during the celebrations a house to house collection was started to raise funds for a VJ Day party. Many people celebrated again when Victory over Japan was announced 3 months later in August.
If you follow our posters you will hear more about VJ Day celebrations and about some of the big events such as Walking Day that returned to the town after a gap of 6 years. Our next poster looks at the stories of some of Warrington’s returning POWs.