Meltham Memories Wartime Weekend gets into full swing once again on July 2 and 3.
It’s the 8th year of the 1940s festival, which commemorates everything from the big band music and vehicles to the military uniforms and fashions of the period.
Last year it was estimated that around 8,000 people converged on the village.
“It has become enormously popular,” says Pam Cox, one of the organisers and landlady of the Waggon and Horses Inn, which transforms into ‘Allied Command’ for the weekend. “It began after myself and a customer came up with an idea. We had been to Pickering, which has the largest 1940s event in the North, and I’d been to Howarth and thought it was such a fantastic thing to have. We decided to take it to the town council and get their support. It’s grown every year since the start. There’s such a great atmosphere. We get re-enactors coming from all over and everyone dresses up. We have street entertainers and you can turn the corner of every street and meet sailors, soldiers and people in 1940s clothes.”
This year’s weekend will feature fly-pasts by two Spitfire fighters on both Saturday and Sunday – times to be announced on the days – as well as the chance to fly around Meltham in a small aircraft. There will be flights on the hour from 10am from Crosland Moor airfield. Tickets are £60 per person per flight with the money going towards organising the event.
“Our Battle of Meltham Memorial Flights proved to be very successful last year, so we’re offering them again,” explained Pam, “but they have to be booked in advance on our website.”
The weekend kicks off with an official opening at 10am on Saturday. At 12.30pm a grand military parade, featuring Meltham & Meltham Mills Brass Band and the Oldham Scottish Pipe Band, leaves the Greenacres care home on Huddersfield Road and will march to the Meltham C of E Primary School.
“We start at the care home so that the men and women there can see the parade,” said Pat, “they love it. You can see by their faces they are thinking and remembering. We have re-enactors with exhibitions of 1940s memorabilia and military displays in the school grounds.”
Pam herself enters into the spirit of the occasion by wearing a 1940’s WREN uniform.
While Saturday has been the busiest day of the festival in recent years, ending with a Grand Victory Ball (music from the Manchester Police Big Band) in the church hall from 8pm, Pam says this year there will be plenty of entertainment of Sunday as well.
The ball is the only ticketed event, with details on the website.
For flight tickets go to eventbrite.co.uk search Meltham Memories.