Dress up 1940s style and come along to Blitz Hill
12th June 2014
It’s that time of year again when Blists Hill Victorian Town is transformed into Blitz Hill, for an ‘Evening on the Home Front’. The gates open at 6pm on Saturday, 21st 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, including the Home Guard, ARP Warden and WVS. 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. Alongside the canal the Blists Hill Volunteer Fire Service will be training with their 1940 steam powered Fire Engine whilst the in Foundry you can witness the spectacle of scrap cast iron being melted down and cast into new goods for the war effort.
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 performance 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.
John Challen, Operations Manager at Blists Hill Victorian Town said, “Last year the event was a great success and we hope that this year as many of our visitors as possible will join in with the spirit of the night and come along in 1940s civilian costume”.
1940s Fashion Hints
Here are a few fashion hints for anyone needing inspiration for their costume.
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 that 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 their Brylcreemed hair.
Needless to say, everyone carried a gas mask.
Tickets to the Blitz Hill evening event must be purchased in advance from the entrance shop at Blists Hill Victorian Town or any of the other Ironbridge museums. They are priced at £8.50 for adults and seniors, £5.50 children aged 3-15 years and £25 family (two adults and two children). All under 16s must be accompanied by an adult. Ironbridge Gorge Museum Annual Passport Tickets are not valid for this evening.
For further information, contact the Ironbridge Visitor Information Centre on Tel: 01952 433 424 or visit www.ironbridge.org.uk. The Gorge is easily reached via the M6 and M54 motorways exiting at Telford (M54 junction 4 or 6).