Thursday, May 7, 2020

VEDay75 - 8th May 2020

75 years ago today, a crowd was gathering on Wood St, communities across the district were stringing up bunting and setting up trestle tables. After 6 years of conflict, the Second World War was finally nearing its end with victory declared in Europe. There was a sense of relief and an air of celebration across the country. 

Oh yes, we went to celebrate in the Bull Ring. You felt very relieved that no one else was going to be killed.

Kathleen Turner (evacuated from Jersey to Wakefield), 17 on VE Day

As we mark the anniversary of VE Day in 2020, we are privileged to have recollections, photographs and even film footage captured by local people who were celebrating on 8th May 1945. Take some time to experience the day through their eyes and words.

Dancing in the streets

This amateur footage taken by a local businessman shows soldiers, Wrens and the Home Guard parading, as the atmosphere in the city centre builds. In Wood Street, specially erected spotlights have replaced blackout blinds and revellers fill the streets ready to dance into the night.

V.E. CELEBRATIONS (1945), 16mm, Black & White, Silent

Film ID: YFA 2343,

I went up into Wood Street with some friends and we were dancing in the street.  There was a fantastic atmosphere and there were crowds of people. 

Betty Littlewood, 14 on VE day

I must have gone in the afternoon and stayed over into the evening.  All the lights were on - everything looked so much better, so much happier and brighter.  Everyone was singing and dancing and shouting to one another.  It was a very lovely day.

Edna Morrell, 17 on VE day


You couldn't get any beer, everyone had drunk it by about 6.30. 

Herbert Spurr, early 20s (20/21) on VE Day

Community Spirit

Away from the city, communities that had supported each other through the war were coming together again, this time in celebration.

Neighbours gather for a group photo at a street party on Nevison Avenue, Pontefract

Crossley Street, Featherstone trimmed up for the occasion

We had a street party at the end of the war.  We'd borrowed some trestles and tables from the chapel, and we had all sorts of food and games.  We had a real celebration.

I lived in a mining village, everybody worked at the pit, they were all friendly and would help each other out.  That was our strength during the war.

Sid Wilkinson, 14 on VE Day

Well done Fryston lads

In the mining community of Fryston, amateur photographer, Jack Hulme, was on hand, as he so often was, to record the occasion. In the mid 20th century, former coal miner and local hairdresser, Jack caught everyday life on camera, photographing his family and neighbours at work and play, creating an extraordinary record of his community. Jack was known and trusted by his subjects and his works are honest, affectionate and often humorous. His VE Day photographs are no different, capturing all the local camaraderie on camera and giving us a glimpse into the anticipation and merriment of the day.

Although we can’t take to the streets as they did in 1945, many of us will still be commemorating the anniversary of VE Day in our homes today. Let us know how you are marking the occasion. If, like Jack Hulme, you are recording the day on camera, we’d love to see your photos. Get in touch on our social media channels or leave us a message below.

You can explore these fabulous images in more detail and find out more about Jack Hulme in our VE Day teaching resource, available to download on our Schools at Home page.

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