Melton returns to the 1940s for a memorable weekend of fun

There was a special atmosphere in Melton at the weekend.

By Nick Rennie
Monday, 30th August 2021, 6:28 pm
The 40s Melton weekend EMN-210830-165302001
The 40s Melton weekend EMN-210830-165302001

The town was dominated by the sights, the sounds and the smells reminiscent of England during the Second World War.

On both Saturday and Sunday we were transported back eight decades for the first ever 40s Melton Weekend.

People strolled around in period clothes and military uniforms from the era.

Then and now - a modern day police officer poses with one from the 1940s at the 40s Melton weekend EMN-210830-165434001

There was a lifesize replica of a Hurricane aircraft in Play Close and re-enactors, such as Prime Minister Winston Churchill, recreated stirring wartime speeches.

It was great fun for people of all ages with vintage fairground rides and trips on a mini steam train also enjoyed by many.

And it was so succesful that a date has already been set for the town to do it all again - the weekend of May 14 and 15, 2022.

Sharon Brown, one of the organisers, told the Melton Times: “People said it was just like back in the day when we had Melton Day, where it was free entry, everything was going on and the families enjoyed a really nice day.

People dressed in period clothing in Church Street at the 40s Melton weekend Photo Caroline Jane Gibson EMN-210830-165313001

“A lot said it took them back to all that and what that was all about.

“Both days were absolutely amazingly attended with visitors from out of town and Melton people.

“All the car parks were full and the hotels were all booked up - the whole town did well out of it.

“It was just what families needed after what we’ve been through with the pandemic.”

A lifesize replica of a Hurricane aircraft and the popular mini steam train at the 40s Melton weekend EMN-210830-165230001

There were some poignant moments during the weekend, particularly when a Spitfire roared overhead on both days, the planned Dakota flypast on the Saturday having been cancelled due to technical reasons.

“The flyover was amazing, everybody went silent,” recalled Sharon.

“Then everyone clapped and cheered and waved. You can imagine with a lot of them dressed up it was quite a moving sight.”

The speeches by re-enactors also brought back memories for some of the older attendees.

Some of the wartime Polish food available for tasting at Polish Heritage Academy of Melton Mowbray stand at the 40s Melton weekend EMN-210830-165251001

Sharon said: “Churchill did his speech and a really elderly man came up to him afterwards and he said that it brought back memories for him.

“He told him ‘the last time I heard that speech I was 10-years-old and my grandparents and my mum and dad and brothers and sisters were all in the same room and that was the last time my family were all together alive’. He said it was a good memory because he envisioned all his family there again together.”

One of the most popular areas of the park was that occupied by members of the Polish Heritage Academy of Melton Mowbray, who were illustrating the important roles Poles played in the war.

There was a stunning replica of a Hurrican which was part of the Polish Squadron 303, which proved so successful in duels with the Luftwaffe.

A stand also served traditional food which would have been eaten by Polish people in the 1940s.

Sharon said: “I was really proud of how people took on board the Polish heritage academy.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivers a stirring speech at the 40s Melton weekend EMN-210830-165445001

“I had a phone call afterwards which brought tears to my eyes.

“A man who visited who was in the war told me that if it wasn’t for the Polish we wouldn’t have won the war.

“He said he was blown away that we took the time to involve them in the day.”

There were plenty of educational opportunities for people to learn more about what life was like in those days and more re-enactors have already shown an interest in being involved when the event returns next May.

Miss Lily Lovejoy delighted crowds by performing songs from the wartime era and a period tea dance also went down well.

With visitors from far and wide, including Scotland and Yorkshire, the weekend was also a nice boost for the local economy.

Sharon added: “The feedback from the whole town was actually amazing.

“It was just fantastic seeing families of all ages, whether it was two-year-olds or 90-year-old, having fun.”

Four ladies dressed in 1940s fashions at the 40s Melton weekend Photo Ian Kent EMN-210830-165334001
Miss Lily Lovejoy who sang wartime songs at the 40s Melton weekend EMN-210830-165404001
A police officer from the 1940s at the 40s Melton weekend EMN-210830-165240001
The scene in Play Close park at the 40s Melton weekend EMN-210830-165424001
A lifesize replica Hurricane aircraft at the Polish heritage stand at the 40s Melton weekend EMN-210830-165324001