How Wokingham and Britain Celebrated VE Day

Local Historian Jim Bell has collated some information from the Reading Mercury and Wokingham Times which gives us a fascinating insight into how Wokingham Celebrated VE Day in 1945

ve day 1

Germany surrendered on the 7th of May l945 and the 8th May was declared V-E (Victory in Europe) Day. The people of Britain celebrated and those of Wokingham were no exception.

   The Wokingham Times & Weekly News of May 11th 1945 described the feeling of the residents of Wokingham in their celebrations during Victory in Europe Day as being restrained-sober but thankful jubilance.

 

The following extracts are taken from the report—

 

Fri 11th May Reading Mercury

WOKINGHAM AND DISTRICT CELEBRATE VE DAY

The official declaration of Victory in Europe day was celebrated in Wokingham and throughout East Berkshire, with sober restraint. With a few exceptions, there were no scenes of wild enthusiasm, the populace generally, preferring to observe VE DAY in the privacy of their homes. To many whose husbands and sons are still fighting in the Far East, this was not their occasion for rejoicing—their day will come, with the cessation of the Japanese conflict.

Flags, bunting and streamers were prolific, and displayed from every house in the district. More ambitious residents displayed fairy lights in their front gardens, while business houses and factories made full use of the end of the blackout, by flood-lighting their premises.

The public holiday with no organised entertainment, left no alternative but to continue with their own personal pursuits, and the countryman took the opportunity of the occasion to spend VE DAY in the garden or in the allotment.

Other sections of the community took full advantage of showing thanks to victory by attending Thanksgiving Services, which were held throughout the day in churches of all denominations.

In Wokingham, the day’s services culminated in a United Thanksgiving Service which was held in the Market Place, and attracted a large congregation. The Mayor and representatives of the Corporation attended, and the service was conducted by Rev. Gordon Kenworthy.

At the conclusion, the square was crowded with spectators who remained to listen to the broadcast of the King’s speech.

As was to be expected, local licensed house were prepared to meet an unprecedented demand and so great was this that at times, particularly in the Market Place, it was impossible to gain an entrance to many of the ‘pubs’.

While the atmosphere was most convivial, and the scenes of comradeship and good fellowship were rife, no incidents occurred, the public enjoying themselves with noticeable sobriety.

The large crowds in the square joined in the dancing which had spontaneously commenced to the sounds of relayed dance music, the scene being illuminated by flood lighting from the Rose Hotel.

The fact that the ‘dance floor’ consisted of recently laid gravel appeared to be no deterrent to the dancers, whose numbers increased as the public houses closed. Fireworks and ‘thunderflashes’, also made an effective contribution to this unusual (for Wokingham), spectacle, and at midnight everyone joined in the singing of “God Save the King”.

On the evening of VE plus 1 Day, presumably in view of the success of the previous evening, relayed music was broadcast from the Rose Hotel, and another large crowd assembled to dance outside in the square.

The Mayor took full advantage of this opportunity to go round amongst the people with a large basin asking for contributions towards the “welcome Home” fund, and collected £10 15s.

Whilst the festivities were progressing in the centre of the town other scenes of festivity were being witnessed further afield. In Waterloo Road, almost all the residents of the road, with many friends, joined in the dancing in the road, to the music relayed by Johnny Goswell. The scene was illuminated by flood-lighting.

At Forest Road, Wokingham Without, fifty odd children of the district, having been entertained to a sumptuous tea party arranged by residents of the district at the Changa Service Station, completed their VE day celebrations by dancing madly round an enormous bonfire. The occasion was made doubly exciting for the youngsters for the burning of a Nazi effigy. We learn that this spontaneous treat followed a VE Day-eve party in which most of the residents celebrated on the green outside the Warren House, and terminated in the very early hours in the morning. Having had their treat, it was felt that the children should receive one too.

 

ministry of fuel and power

 

8 May 1945

– VE (Victory in Europe) Day – was one that remained in the memory of all those who witnessed it. It meant an end to nearly six years of a war that had cost the lives of millions; had destroyed homes, families, and cities; and had brought huge suffering and privations to the populations of entire countries.

Millions of people rejoiced in the news that Germany had surrendered, relieved that the intense strain of total war was finally over. In towns and cities across the world, people marked the victory with street parties, dancing and singing.

But it was not the end of the conflict, nor was it an end to the impact the war had on people. The war against Japan did not end until August 1945, and the political, social and economic repercussions of the Second World War were felt long after Germany and Japan surrendered.

Many people in Britain didn’t wait for the official day of celebration and began the festivities as soon as they heard the news on 7 May. After years of wartime restrictions and dangers – from food and clothes rationing to blackouts and bombing raids – it was understandable how eager they were to finally be able to let loose and enjoy themselves. Colourful bunting and flags soon lined the streets of villages, towns and cities across Britain.

 

 

VE Day was a national holiday

A national holiday was declared in Britain for 8 May 1945. In the morning, Churchill had gained assurances from the Ministry of Food that there were enough beer supplies in the capital and the Board of Trade announced that people could purchase red, white and blue bunting without using ration coupons. There were even commemorative items hastily produced in time for the celebrations, including V E DAY MUGS. Some restaurants had special ‘victory’ menus, too.

Various events were organised to mark the occasion, including parades, thanksgiving services and street parties. Communities came together to share the moment. London’s St Paul’s Cathedral held ten consecutive services

 

 

What You Need To Know About VE Day

 

8 May 1945 – VE (Victory in Europe) Day – was one that remained in the memory of all those who witnessed it. It meant an end to nearly six years of a war that had cost the lives of millions; had destroyed homes, families, and cities; and had brought huge suffering and privations to the populations of entire countries.

Millions of people rejoiced in the news that Germany had surrendered, relieved that the intense strain of total war was finally over. In towns and cities across the world, people marked the victory with street parties, dancing and singing.

But it was not the end of the conflict, nor was it an end to the impact the war had on people. The war against Japan did not end until August 1945, and the political, social and economic repercussions of the Second World War were felt long after Germany and Japan surrendered.

 

ve day 6

Some people celebrated early

Many people in Britain didn’t wait for the official day of celebration and began the festivities as soon as they heard the news on 7 May. After years of wartime restrictions and dangers – from food and clothes rationing to blackouts and bombing raids – it was understandable how eager they were to finally be able to let loose and enjoy themselves. Colourful bunting and flags soon lined the streets of villages, towns and cities across Britain. On the eve of VE Day, bonfires were lit, people danced and the pubs were full of revellers.

ve day 7

VE Day was a national holiday

A national holiday was declared in Britain for 8 May 1945. In the morning, Churchill had gained assurances from the Ministry of Food that there were enough beer supplies in the capital and the Board of Trade announced that people could purchase red, white and blue bunting without using ration coupons. There were even commemorative items hastily produced in time for the celebrations, including ‘VE Day’ mugs. Some restaurants had special ‘victory’ menus, too.

Various events were organised to mark the occasion, including parades, thanksgiving services and street parties. Communities came together to share the moment. London’s St Paul’s Cathedral held ten consecutive services giving thanks for peace, each one attended by thousands of people. Due to the time difference, VE Day in New Zealand was officially held on 9 May. The country’s leadership wanted to delay the national holiday until peace in Europe had been announced by Winston Churchill. New Zealanders therefore had to go to work on 8 May and wait until the following day to celebrate. In the Soviet Union, too, VE Day was on 9 May due to the different time zones.

ve day 8

Churchill addressed the nation

Winston Churchill was the man of the hour on VE Day. Britain’s Prime Minister had been a major driving force behind the Allies’ victory over Nazi Germany and, now that peace had come, the British people were keen to celebrate it with him.

At 3pm on VE Day, Churchill made a national radio broadcast. In it, he announced the welcome news that the war had ended in Europe – but he included a note of caution, saying: ‘We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead.’ He knew that the war was not over: Japan still had to be defeated. Later on, Churchill appeared on the balcony of the Ministry of Health building in central London and gave an impromptu speech. Huge, cheering crowds gathered below and he declared, ‘This is your victory.’ The crowd shouted back, ‘No – it’s yours!’ Despite Churchill’s crucial wartime role, the British public did not vote him back into power in the July 1945 General Election. Instead, Clement Attlee’s Labour government had control of the country in the immediate post-war years. For Churchill, nothing would match his period as wartime prime minister – he later wrote that everything afterwards was ‘all anti-climax’.

ve day 9

The Royal Family took part in the celebrations

The Royal Family also played a central role in London’s victory celebrations. Huge numbers of people surged down The Mall to Buckingham Palace, where King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and their daughters, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, soon appeared on the balcony to wave to the cheering crowds.

In total, the King and Queen made eight appearances on the balcony, and at one point were joined by Winston Churchill. While the King and Queen were waving to the crowds for the last time that evening, their daughters were secretly mingling with the jubilant crowds below them. The future monarch, Princess Elizabeth, and her sister Margaret had been allowed to leave the palace and take part – anonymously – in the party-like atmosphere. Princess Elizabeth later recalled, ‘We stood outside and shouted, “We want the King”… I think it was one of the King”… I think it was one of the most memorable nights of my life.’

King George VI, like Churchill, also gave a radio address. In it, he praised his subjects’ endurance and called for a lasting peace. He also paid tribute to those who could not join in the celebrations, saying: ‘Let us remember those who will not come back…let us remember the men in all the services, and the women in all the services, who have laid down their lives. We have come to the end of our tribulation and they are not with us at the moment of our rejoicing.’

ve day 10

There was dancing in the streets and pubs stayed open late

The VE Day celebrations continued well into the night. The largest crowds in Britain were in the capital, but people all around the country took part in the parties, singing and dancing. Many bonfires and fireworks were lit to mark the occasion.

An estimated 50,000 people were crowded around Piccadilly Circus by midnight. The joy of the day broke down normal social conventions, and people spoke to and embraced those whom they had never met before. Music was provided by gramophones, accordions and barrel organs, and revellers sang and danced to the popular tunes of the day. Licensing hours were extended so that people could toast the end of the war with a drink (or two), and dance halls stayed open until midnight.

ve day 12

V-E Day, also written VE Day

   V-E Day stands for Victory in Europe Day. In the Soviet Union it was called simply Victory Day and still goes by that name in states of the former USSR. Some early reports in the West also called the day V-Day, but V-E was more accurate, as the war still continued in the Pacific Theatre. Today in France the day is called World War II Victory Day.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantastic Heritage Activities and Medieval Life at Wokingham Library on Saturday September 17, 2019

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As part of this year’s National Heritage Day Celebrations , Wokingham Library joined in with other local partners to host a number of activities particularly related to medieval life as we celebrated the 800th anniversary of its Market Place.

On Saturday we had the The North Downs Lacemakers celebrating National Lacemaking Day with a display of lace and everyone was able to have a go at creating some lace. Children got involved in creating their own shields, inspired by medieval designs. There was even a visit from the Jester!  There is also a display in the Library until 22 September on Medieval Life and Fairs and a quiz for all the family.

There is one more event this week, Wokingham’s Markets and Fairs– find out about the history of Wokingham’s Market Place to mark its 800th anniversary. A talk with Peter Must and Jim Bell. Free, on Thursday September 19 10.30am to 11.30am and places need to be booked at Wokingham Library on 0118 978 1368.

 

 

Heritage Activities and Medieval Life in Wokingham Library

As part of this year’s National Heritage Day Celebrations , Wokingham Library is joining with other local partners to host a number of activities particularly related to medieval life. This year Wokingham is celebrating the 800th anniversary of its Market Place.

Events are free but please book by calling (018) 9781368 unless otherwise indicated

 Lacemaking- The North Downs Lacemakers celebrate National Lacemaking Day with a display of lace and the opportunity for visitors to “have a go”. Just drop in!

Saturday September 14 10.30am to 3.30pm

Get Arty with Norman Shields!- Come and decorate a shield for children aged 3 to 11 years old. Drop-in activity

Saturday September 14 11am to 12noon

Heritage Walks- Join our walks starting at Wokingham Library which explore Wokingham’s Heritage with the Wokingham Society. Free

Wednesday September 18 10.3am to 12noon

Wokingham’s Markets and Fairs– find out about the history of Wokingham’s Market Place to mark its 800th anniversary. A talk with Peter Must and Jim Bell. Free

Thursday September 19 10.30am to 11.30am

There will be a display in the Library between 9 and 22 September on Medieval Life and Fairs and a quiz for all the family.

Wokingham Old Market Place

The Girl Who Climbed Everest-A talk with Bonita Norris at Wokingham Town Hall on Friday September 7

As part of National Heritage Open Days in September whose theme this year is Extraordinary Women, former Holt School pupil Bonita Norris will be giving a free motivational talk called “The Girl Who Climbed Everest.”

Bonita Norris will be telling the story of how she went from novice mountaineer to the top of the world.  

Bonita is a highly experienced and professional speaker with over 8 years experience delivering conference key notes, after dinner speeches and awards presentations to clients in the U.K and internationally.

Her inspiring story of going from novice climber to standing on top of Mt Everest in only two years speaks to the hearts and minds of every audience member.

For more information, see http://www.bonitanorris.com/

The talk will be on Friday September 7 4pm to 5pm upstairs at Wokingham Town Hall

Copies of Bonita’s book, The Girl Who Climbed Everest will also be on sale.

To book a place go to https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/bonita

The talk has been organised by Wokingham Town Council in conjunction with Wokingham Library.Ama-Dablam_Summit.JPG

 

Wokingham’s Trees-Visible? Valued? Vanishing? A talk at Wokingham Library on Thursday July 19

Wokingham District Veteran Tree Association (WDVTA) is a voluntary organisation that surveys and records veteran and notable trees across the borough as well as working as local Tree Wardens. To date their survey has recorded and mapped over 7500 veteran and notable trees.

In 2017 WDVTA celebrated their 10th Anniversary and published an Anniversary Report which includes a description of the notable trees in each of the seventeen towns and parishes. In this illustrated talk, their chairman, Alison Griffin, will describe the Association’s work and findings.

Wokingham Library

Thursday July 19

10.30am

£3 charge

To book a place call the library on (0118) 9781368

Tree 1

Tree photo copyright the @WDVTA

The Oriental Plane next to Waitrose car park in Wokingham

Heritage Open Days-Events at Wokingham Library

PIC BY STEWART TURKINGTON
07778 334771
www.stphotos.co.uk

Wokingham Library will be taking part in Heritage Open days this year when communities celebrate their history and heritage. Between September 4 and 16 there will be a special display about the history of Wokingham Library and we will also be highlighting some interesting facts and stories about the town as supplied by our local history volunteer Jim Bell.

Our Reminiscence Group will meet on Thursday September7, 10.30am to 12noon and the topic will be Wokingham Library and its history and memories of libraries from childhood. This is a free event, no need to book, just drop-in.

If you would like to find out more about Wokingham and the local are, drop-in to our local history surgery where local history expert Jim Bell will be available to answer your questions. Jim is in the library between 9.30am and 11.30am every Friday.

There is also a colouring competition with a local theme for children visiting the library. Hand in your entry for a chance to win a great prize by the end of Monday September 18

hods-logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heritage: Waterbabies Statue

heritage

Heritage Open Days is England’s biggest festival of history and culture involving over 40,000 volunteers. Every year over four days in September, thousands of events across the country invite you in to explore local treasures of every age, style and function. It’s your chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences.

In celebration of this weekend (8th – 11th September) come and explore some of Wokingham’s beautiful historic venues found here.  Wokingham Library also have a display about the history of Wokingham Library and come help us  complete the jigsaw of Montague House. The children can also enter a colouring competition with prizes available.
A related reading list will be available online and a display of related books in the library for those keen to learn more and we will also have a week of articles about the history of Wokingham Library on our blog.

Waterbabies Statue

The statue was designed in 1999 by Lydia Karpinska.  It was Wokingham’s first public statue. Rev. Charles Kingsley, author of The Water Babies, interviewed a local chimney sweep, James Seaward of Rose Street, about his recollections as a child sweep, on which he based the character of Tom in the book.

James Seaward, who had 12 children, was elected Alderman of Wokingham from 1909 to his death in 1921, many of his descendants still live locally.

Can you find the representation of a chimney in the sculpture? You might see Tom smiling back at you!

20160902_103543

Local History Surgery
A great opportunity to chat to local historian Jim Bell who will be in the library to answer questions about the history of Wokingham. A drop-in event. Friday 9th September 9:30 – 11:30am

Heritage: Wokingham Library Moves to Denmark Street

heritage

Heritage Open Days is England’s biggest festival of history and culture involving over 40,000 volunteers. Every year over four days in September, thousands of events across the country invite you in to explore local treasures of every age, style and function. It’s your chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences.

In celebration of this weekend (8th – 11th September) come and explore some of Wokingham’s beautiful historic venues found here.  Wokingham Library also have a display about the history of Wokingham Library and come help us  complete the jigsaw of Montague House. The children can also enter a colouring competition with prizes available.
A related reading list will be available online and a display of related books in the library for those keen to learn more and we will also have a week of articles about the history of Wokingham Library on our blog.

Wokingham Library Moves to Denmark Street

In 1995, a building was started in Denmark Street for a new library.  Before the building work started, the corner of Langborough Road and Denmark Street originally housed vehicle workshops and an electricity sub-station.

It took library staff two weeks to transfer books and equipment from Montague House. The new Library was opened on Monday 28th October 1996. This was a state of the art library which had two separate floors for lending and reference stock. The total stock was 88,200 items, including adult, children’s, reference and local studies, CDs, cassettes, videos and CD-ROMs.

On 1st April 1998, Berkshire County Council was divided up into separate authorities and Wokingham Libraries came into existence with eight branches, rising to ten branches with Winnersh opening in 2003 and Finchampstead opening in 2010.

Source: ‘Miss Baker’s School and Other Wokingham Memories’ by Jim Bell

Local History Surgery
A great opportunity to chat to local historian Jim Bell who will be in the library to answer questions about the history of Wokingham. A drop-in event. Friday 9th September 9:30 – 11:30am

Heritage: Wokingham’s First Library

heritage

Heritage Open Days is England’s biggest festival of history and culture involving over 40,000 volunteers. Every year over four days in September, thousands of events across the country invite you in to explore local treasures of every age, style and function. It’s your chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences.

In celebration of this weekend (8th – 11th September) come and explore some of Wokingham’s beautiful historic venues found here.  Wokingham Library also have a display about the history of Wokingham Library and come help us  complete the jigsaw of Montague House. The children can also enter a colouring competition with prizes available.
A related reading list will be available online and a display of related books in the library for those keen to learn more and we will also have a week of articles about the history of Wokingham Library on our blog.

The First Library in Wokingham

Wokingham Library has not always been based in Denmark Street.  Shortly after the new Town Hall was opened in 1860, the Savings Bank room was used as a Parochial Lending Library outside banking hours organised by the local churches. This continued until 1880.

In 1924, the County Council assumed the duties of library authority in Wokingham.  The first Library was started in 1924 in the town hall and was originally only open on Fridays 6-8pm.  The Library was opened with 250 books. By 1928 there were 934 registered readers and 566 books were being borrowed.

Source: ‘Memories of Wokingham Town Hall 1947 to 2005’ and ‘Miss Baker’s School and Other Memories’ by Jim Bell

Local History Surgery
A great opportunity to chat to local historian Jim Bell who will be in the library to answer questions about the history of Wokingham. A drop-in event. Friday 9th September 9:30 – 11:30am