Marsden's Home Front
VE Day Celebrations
The Huddersfield Examiner reported that it rained very heavily on VE Day - there had been a brief snow storm the week before, even though it was May. But the rain and the delay in announcing the end of hostilities in Europe on the radio, didn't seem to dampen people's spirits too much. Russells in Market Place urged Marsdeners to be prepared for victory and advertised flags, bunting and streamers for sale. A Non-Stop Victory Dance was held at the Mechanics from 8pm to midnight, featuring the Marsden Silver Prize Band, the Melbourne Players and the Elite Players (tickets were 2/6d and Her Majesty's Forces 1/6d). Despite rationing, people really pulled the stops out and street parties were organised all over the village.
Everyone was glad the war was over, but there was a lot of sadness about as well. Cigarettes and beer were very short. Men were roaming round looking for cigarettes. My mother-in-law, Mrs Corden, had a little shop in Town Gate. She had cigarettes that she saved for her regular customers. The day after VE Day, she was not well and in bed. Mr Corden was in the shop and he sold all the cigs to those who came. All had gone before lunchtime. After that, no cigs for anyone. There were some awful brands, one particularly called Tenners. All ten different sorts of stuff went into them.
We'd been dancing at t'Mechanics, me and our Nell, and then we went up to Slawit Hall. There was a bonfire up there and I mean there were no lights even then. There was still t'blackout and we'd a torch. We walked, Nell and I, and - I'll bet it'd be one o'clock in t'morning - all t'way from Slawit Hall to Peel Street. Oh, we might have gone round t'mill end and we got home. I mean mi dad knew he could trust us and you were safe in them days, you really were.
I was working at the (Electric) Cinema at the time. When we finished, there was a dance at the Mechanics, but I went looking round. Thomas Firth's was a plumbers then; he'd put an illuminated sign up outside. Cyril Wood, who had a plumbers at the bottom of Peel Street, had rigged a spotlight up and spotlighted up all Peel Street. And the Church was floodlit; the Congregational was floodlit.
The pubs were going great. They all had pianists in them days you know, singsongs were going right, left and centre. The shops weren't open but at least the shop windows were lit and everything. It had been the blackout - quite a celebration.
I was walking down the street and I saw the organist at the Congregationalist Church. He said "I'm just going into t'chapel, do you want to come with me?" I said "Aye, I will do." I sat at the side of him while he played the organ. Air on a G String we played, I'll never forget it. Then I came out and went to the Mechanics for the last part of the dance like.