Experience life as an evacuee when Wicksteed At War returns to Kettering

Evacuees at Wicksteed Park in Kettering
Evacuees at Wicksteed Park in Kettering

Children will experience life as a wartime evacuee as part of this year’s Wicksteed At War family military history show.

Youngsters will learn all about the boys and girls who were taken away from their families to protect them for German bombing raids during World War Two.

An evacuee train will be running on the park’s railway to recreate what it was like to be taken to stay with a new family, with actors in period costume helping to re-create history by playing the role of those who looked after the children who arrived in Kettering from London.

Youngsters will also be given an evacuee train ticket and a small string-tied box to show how few possessions children were allowed to take with them.

The evacuee train is part of a Wicksteed At War education day on Friday, June 12, designed for children aged seven to 13 (Key Stages 2-3).

Evacuated children from London were sent to Wicksteed Park before they were re-homed and the park has launched an appeal to trace evacuees with memories of the park.

They include children from the former St Dominic’s School in Camden. While the junior and senior students were evacuated to Cornwall, the infants were evacuated to Kettering

Wicksteed Park managing director Alasdair McNee said: “Wicksteed At War is a fantastic event for all the family and a great opportunity for children to learn more about what actually happened and how the war affected families just like theirs.

“With so many key wartime anniversaries both this year and last, it is important that the younger generation learn more about the significance of them and the sacrifices made to preserve our freedom.

“The park played a big part in the war effort, with American soldiers stationed in the Pavilion.

“Potatoes were grown in the grounds to help feed local people and a herd of goats were used to help ice cream as there was a milk ration.

“The cellars at nearby Barton Hall were set aside to be used as air raid shelters and the drinking fountain outside reception was erected in the recognition of the generosity of local people to the United States army stationed in this vicinity during the war.”

Education day activities will also include learning survival skills with an SAS soldier, a World War One field hospital, grenade throwing, a parade ground, a solider assault course, a weapons table.

There will also military vehicles, including tanks, on display, re-enactors recreating wartime life, the chance to meet an air raid warden and model boat sailing.

The main Wicksteed At War event www.wicksteedatwar.co.uk will be held on Saturday, June 13, and Sunday, June 14.

Sponsored by the Military Vehicle Trust, the free family event combines military vehicle displays and re-enactor groups, with a record number of tanks on show this year.

The 2015 Wicksteed At War event has a strong link to the 2014 film Fury, starring Brad Pitt, which centres around the Allies’ final push into Europe in 1945.

The Sherman tank “Lucy Sue” which features heavily in the film and is still made up in way it was on screen, will be on show.

A battle re-enactment in the arena will feature a scene from movie, with three American tanks taking on a Panzer 3.

Battle of Britain Memorial flight will be flying over with a Lancaster bomber on Saturday and a Dakota military transport plane on Sunday.

On Friday, June 12, the park will host a free Purple Hearts night, a Vietnam-themed evening with disco playing great music from the 70s.

On Saturday, June 13, the Wicksteed at War 1940s Ball will be held in the Pavilion Celebration suite, from 8pm to midnight.

Entrance is £3 on the door, but free if you are wearing 1940s clothing.

In the run up to Wicksteed At War, the park’s Pavilion is also the venue for the daytime show The Songs That Won The War, which is a tribute to the era’s best loved songs, including We’ll Meet Again, Now is the Hour, Pack Up Your Troubles, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, In The Mood and many more.

Supported by the Royal British Legion, the show features the D-Day Darlings and will also be performed on May 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21 and 22 and June 2, 3, 4 and 5.