D had a 1940s themed school trip today to the Museum of the Great Western Railway and Mum and I were volunteer helpers. It was great fun, absolutely jam packed with stuff to do and the staff were so interesting. (One woman in particular was really helpful, and offered to send me a pattern for the wrap-around pinnies that all the women wore.)
As soon as we got off the bus and were taken into the museum, they sounded an air raid siren and we all had to bundle into the community shelter. With the flickering lights and the sound effects, it was really very realistic. So much so that one or two of the children found it quite upsetting.
After that they got to climb into a steam train and talk to an engine fireman about his experiences working on the railways during the war then they were all given period items to investigate so they could work out what they were. D knew what his removable shirt collar was straight away but the group who had the laundry tongs thought that they were forceps! That made me wince!
They also got the chance to speak to three gentlemen who were children during the war. They asked them about toys and school and their favourite foods. It was so funny watching the other children squirming at the thought of eating heart and liver whilst Dylan was practically drooling!
Finally they had an evacuee workshop where they were all bundled on to a train, shown how little they'd have taken with them in their little suitcase and then they were picked by 'villagers' in the same way that the original evacuees were. The children all really enjoyed it. There were hoots of laughter when they were shown the woolen underpants and cotton bloomers they would have worn.
A big thing I took away from it was how 'vintage aware' I seemed to have raised D. He eats traditional foods, wears old-fashioned clothes and could clearly relate to the experiences of the men we talked to. I was also very proud that he was to interested and respectful towards them.
My favourite bits though were the dressing up and the lunch. We all had to go in costume and we totally rocked it! D wore a pair of cords with braces, an original period tie, a plaid jacket and a flat cap whilst I was in the dress Mum made me with knitted stockings (it was cold), leather gloves and victory rolls with a knitted snood. We even had gas mask boxes, ID cards, rations books and D had an evacuation label (that I had spent most of yesterday making).
Our lunch was forties fabulous too - homemade pasty, spam sandwiches, a bottle of ginger beer for me and a bottle of apple juice for D. I even wrapped them in brown paper instead of cling film or tin foil. We even had a paper bag of toffees to suck on whilst we walked round. But in all honesty, if we'd had the chance to sneak away, D and I would have much preferred a cream cake and cup of tea in the cafe.
I don't have any photos at the moment but I'll update the post with them as son as I do, I promise. And I totally recommend you going to the museum if you get the chance.
Mrs H x