Mad about the forties

1-40s_vintageCarI mean the 1940’s of course, not the roaring latitude or the age group. In a few days’ time WoodHall Spa will once again be transformed by its annual 40’s Festival. The retro hi jinks begin next Saturday (July 19) and run right through to Sunday night, so expect a weekend billed as “fun for all the family….free entry”.

You can find out all the latest details on the Festival website, including their Facebook feed. There are also some special events organised by supporting venues, including the Petwood Hotel where you can enjoy the music of Brandyn Shaw and his Rhythm Makers on Friday evening, July 18 and on the terrace on Sunday.

I missed last year’s festival, but I did later find myself surrounded by sandbags and taped-up windows while on a weekend break on the Norfolk coast. It seems that the forties really are all the rage and there are dozens of such weekends around the UK.

40s_boy_on_busOlder Woodhall residents will have their own memories of the forties of course, and some may well be bemused by celebration of this period of austerity. I was born during the war and one of my first childhood memories is of moving into a prefab in the snow and ice of 1947; forgive me, but I can’t help wondering what is really behind this urge to relive the forties.

There is no shortage of theories;  a reaction to present-day austerity, or against the digital age, concerns about Europe, media induced fashion – you name it. You may be thinking, well it’s just a chance to have a lot of fun – and so it is – but that does not answer the question: why the forties?

Fortunately one writer has published an excellent article about the phenomenon which I can recommend to anyone inclined to dig a bit deeper. To judge by his picture, Dorian Lynskey cannot be writing from experience of the real thing, but he has done an excellent job of researching the craze and presenting some arguments in his Guardian article, and some of the comments it has generated are pretty interesting too. Here are a couple of key quotes to whet your appetite:

“Because the 40s scene has grown organically, nobody can quite explain why it has happened, although they all have theories. “It’s a collective sense of pride” ……….People like to know Britons in the past did something amazing together. They like to know it was possible. They were some of the best times our country had.” Obviously, this reading is problematic…..”

Or, quoting another writer:

“History in general is changing focus from being about celebrities to being about the rest of us. Heroes and guns have been celebrated a lot but the sort of people who plugged through for years on end tend not be talked about. I do think the resurgence in interest in the home front is semi-political. You have to show the breadth of experience.”


Despite the annoying popup adverts, this is a challenging read. I’m not sure whether it will shed any light on the Woodhall Spa 40’s festival 2014, and maybe the writer and I are taking this a bit too seriously.

Go on, dress up, have a cup of NAAFE tea and have a dance to the music of the forties!

All pictures courtesy of Woodhall Spa 1940s Festival. More pictures of last year’s festival.

2 thoughts on “Mad about the forties

  1. Pingback: Woodhall Spa 40s Festival 2015 | The Petwood Hotel Blog

  2. Pingback: Countdown to forties weekend 2016 | The Petwood Hotel Blog

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