From Stirrup Pumps To Gas Masks - St Botolph's VE Day Fair

By Catherine Rose | 08 July 2005
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shows a re-enactor in a WWII Warden's uniform and tin hat holding a stirrup pump.

Stirrup pumps at the ready - it's VE Day celebrations at St Botolph's near Colchester Castle. © Colchester Museums.

Gas mask training anyone? Stirrup pump racing? Ice cream? These are just some of the exciting and unusual WW2 activities happening at St Botolph’s Priory’s annual fair in Colchester this Saturday July 9 2005 to celebrate VE Day.

A partnership project between the local community and Colchester Museums, the fair is one of the many free events the local museum service supports each year.

“It’s a chance to work in partnership to achieve a community event that brings the past alive and makes learning, above all, fun," said Marie Taylor, Marketing Officer for Colchester Museums.

The all singing, all dancing street party bursts into action at 10.30am when the Colchester Scout brass band will be blasting out tunes from days gone by, a 1940’s dance group will be jitter-bugging between the crowds and children from Theatre Fun, dressed as evacuees, will be singing for visitors.

shows a group of people dressed in world war two era uniforms and costumes

VE Day re-enactors will be present at the fair. © Colchester Museums.

“The idea is to transport visitors back 60 years ago,” local historian, Andrew Phillips explained. “It’s a focus on providing an authentic re-enactment event for the people of Colchester, especially the kids.”

Treats in store for children include free union jack ice cream and jelly and if you finish the wartime quiz - there will be splat the bomb, giant wall murals, and wartime vehicles to explore, not to mention a chance to taste some ration book recipes!

St Botolph’s suffered terrible bombing during the war, and as Andrew explained, it survived some of the heavieast bombing of the war whilst all around it perished.

Andrew will be giving talks and slide shows throughout the day providing an insight into life on the home front. Visitors can also join the costumed nun and monk on free Blue Badge guided tours.

Saturday July 9 2005 10.30 – 4.30pm
St Botolph’s Priory, Queen Street, Colchester

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Catherine Rose is the 24 Hour Museum Renaissance student journalist for the East of England region. Renaissance is the groundbreaking initiative to transform England's regional museums, led by MLA, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

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