Saturday, December 24, 2011

December 28 1939 - January 3, 1940

Despite war time restrictions, Swindon Christmas festivities continued right up to twelfth night.

More than 1,000 children including boys and girls from Olive House and the Limes children's homes were entertained when Clarence Street Schools hosted the 18th Annual Tea for Poor Children. Every room in the school was needed to accommodate the young guests who between them consumed 144 2lb loaves, 170lbs of slab cake, 2,000 fancy cakes and one and half hundredweight of boiled sweets. "entertainments included numbers by Mr F. Fry's band, reported the Advertiser. "Nurses, ambulance men and police were present and every child had been insured against accident."

Over at Westcott Street Schools 200 evacuee children from Bow were entertained where "multi coloured decorations, paper hats and a Christmas tree enhanced the atmosphere."

Arrangements had been made by Westcott Street School headmaster Mr H. Atkins along with Miss Holliday, headmistress at Westcott Infants, Clifton Street School headmaster Mr T. Merrick and Mr A.S. Williams, the headmaster from Single Street School in Bow. Mr Williams had organised the entertainment which included a conjurer, a ventriloquist and a film show given by Mr Deane.

At Pinehurst School it was the turn of the evacuee children to entertain their foster families. Pupils from Park Modern School in Barking said a big thank you to the families who had looked after them during the Christmas holidays. This was the second party the school had held during the Christmas period, having already entertained people from Barking living in Swindon.

Father Christmas also paid a visit to Victoria Hospital where he distributed presents to women and children patients at the Christmas Party held on the Women's Ward. All the presents and the Christmas fare were provided by the voluntary fund raised by the matron.

Sadly New Year's Eve celebrations were rather low key as the country entered the new decade at war. There was no ringing of church bells, no sounding of sirens and no blowing of engine whistles to welcome in 1940.

Evacuees were guests of the ARP in a hall at the Cattle Market, Swindon (top) while Father Christmas made a visit to the Rink Cinema (bottom)

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