Forties Day at Dunton Visitor Centre.

Sunday 16th September 2012.

Preparations for this annual event were well underway at 10 am when Colin and I arrived at the Haven to run the Laindon Archive’s display.  A gazebo had been erected in advance for us to share with Karen McKay, (the Centre’s Education Officer) and her washing day demonstration.

Several of the staff from the Centre were dressed up in forties style wrap-around aprons with ‘turban’ style head scarves, looking very much in place amongst the mangle, washboard and tin washtub.  I also noticed a couple of chaps wearing old fashioned army and police uniforms.

Four tables had been allotted to us and we were soon assembling the picture boards and merchandise arrangement.  After making a few adjustments due to the uneven ground and a gusty wind, we were ready.

Visitors began arriving at 11 am and entertainment included a singing group in the garden of the Haven, who performed catchy wartime songs and numbers from various musicals of the time.  A dance group gave demonstrations of jive/swing and lindy hop which they performed to lively music in the Visitor Centre.  An old style coconut shy, plus toys and games from bygone days provided fun for all the family. 

We were soon joined by Emma Thomas, Sue Ranfold and Ken Porter and a very enjoyable afternoon followed. The Laindon Archive stand was a big hit and dozens of people lingered around the display boards, studying the photos and chatting about their memories.  I was pleased to meet Wendy Archibald, having very much enjoyed reading her interesting and beautifully written article on the website.

The merchandise stall was also popular and did very well.  A few postcards, several calendars and a pack of Christmas cards were purchased, plus two of Ken Porter’s newly published book about the Prisoner of War Camp at Langdon Hills.  Their new owners were delighted when Ken kindly agreed to sign the books for them.

We also sold two copies of the 1938 map (A2 size).  Due to previous interest shown in the map, we’d had several photocopies printed and if anyone is interested, they cost £3.50 each.  They can be pre-ordered and collected from the Laindon Library on Memory Days.

Refreshments had been available throughout the day at the Centre but by around 4 pm all the delicious homemade cakes and biscuits had completely sold out.

Once again this popular and enjoyable event was a great success and the Laindon Archive were very happy to take part.

Laindon Archive's popular photo boards.
Nina Humphrey
Songs from South Pacific. 'There aint nothing like a Dame' and maybe 'I'm gonna wash that man right out of my hair' (see mangle, buckets and washing line in the white gazebo.)
Nina Humphrey
Ken, happily doing a book signing.
Nina Humphrey

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