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VE Day 75: How one Upminster street partied 75 years ago as the war in Europe ended

PUBLISHED: 10:30 08 May 2020

A VE Day celebration in Havering from 1945. Picture: Havering Museum

A VE Day celebration in Havering from 1945. Picture: Havering Museum

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Pete Johnson from Havering Museum on how one street partied away after six long years of war.

VE Day celebrations going with a swing in 1945. Picture: Havering MuseumVE Day celebrations going with a swing in 1945. Picture: Havering Museum

Apart from the many celebrations going on in every major city in the UK to commemorate Victory in Europe Day, in May 1945, most towns and villages throughout the country had their own street parties.

Most families joined in the fun, but not all. It should be remembered that thousands of husbands, boyfriends and family members were still fighting the Japanese in Burma and the Far East.

Pictures of children enjoying their VE Day party, in Springfield Gardens, Upminster, then part of Essex, are typical of families relaxing and enjoying the long-awaited peace after nearly six years of the horrors of war.

The little girl with the bow in her hair, turning to face the camera in the picture of the children enjoying cakes and pop, was then 11 years old.

A party in Springfield Gardens. Picture: Havering MuseumA party in Springfield Gardens. Picture: Havering Museum

She is now Pamela Wilkes, company secretary and director of Havering Museum in High Street, Romford.

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Pamela said: “I can remember so many ladies coming out of their houses with plates of cakes, sandwiches and jellies which we all enjoyed. My mum and dad were both there. Dad had been very busy in the Home Guard, and some of his items have been given to the museum.”

A newspaper report from the time includes details of children being entertained by a conjuror, ventriloquist, sketch artist, Punch and Judy show and a “cinematograph performance”.

A VE Day celebration in Havering from 1945. Picture: Havering MuseumA VE Day celebration in Havering from 1945. Picture: Havering Museum

A “bumper tea” was provided for the youngsters by the neighbours who then took their turn at the table. The lucky children enjoyed games and must have felt thrilled to receive a bag of sweets, savings stamps and a souvenir card after years of rationing.

Later in the evening, the street was lit up by floodlights as the adults took to the street, dancing to music played through loudspeakers.

Pamela later married Ian, one of the museum’s founder members and for seven years chairman of the board of directors.

Ian died in 2015, but like Pamela, who became a respected council official in Havering, he left behind a huge legacy that is remembered by all at the museum.

A party in Springfield Gardens. Picture: Havering MuseumA party in Springfield Gardens. Picture: Havering Museum

Visit Havering Museum’s blog for more stories: haveringmuseum.org.uk/blog/


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