Society for Poole's Wartime heritage of Poole
In 2020 local societies and historians, the Royal British Legion and representatives of BCP Council prepared to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
Led by the Society for Poole, the Poole project included events on the Quay and illustrated heritage boards to be displayed along Poole High Street. Due to the Covid 19 crisis these events were postponed in 2020, so we bring you a taste of the wartime heritage of Poole.
Planning the celebrations
Plans for VE Day in Poole had begun as early as 1st May 1945 in anticipation of the end of hostilities in Europe. A special committee of Borough of Poole Council suggested that workers should be given 3 days holiday with pay and that schools would be closed. On 8th May a Thanksgiving service was to be held in St James Church and a United service would be held in Poole Park the following Sunday. Nationally, Winston Churchill declared that the celebratory period should be brief as the war was still ongoing in Japan and the Far East.
Bunting, bonfires and dancing in the park - celebrating with a bang
Winston Churchill made the official announcement on the radio at 3pm and red, white and blue bunting blossomed throughout the town. Sirens were sounded along the Quay and rockets were fired. The local fishermen collected material for a bonfire at Fisherman’s Quay; and another bonfire was built at Stanley Green. There was dancing in Poole Park and the boats on the lake were illuminated.
More bonfires were lit the following day at Constitution Hill, Parkstone and Oakdale but the main events of the day were centred on Poole Park. A football match between WRNS and male members of the naval service took place; and a tug-of-war between the police and American soldiers. The police won in 2 straight pulls. There were children’s sports, a display by the Girls Training Corps, and the massed bands of the Army Cadets, Sea Cadets, Sea Scouts and Nautical School beat the retreat. The evening ended with dancing in the park.
Dozens of street parties were held for the children including those at Woking Road, Lester Avenue, Sherwood Avenue, Arne Avenue, White Horse Drive, Palmer Road, Castle Street, Haskells Road and Stanley Green Road. Bunting was strung across the streets and trestle tables set up down the middle of the roads. Cake and jelly had pride of place although rationing was still in force.
A United Service of Thanksgiving was held by the Cricket Pavilion in Poole Park on Sunday 13th May. All local organisations including the Home Guard, WVS, Fire Service and other auxiliary services as well as the Armed Forces paraded in Ladies Walking Field before marching to the Park.
Have you got any memories of celebrations in Bournemouth, Christchurch or Poole?
If you've got memories of local VE Day celebrations you'd like to share, send them to us so we can include them here.
Images courtesy of Mr Andrew Hawkes
Further photos on 75th Poole at War Facebook page