Sunday, 20 June 2010

Dad's Army Day

Walmington on Sea comes to Bressingham
This year marked the tenth anniversary of Dad's Army Day at Bressingham. Usually held each May, this year it was moved back to June to coincide with the unveiling of the statue of Captain Mainwaring in Thetford and the Dad's Army Day organised by Dad's Army Museum on Saturday 19th.

My intention was to arrive around 10:00 before the doors opened to get a feel for what was planned and to meet a few key people. Unfortunately something cropped up and I didn't arrive until just after midday, which sadly meant that I missed the cast members arriving on Martello.

I was, however, just in time to hear the bad news that the Waveney Line had just been closed as there was a problem. It turned out that the locomotive had blown a gasket and would be out of action for the rest of the day. "Today of all days" was my immediate thought.

Usually I try and write events in a chronological order, but with lots of different things happening today I was continually moving from place to place, so I've tried to group things into themes instead. Given the large number of organisations and individuals involved I have tried my best to find out further information where possible, so apologies if I've inadvertently made an error and if anything needs correcting you can contact me via email.

Dad's Army Appreciation Society (DAAS)

Bressingham is home to the Dad's Army Appreciation Society's Collection and has been hosting their annual event since 2000. Today the conference room was given over to their function and had a steady stream of DAAS members passing in and out.

Barmy Army Film Club

The Barmy Army
Among several groups of re-enactors present is the Barmy Army Film Club. They are from Kent and have produced five of their own comedy dramas based on the British Home Front.

Without a doubt their star was a three-and-a-half year old boy dressed in shorts, tank top and cap and taking his cue from the adults. Whether it was weapon inspection or drill practice he was there joining in and being part of everything. I was talking to his mother and she told me that he'd been attending events since he was born and that he hadn't need any encouragement to participate.

"Enemy plane overhead"

"Got it!"

Other exhibitors

Threshing machine
Wheeler Steam brought along their 1920 Ruston and Hornsby traction engine Oliver and threshing machine.

The Norfolk Military Vehicle Group brought along a good selection of military vehicles, Gwyn Bilby brought her mock World War II First Aid tent, there were a couple of stalls selling antiques and jewellery and Rede Hall Farm Park brought along a shire horse.

Military vehicle from NMVG

Under the hood

Mock World War II First Aid tent

Shire horse

RAF Honington Band

Providing outdoor musical entertainment throughout the afternoon were the members of The Band of The Royal Air Force Honington stationed next to the Garden Line station.

RAF Honington Band

Dancing & Stage shows

In the Exhibition Hall there was 1940's dancing courtesy of DJ Texas Tommy and Esther and her Jitterbugs.

"Disco" 40's style with DJ Texas Tommy

Esther with one of her Jitterbugs

The Walmington on Sea Players (WOSP) also put on several stage shows. I did pop my head in to have a look, but the shows were packed out and without flash I doubt I would have been able to get any useful photographs. Next year with more planning (and permission) I might try to set up some lighting beforehand.

Playing Captain Mainwaring

Playing Private Frank Pike

Walmington on Sea Players

There is some video of the stage shows and dancing on the Dad's Army Museum's Bressingham 2010 page.

The Stars

As is usual each year, a selection of cast members attend the event, along with the show's writers Jimmy Perry and David Croft.

  • David Croft
  • Pamela Cundell
  • Jeffrey Holland
  • Philip Madock
  • Jimmy Perry
  • Bill Pertwee
  • Harold Snoad
  • Frank Williams

There were large crowds gathered as the stars were happy to sign autographs for people, and with a long lens I managed to get a few shots myself.

Pamela Cundell

Jeffrey Holland

Staff & Volunteers

Christine, today's Duty Manager
As with most Bressingham events, the staff and volunteers really do make the effort and get involved to ensure that everyone has a great day.
With the Waveney Line out of action, the Nursery Line was running continuously (rather than its usual half-hourly) to ensure that waiting times were kept to a minimum. The Waveney and relief crews stepped in and shared duties to ensure that the drivers and guards on the other operating lines could have a break when needed. Running on such a tight turnaround presents several challenges: water tanks need to be regularly filled up which takes time, water levels in the boiler must be kept correct and the fire stoked to ensure that there is adequate steam pressure for setting off, not to mention manning the Nursery Line level crossing and operating the Garden Line turntable.

Sue on duty

Pauline on crossing duty

Later in the day Christine tells me that the plan is for the cast members to depart at around 15:30 on Martello - so I would be able to ride with them to get some photographs. She also suggests that I check out the temporary platform that had been erected about two thirds down the standard gauge line to familiarise myself, which I duly do and find it's a good vantage point to get some different shots of Martello steaming along the line.

Martello heading down the line

Martello heading back up the line

Unfortunately there ended up being a slight change of plan, and the cast members departed in their cars so I didn't get to ride with them. Next year maybe.

Young Steamers

Bressingham Young Steamers
Helping to ensure everything runs smoothly on the standard gauge line are three members of Bressingham Young Steamers. Today they are providing guard duties and ensuring that passengers are getting on and off safely.
It also provides the opportunity to get up close and personal with steam, as they can ride on the footplate (albeit rather cramped on Martello) and chat to the driver and fireman and generally learn about how steam locomotives work.

Checking that all is clear
I am sure that I will not be the only person commenting on how well the three young lads conducted themselves - a real credit.
Although this is the first time that I've seen them, I certainly hope that they continue to get involved in more events.

A complete gallery of images from the day is available on Bressingham's SmugMug gallery.

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