Great Britain

A Post-war Christmas

WITH the party season in full swing, we take a look back at how Bradford youngsters enjoyed a post-war Christmas celebration.

Bradfordian Vincent Finn, who now lives in Boston, America, is a regular contributor to our Remember When page and he has sent us this delightful photograph of children at a Christmas party held at the East Ward Labour Club in the late 1940s.

“In the ‘olden days’ the club was located on Free Street which was one street above Tennyson Place in Barkerend,” says Mr Finn, who grew up in the area.

“The number of children in the picture might give some indication as to how large the club membership was at that time.

As you can see, some of the kids still have their outside coats on - there wasn’t a lot of heat in the concert room at that time.”

Mr Finn says this picture was taken in either 1947 or 1949. “If I remember correctly, a member could bring as many children as they had along to the party,” he recalls. “The programme offered entertainment like a Punch and Judy show, a sing-along, some years they had a film projector and showed a children’s film - and of course there was the arrival of Santa Claus. Sandwiches were provided, and a glass of pop.”

He adds: “Obviously, Santa Claus didn’t bring a gift for each kid, since toys were scarce back then as it was still a period of post-war austerity, and I think the only place that toys were for sale in Bradford would be in the market in town or at Woolworth’s.

“Some simple arithmetic - if you were in this picture you would now be in your mid to late seventies. Is there anybody in Bradford who remembers the Christmas parties at East Ward Labour Club?”

The little lad four rows back and fourth from the left seems to have been startled by the flashbulb when this photo

was taken. It’s a wonderful image of youngsters of the day, flanked by the grown-ups who were there to ensure they

had a good time.

Over the years the T&A has reported on many memories of Christmas parties at social clubs. A few years ago Elaine Neale from Idle sent us a cherished photograph of a wartime Christmas party at East Bowling Unity Club, which was in Wakefield Road. Elaine was in the photo as a little girl, wearing a check hat with her hair in plaits. The girl sitting next to her, she recalled, was Sylvia Straker. Also sitting with her was her cousin, Dorothy Harrison, and Margaret Waters, a former Yorkshire

champion swimmer. Said Elaine: “These wartime parties were great affairs, with Punch and Judy shows, conjurers and other entertainment. We were poor but we were happy, as they say.”

Doreen Robinson of Shelf also recalls happy festive parties at social clubs in Calderdale, where she grew up.

“There was always a visit from Santa, and we each got a present. We sang carols and played party games. It was a highlight of our Christmas,” says Doreen, now 85. “We were children during the war, we appreciated what would be regarded today as simple pleasures.”

Emma Clayton