Lincoln’s RAF 100 & 1940’s Weekend
By Samantha Ann Rose Brinded
Level 3 History student
Lincoln’s annual 1940s weekend returned and once again, the streets of this historic city were filled with music, bunting and victory rolls. VisitLincoln.com describes the event as ‘celebrating the spirit of 1940s Britain’ and this year it also aimed to commemorate the Royal Air Force’s 100th birthday.
Founded on April 1, 1918, the RAF has formed a large part of Lincolnshire’s more modern history. Part of this history can be found at RAF Scampton, a base six miles north of Lincoln. This particular base was home to 617 squadron, also known as The Dambusters and today, Scampton is home to the world-famous aerobatic team, the Red Arrows. It’s also because of the numerous RAF bases dotted about that Lincolnshire earned the nickname Bomber County during the Second World War. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Lincoln chose to take part in the RAF100 celebrations and associate it with its ever-popular 1940s weekend.
With events happening across various locations within the city, I visited Saint Paul’s in the Bail and Castle Hill, on Sunday the 12thof August.
As we walked from our car, my family and I dressed in full 1940’s regalia began to feel a little self-conscious. Westgate road was no busier than an average weekend and our choice of clothing seemed to attract the odd curious look. Then, in the distance, we heard a rendition of Glen Miller’s Chattanooga Choo Choo and we knew we were on the right track. The closer we got we saw that there, upon the Roman ruins of Saint Paul’s in the Bail, Lindy Hoppers shuffled and swung to a live performance from singer, Lady Kingsnorth. Surrounded by food and drink stalls, 52nd Street Jump, a local Lindy Hop club, danced the day away providing entertainment along with classes fit for all ages and abilities.
Following the vintage car lined streets, local businesses were also getting into the swing of things. Windows had tape across them, hoping to protect their patriotic displays from any ensuing air raids, while staff worked away, their hair up in headscarves, with lips an equally patriotic red.
Despite the grey skies and odd shower, the atmosphere at Castle Hill buzzed as crowds of people stopped to admire the stalls selling a variety of locally made products and vintage clothing. Outside of the 19thCentury Judge’s Lodgings, more live music came from Lincoln Community Choir, The Blighty Belles and Miss Sarah-Jane, while a selection of food, including, of course, the Lincolnshire sausage, was available to feed the hungry masses.
Then, one of the weekends main attractions, saw everyone stop admiring the outfits, stalls and singing and, instead, look to the skies. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight provided plenty of opportunity for unique photos as a Lancaster and Hurricane flew over the cathedral’s spires. As everyone settled back down to their drinks or shopping, it wasn’t much longer until the rumbling of their engines could be heard again, and the crowd was treated to another fly past.
1940s weekends are increasing in popularity, evidenced by the thousands of visitors to Lincoln this weekend. To some, it might seem strange to celebrate a time when Britain was at war, a time of rationing, bombing and loss. However, these weekends are more than just a fun look into the past. They, of course, remember the sacrifices that were made but also commemorate a time when communities came together, to care for each other and celebrate life. To some, it’s nostalgic, to others a chance to dress up or just a nice day out. But, whatever the reason, I believe this year’s event was successful in its aims to celebrate the spirit of 1940s Britain and to show Lincoln at its best.
For more information on Lincoln’s aviation history and upcoming events visit: https://www.visitlincoln.com/aviation