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A Shout From The Attic: Holidays At Home

Ronnie Bray recalls happy days in the park near his home.

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In July and August of 1941 Huddersfield Corporation in an act of genius instituted the Holidays at Home programme for the benefits of families who could not travel to the seaside because of the War and its restrictions. A large wooden stage was erected at the top side of the meadow in Greenhead Park, which was the main venue for the events. It was the stage that attracted me. The anticipation of attendance by the programme’s planners underestimated the draw that it would be, so they faced it towards the rising back of the meadow which, while affording a natural rise to the temporary seating, restricted the number of seats that could be put out.

I attended many of the shows that played there year after year, most of them compered by a Mr Whitfield. The stage was five minutes walk from home, and it was free. I entered the park through the main gateway and walked up the main parade until I came to the fountain near the duck pond, when I went up the small path to the right and past the children’s’ playground where the Huddersfield Society of Model Engineers was running a straight track model railway for a few coppers a ride.

The Society started the highly popular passenger carrying service on its model loco track in Greenhead Park in summer of 1942 during the Holidays at Home, becoming one of the highlights of summer days, spreading the smell of burning coal and steam for a wide area around. The shrill whistles signalling the start of every ride, that rode from a few inches above the ground to a height of two feet at the end of the ride. A ride consisted of a run to the end of the line, then a ride in reverse to the starting point.

After a suitable pause to wonder at the power and beauty of the miniature marvels, I resumed my walk to the open air theatre. I enjoyed all the shows held there, but one stands out above all the rest.


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