When the Lights Came Back On in Blackburn: Richard Croasdale Responds to Questions About His Wartime Childhood

June 11th 2020

After watching the video of Richard Croasdale talking about growing up during the war in Blackburn, children from Blackburn Children’s University plus a few other children from the local area, wanted to ask him a few questions.  We arranged for Stephen Irwin, Education Officer at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, to put their questions to Richard in a phone interview and we have a wonderful recording of their conversation to share with you.

We suggest that you listen to the recording in a quiet room with no distractions to give you the idea of what it was like listening to a wireless broadcast.

Richard was asked the following questions during the interview:

  1. How old were you at the start of the war?
  2. Were you frightened?
  3. Did you think you were going to die?
  4. Where were your parents?
  5. What games did you play?
  6. What did you eat on VE day?
  7. How did you celebrate VE Day?
  8. How did you feel when the lights came back on in Blackburn?
  9. What happened to your gas masks at the end of the war? Did everyone have to hand them in or could you keep them?
  10. Do you feel as though rationing helped prepare you for budgeting in later life?
  11. Did you feel that during the war everyone became closer in the community?
  12. Did adults also have to carry gas masks with them all the time?
  13. What music did you listen to during the war?
  14. What was it like reuniting with family members who had been away during the war?
  15. What would you say to children today who are living in war zones?

“To see all the trams again, all lit up at night, oh what a fantastic sight that was”.

– Richard Croasdale, June 2020

WW2 The Homefront

If you want to find out more about the WW2 Homefront please watch the videos presented by Stephen Irwin, Education Officer at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery

You can find out about: The Blackout, Rations in the War, and A Blackburn Wedding

VE Day 2020 Showreel

On May the 8th staff, students, alumni, friends and families from the University Centre at Blackburn College, together with children from Blackburn Children’s University and members of the 5th Rishton Brownies commemorated VE Day 2020 by taking part in a variety of activities at home.  Everyone was asked to send us photos and videos of their activities and we have made a showreel to capture everything.  People were invited to make bunting, sing a song, do a dance, bake cakes, write a poem and we had a great response.  Thanks to everyone involved and we hope you enjoy our showreel and photographs from the event.

The event was held remotely in accordance with government guidelines on social distancing.

We are disappointed that due to the pandemic residents at EACHSTEP Care Home were unable to join us in our original plans for a VE Day party at UCBC or take part in the activities but we hope they enjoy watching the showreel and reading the letters sent to them from The Children’s University.

A special “thank you” to:

Student Receives National Award

First year Joint Hons student Nicole Roe has been awarded U.K. Youth’s Bronze Youth Achievement Award for her work with Blackburn Children’s University. Nicole is studying English Literature and History at the University Centre at Blackburn College and is participating in the Heritage Lottery Funded Project, ‘WWII East Lancs Childhoods: Sharing Stories, Making Memories’. Nicole organised a ‘design your own planet’ task at an event to commemorate the moon landings, and in November she delivered a ‘Dig for Victory’ activity for the children during the event ‘A Wartime Childhood’. Nicole also worked with the children and residents at EACHSTEP care home where they made bunting, poppies and played games prior to the coronavirus pandemic and the national lockdown.

Nicole says:

To achieve this award, I had to choose two activities and challenges of my own, so I decided to help organise and take part in Children’s University events. I had to record every meeting and activity in order to create a portfolio of evidence to account for 30 hours preparation and activity time.

I believe it is important to take part in activities such as the Youth Achievement Awards and Children’s University as it allows you to gain confidence when it comes to helping organise events.  It also enhances your skills of communication and problem solving. Participating in such activities allows us to gain vital skills for our future, but also helps the children by giving them the ability to gain a broad range of skills, showing them that learning can be fun. It encourages children to see that their education and future is important.’

Project leads Sandra Nichol and Dr Val Jessop said ‘Nicole has worked hard for this award and deserves to have her achievement recognised. She is an important participant in the Sharing Stories project’.

Blackburn Children’s University manager Sara Burton said ‘Nicole has been a vital part of the team both in the preparation and running of the events for Children’s University. The time and effort she puts in is fantastic and, she works well with both the children and adults. She uses her initiative, listens carefully to any instructions and fits in well with all the others that are involved.  Nicole has great dedication and we are keen to continue working with her on our future activities’. 

All events and interviews currently being shared on smallstories.blackburn.ac.uk took place prior to the nation’s COVID-19 lockdown and social distancing measures were followed. All future events have been postponed until they are safe to be held.