Barbara Riding grew up in Blackburn during the Second World War and here she shares her memories and stories of being a child during World War Two. Barbara talks about what life was like in the family home, at school and playing in the local area. We hope you enjoy listening to Barbara’s memories and stories as much as we have done. Barbara has also provided us with some photographs that capture memories of her wartime childhood.
A selection of Barbara’s photographs and memories:
George VI letter – A copy of the letter sent by King George VI to children after the war.
Barbara – This a photo of Barbara Riding (nee Brett) at 88 and Barbara Brett in her Brownie uniform as it was in those days aged 9.
Air raid shelters – Top left: Underground shelter preserved in Stockport Museum. Underground shelter dug for children of St Silas’s School in 1939. Arched roof like a tunnel with benches to sit on and latrines in the corner. Thank goodness we never had to use them.
Top right: A cartoon concerning a Morrison shelter. We had a budgie which we taught to say ” Hitler’s a bad man!” We were lucky not to have any air raids, but when the siren went off we sat under the stairs and put the budgie under the shelter.
Bottom two: Photos of two Morrison shelters I took off the TV. My father got one as he was unable to go to a brick shelter in the school yard if there was an air raid. We used it as a dining room table for several years.
Charity poster – We collected money for charities during the war such as Aid for Warships, Aid for Russia, Aid for rubber dinghies for shot down airmen. This is a poster I designed and won a prize for in a competition for school children in Blackburn in 1942 during Aid for China week.
Ministry of Food Cook Book – Lord Woolton was the Minister of Food during the war. This was the Ministry of Food cook book which my mother used to use. We used to listen to a five minute broadcast every morning called “The Kitchen Front” which gave hints and ideas on how to cope with your rations.
Music – These are some of the songs I used to play and we used to sing on different occasions.
Identity Card – We all had to have an Identity Card with name and details inside. I also had a silver Identity disc with my name and address on it which I wore on a chain on my wrist.
Evacuee Letter – Families were all issued with a letter about taking in evacuees. We were not asked to have any. I only remember one girl evacuee coming to my school from somewhere.
Parks and Churches – Parks and churches and all private houses had to have their gates and railings removed so that the metal could be used for war purposes. It was over 50 years before the Corporation Park replaced its railings and gates. My church, Leamington Road Baptist Church built a small wall instead.
Even a global pandemic can’t stop these children from being creative!
Saturday 11th July should have been the day of the Blackburn Children’s University graduation ceremony, but unfortunately it couldn’t take place this year due to social distancing rules.
This didn’t stop some of the children making their very own graduation caps; and a great job they did too! It’s been business as usual during the lockdown and the children have been taking part in all sorts of activities, which are continuing during the summer.
We can’t wait until we can meet them all in person again!