The sights and sounds of 1943 have been brought to life after the Railway at Wartime weekend reported for duty.
A poignant ceremony yesterday heralded the start of the festivities which are expected to attract more than 50,000 people to Pickering, Whitby and stations along the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, all of whom are keen to experience life on the Home Front during World War II.
Over the entire weekend, re-enactors dressed as Allied servicemen, civilians, railwaymen and more will mingle with visitors from near and far for what is one of the highlights of the North Yorkshire calendar.
The “hand over” of the railway to re-enactment groups was carried out at Pickering Station in a ceremony watched by hundreds of onlookers.
In a speech to mark the occasion, Philip Benham, the railway’s general manager, said: “This is always a very special highlight of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway’s year. The main reason for Railway at Wartime was to bring more recognition of the part railwaymen and women played on the Home Front during World War II.
“There are many reflections on a weekend like this. It is a time for looking back with rose-tinted glasses but it is also a time to reflect on the sacrifices that were made by men and women. What we seek to do is give some insight into what life was like in a small Yorkshire market town during these dark days.”
Stations along the heritage railway line - Pickering, Levisham, Grosmont and Goathland - will now all play a central role in the festivities this weekend as will Whitby which came on board last year.
There will be live music, living history displays, trade stands, soup kitchens and more fun and games on offer by the railway and local pubs, cafes and community groups.
And such has been the popularity of the Railway at Wartime, now in its 20th year, that railway chiefs have taken over Pickering Showground to spread out the entertainment and free up space in the centre of Pickering.
Weekend highlights include today’s parade of civilian vehicles and re-enactment and veteran groups in the centre of Pickering at 10.45am and the military vehicle parade on Sunday at 10.55am.