Warrington’s role in World War II will be remembered through a programme of ‘live’ and online events, commemorating VE Day and VJ Day.
In March, the Council was granted an award of £9,900 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to mark the 75th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day, with a series of town centre events planned. However, the COVID-19 restrictions meant that these events, scheduled for May, could not take place.
Now, with the easing of some restrictions, Culture Warrington, Warrington BID, Ludovico and Technically Brilliant Art are working in partnership with Warrington Borough Council to deliver a series of safe town centre activities.
The commemorations will take place on Saturday 15 August to coincide with the 75th anniversary of VJ (Victory over Japan) Day in Warrington Town Centre.
There will be a combination of ‘live’ and online events, with no static exhibition or activity which might encourage people to congregate in a space at one time. Activities have been planned to disperse people around the town.
The activities, under the theme of ‘Warrington Time Machine’, include:
• The VE Monologues – a performance, devised and written by award-winning playwright Alexandra Keelan highlighting Warrington stories from World War II. Filmed at Walton Hall and performed by professional actors alongside Warrington youth actors, the completed film will be shown online and across various social media channels.
• Warrington Celebrates – an online heritage trail around the town centre, using QR codes to link to information, stories and photographs about Warrington’s role in the war, along with VE Day celebrations at the time.
• Step Back In Time – a pop-up window display in Lepps Jeweller’s shop, 10 Bridge Street, which will include a VE Day / 1940’s display, a knitted townscape of Warrington buildings by Warrington Crafters, and items, posters and leaflets from heritage groups and venues around the borough.
• Back to the Future – a Delorian car will be on display on Bridge Street, in front of Lepps.
• Knitting Victory – a live machine knitted celebratory banner in Warrington Museum, by resident artist and previous winner of Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival, Marie Jones, for the VE / VJ Day 75th anniversary, using crowdsourced public designs. This will remain on display in the museum until September.
Mayor of Warrington, Cllr Wendy Johnson, said: “In this milestone year for VE Day and VJ Day, I’m delighted that we are able to host these fantastic heritage events and activities. I’m looking forward to them instilling a real sense of pride and community spirit among local people and providing a deeper understanding of the key role Warrington played in World War II.”
Warrington Borough Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for culture, Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, said: “While there are restrictions on how we mark VE Day and VJ Day, it’s great news that we have been able to put together a diverse and safe programme of activities to commemorate these events. With more and more residents returning to the town centre, I hope we will we will be able to connect with a wide range of local people, engaging them in these important stories of Warrington’s past.”
Cabinet member for leisure and community, Cllr Tony Higgins, added: “We want to give our communities every opportunity to mark these important events, and these special displays, exhibitions and performances are a fantastic way of doing that. We want to bring people of all ages together to remember this significant period in our history and the sacrifices made by so many people, from Warrington and beyond.”
VE Day, which takes place each year on 8 May, marks the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces 8 May 1945.
VJ Day – marking the day Japan surrendered, effectively ending the Second World War – takes place on 15 August.
Further details on how to get involved in the programme of activities on Saturday 15 August will be released in the near future.
About the National Lottery Heritage Fund
Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. heritagefund.org.uk.