Haworth 1940s Weekend A FABULOUS WEEKEND CELEBRATING AND COMMEMORATING THE 1940s

Through the twisting roads leading to the village, the bounding country hills unleashed the adventurous spirit in me as I left reality behind and fell back in time. The white rabbit hooked a line on my curiosity and pulled me into Wonderland. Haworth, situated in the north-western corner of West Yorkshire, is best described as a typical village, perched at the edge of the Pennine moors.

It is often referred to as Brontë country due to it being the former home of the famous sisters; these jewels of literature resided in what is now the Brontë Parsonage Museum which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Less known is the fact that Haworth was the world’s first Fairtrade village, twinned with Machu Picchu, and that the local steam train featured in the classic film ‘The Railway Children’. The village is traditionally English and the community celebrate their Victorian heritage on several occasions throughout the year; with the most important event being the 1940s weekend which attracts around 40,000 visitors over the two days. Due to the dependence of businesses on tourism, there is little local trade as most shops cater to the seasonal visitor with tea rooms, antiquarian bookshops, restaurants, pubs and hotels throughout the village.

Haworth village center

As I drove past Haworth station which is situated at the bottom of the village, it became evident how extravagant this 1940s weekend was going to be. Under the spring sun stood a full-to-capacity vintage bus preparing to carry its riders up the steep hill to the heart of the festival. However, first I was intent on seeing the steam train arrive at the station. I slipped through the crowd past women draped in jewels and fur as well as men in uniform, in complete awe at the attention to detail and effort. Billowing smoke heralded the train’s arrival; a small boy sitting on his father's shoulders clapped his hands together in excitement as the doors opened revealing the next wave of fashionistas to enter Haworth.

Women of the era

I claimed a seat on the open-top bus which climbed the perilous route, defying gravity as it chugged up to the top of the village. The area where I disembarked was populated with stalls selling vintage clothing, trinkets, jewellery and accessories as well as a variety of food from the era. The air was fragrant with the smells of outdoor cooking and my eardrums vibrated with the syncopated rhythms of a lively brass band playing as I watched couples jiving in the street. I recognised many familiar faces from the previous year when I’d attended for the first time - confirming their passion for the historical period and the event itself.

The 1940s weekend has grown in popularity each year and is now one of the largest events in the country celebrating the era. Fundraising is the main focus of the weekend, it costs on average £20,000 to produce the festival so that investment needs to be returned, as well as generating a profit for the chosen charities. The food and drink stalls, competitions, performances and military parades all work together to achieve the common goal of providing monetary support to armed forces’ charities. Last year the festival organisers donated £26,000 to SAAFA, the world's oldest military charity. I was interested to see that the event was popular across a wide age range as it attracts men and women who lived through the 1940s, young people inspired by the fashion and families who enjoy the bygone experiences that the weekend provides.

The military focus of the event is apparent

My eye was caught by a display of original enamel signs; on closer inspection it was the storefront to one of Haworth’s hidden gems. Situated directly in the village centre, Rose & Co. Apothecary is a Victorian masterpiece, restored to its original glory by the current owners, Caroline and Patricia Rose. The hand-crafted products by this mother and daughter duo are displayed beautifully within vintage Victorian shop fittings. At first glance, the apothecary looks like a patisserie; with lemon and orange cake slices, cherry tarts, tiny fruit cupcakes and fairy cakes that have been delicately hand decorated. The unique bath and body wares are gathered temptingly in luxurious clusters of scent and colour which demand closer inspection.

Rose & Co. Apothecary

Behind this beautiful guise are hand creams, body lotions, balms, bath melts and soaps ready to be sampled by curious visitors. Crystal chandeliers create a soft glow on the antique glass trays which hold a selection of the wares. Locally sourced, quality ingredients are used to create the products and although the original recipes have been modernised they are still made using traditional methods in Caroline Rose’s own workshop. The apothecary is a perfect representation of the festival; the attention to detail and passion is replicated throughout the village and loved by visitors from the UK and beyond.

Locals perform for the crowd
Created By
Adam Wright
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© 2017 Adam Wright

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