Away from the pyrotechnics, explosions and gunfire of the mock battle re-enactment – visitors to Peak Rail’s 1940s weekend enjoyed a gentler side to things at Darley Dale Station.
Basking in glorious weekend weather, the station – used for filming Maythorpe station in the current series of Brief Encounters on ITV – travelled back to the 1940s for a couple of days.
Resplendent in its red, white and blue bunting on the platforms, the station’s waiting room was transformed into a Normandy cinema, showing short cartoons and propaganda films from the USA in World War II.
Period costume was the order of the day for many stopping at the station, and a visit by US infantrymen, complete with a fully restored 1945 US Army Jeep, caused quite a stir before they embarked on an eventful trip to Rowsley South.
Station masters Roy Mackinlay and David Lathrope were kept busy throughout the weekend, fielding lots of questions from first time visitors about the station’s history.
Just before the outbreak of war in 1939, child evacuees from Manchester arrived on September 1, at Darley Dale station to be billeted throughout the area. During the war, batches of soldiers arrived at the station to undertake their training in the area, and troops evacuated from Dunkirk found themselves rested by the roadside on Station Road, before moving to tented accommodation off Broadwalk.
Travelling by train was always hazardous during WW2, with many journeys taking much longer than the timetables predicted.
During the early years of the war, passengers travelling home from important war work in Derby would arrive at Darley Dale Station far later than scheduled. Luckily, the trains ran reasonably well to time last weekend at Darley – well there was a war on.