“Why do people waste their weekends dressing up”?
According to Wikipedia :- Living history is an activity that incorporates historical tools, activities and dress into an interactive presentation that seeks to give observers and participants a sense of stepping back in time. Although it does not necessarily seek to reenact a specific event in history, living history is similar to, and sometimes incorporates, historical reenactment. I for one think Living History is educational and important for children of today to remember what happened in our past. Today to many children stick their faces infront of their electronic devices be it mobiles or tablets. I think they would be pleasantly surprised how much they would enjoy spending time with their parents at a Living History show.
Living history is an educational medium used by living history museums, historic sites, heritage interpreters, schools and historical reenactment groups to educate the public or their own members in particular areas of history, such as clothing styles, pastimes and handicrafts, or to simply convey a sense of the everyday life of a certain period in history. Over the last 10 years of filming Living History I have come across several people who just don’t get why grown ups and children spend their free weekends garbed in clothing depicting periods of historical times.
It’s about having a great time with friends who have the same passion. It’s about getting the family out for the day and teach them what it was like in the past and have the chance to live a mini adventure. And of course it’s all about the camaraderie and beer drinking once the public have left the show. I have to say these lovely people are not weirdo’s, nor are they people who like the feel of wearing a long trench coat or wearing SS runes on their uniforms. Many of them are true historians and have decent jobs such as Nurses, Policemen, and engineers for the likes of Rolls Royce and Jaguar. If it wasn’t for re-enactors schools would still be learning about history from books and watching old films.
“It’s all about the attention to detail”.
Historical reenactment groups often attempt to organise displays in an encampment or display area at an event, and have a separate area for combat reenactment activities. While some such exhibits may be conducted in character as a representation of typical everyday life, others are specifically organised to inform the public and so might include an emphasis on handicrafts or other day-to-day activities, which are convenient to stage and interesting to watch, and may be explained out of character but it’s all about the attention to detail that is important to a re-enacting group.
For more close up images of re-enactors it is always polite to ask their permission to take their photo first. I have never been refused and politeness costs nothing but goes along way plus the end result is a much better image. It’s also a good idea to take along your business cards so you can hand one to the re-enactor so that they can contact you later to see their image.
So Living History IS for anyone, embrace it, learn from it and widen your historical knowledge from attending the various shows / displays that are put on at considerable cost each year. As a photographer any show you attend will be an asset to your portfolio. You can pretty much stand anywhere in a display area and look through your view finder and see something amazing to capture.
There are various shows / displays on in 2018 all over the UK. You can do a search in Google for Living History as the keyword and you will be shown various listings, some of which may be close to where you live. At the moment as I write this I will be attending 10 shows this year and will be staying under the friendly arms of the the guys of 9th SS run extremely professionally by Ian Kirkham. I have known Ian many years now and can see how dedicated he is in portraying an accurate picture of what the 9th SS did. If you want to know more information about his group please visit the website HERE. Ian also runs his own Living History show called Operation Market Bosworth which runs alongside the battlefield railway line in Market Bosworth.
Ian Kirkham who has just received the Knights Cross from his men as a thank you for all he does for his men and the group he runs.
At Ians show you can travel upon steam hauled train services from Shackerstone or Shenton stations on the former A&NJR (Ashbey and Nuneaton Joint Railway) to the Frontline at Market Bosworth station for the Goods yard. Once a very important location during the War effort in the 40s for fuel supplies for the D-Day invasion. This is one of my favourite shows to visit, a small very friendly show and growing in visitors each year and the steam train service is an added bonus for taking cool photographs.
So what other shows will I be attending on my Living History travels in 2018?
NEW HOLLAND AT WAR 14-15 April :- Step back in time to their 2 day event. Fun for the whole family as wartime is brought to life with a bang ! Re-enactors, Vehicles and Airplanes will bring the field to life. Have a wander through the market place see what you can buy .. Be sure to bring your ration books. All proceeds donated to the New Holland Recreation Ground. Registered Charity number: 521893.
IRONBRIDGE 26-27 May :- A community charity fundraising event in the historic Ironbridge Gorge We raise funds for Pilgrim Bandits Charity by staging a World war 2 re-enactment event the last bank holiday weekend in May. we re-create the experience of life during the war on the Home Front and in occupied Europe with Allied and Axis re-enactors and much more.
WARTIME IN THE VALE June 16-17 – It’s one of the largest WWII military vehicle (500+ vehicles) and re-enactment event in the country, so visit them come and join in and soak up the wonderful 40’s atmosphere. Its a great family show with a mix of military and vintage civilian displays at their WWII camp.
YORKSHIRE WARTIME EXPERIENCE 7-8 July See over 500 Military Vehicles from Jeeps to Tanks on display. Get up close to some of the most iconic vehicles of the periods,including post war up to the present day. See them on the move and in action in the recreated large battle re-enactments and skirmishes within the main arena. See the ‘Wheels of Steel’ demonstrations and procession of many of the vehicles on the move. See the speed and power of these incredible machines. Light vehicles and the large tracked tanks firing and demonstrating there weapons.
FESTIVAL OF THE FORTIES 21-22 July :- One of the fasted growing Living History shows at the moment. They have managed to put together one of the best 1940’s Saturday night shows in the UK. Featuring the delectable vocal talents of 3 lovely ladies… Headlining this years Saturday Show is THE BLUEBIRD BELLES, The male vocal talents of Mr LEX ICON supported by the complete 1940’s DJ WOODY’S WAR DEPT and the superb dance instruction of AL RUZZIT AND BUZZIT.
BASTON IN THE BLITZ 4-5 Aug :- Event officially opened by WINSTON CHURCHILL, BBMF flypasts requested, All-day live entertainment, Forties music by THE BLITZ DANCERS, Static aircraft display, Have your photo taken in the cockpit of a SPITFIRE, Experience the roar of the mighty MERLIN engine! Firepower Demo & Battle Re-enactment both days, Many Military & Home Front living history displays & re-enactors, Vintage cars, lorries & tractors, Military Vehicles & Equipment, Post-war/Cold War displays, 1940’s Hairdressers (Ladies, get your hairdo ready for our dance!) Punch & Judy show, Children’s play & picnic area.
MILITARY ODYSSEY 25-27 Aug :- This is the Show of all Shows! Military Odyssey celebrates its 18th year. With groups covering a vast period of global history, including Romans, Vikings, Medieval, Napoleonic, the American Civil War, the Wild West, World Wars I & II, Vietnam right up to the present day. With over 4,000 re-enactors and living history enthusiasts in attendance as well as over 250 stalls, Military Odyssey is the world’s largest multi-period re-enactment show. Regardless of your historical knowledge, there is bound to be something for you. The 200 acre site has 2 separate arenas in addition to the main battlefield, where battlefield re-enactments take place all weekend.
THE VICTORY SHOW 1-2 Sept :- Held over a 100 acre site, the Show provides Historical Societies and re-enactments through various forces from several era’s and theatres during the period of 1939-45. From Airmen to Infantry, the Victory Show opens a window in time to the fabulous 1940’s. There will be over 60 stalls in the large trader’s area. Static WWII Aircraft, Tank Rides and 1940’s working and static Farming Machinery. There will be a huge Army Encampment and 50+ Re-enactment Groups, 200+ Vehicles including Heavy Armour, Tanks and many more,
OPERATION MARKET BOSWORTH 15-16 Sept :- You will be able to see and hear what it would have been like on the front line with live Battle re-enactments. See a replica STUG III Tank in action and other Military vehicles of the war effort. See what equipment would have been used to fight the enemy and speak with living history re-enactors and learn about our history when the World was at War. There will be an intensive train timetable to get people to and from the frontline at Market Bosworth. Travel from Shackerstone or Shenton stations. There is ample free parking at Shackerstone station where you can also enjoy the splendid Victorian tea rooms whilst waiting to disembark for the frontline.
NEWSTEAD ABBEY 22-23 Sept :- Newstead will be hosting it’s 2nd WWII weekend this year. Displays of military Vehicles and Displays from Allied and other re-enactors. Entertainment from Johnny Victory. Adult Day ticket – £ 10 (just one day) Two day adult Ticket – £15 (two days)Strict 1940’s dressed code ticket – £7 (Just one day) Strict 1940’s dressed code two day ticket – £12 (two days) Children under 16 free Parking and entry to Abbey House included.
PAPPLEWICK PUMP STATION 20-21 Oct :- Military and Civilian re-enactors celebrating the 1940s throughout the Pumping Station. x2 James Watt beam engines, Robey winding engine from Linby Colliery and miniature railway all in steam. Cafe and shop on site. Tours to underground reservoir dependent on weather and staffing. Open 1100-1700.
That’s it folks I hope this blog has been interesting and you can make it to a show this year. If you see me walking around with my camera come over and please say hi. 🙂