THOUSANDS of visitors are due to descend on North Yorkshire this weekend for an event to highlight the crucial role Britain’s railways played during the Second World War.
The Railway in Wartime weekend, which launched nearly 20 years ago and is one of the largest events of its kind in the country, began yesterday to give visitors an opportunity to take a step back in time to 1943.
The celebrations will continue today and tomorrow and are being hosted by the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
Stations at Pickering, Levisham, Goathland and Grosmont are coming to life with re-enactments, displays and entertainment dating back to a previous era of austerity.
Events are also being held in Whitby for the first time at the end of the line which is used by the heritage railway.
Members of 4th Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment and 15 Brigade Personnel Recovery Unit based at Catterick Garrison will march through Pickering’s Market Place this morning.
They will be accompanied by a military band and civilian vehicles of the 1940s era, and the Pickering and District Rotary Club will be raising money for ABF The Soldiers Charity.
Traders in the town have agreed to host collections for the charity, which provides support to serving and retired soldiers and their families.
Between 1939 and 1944, Britain’s railways were subjected to more than 9,000 bombing raids, although the Germans were never able to paralyse the network completely.
Among the many vital roles played by the railways was the transfer of hundreds of thousands of children from the nation’s cities to the countryside and some 24,000 train movements in preparation for D-Day.
Last year’s Railway in Wartime weekend saw more than 26,000 visitors to Pickering alone, with many of them dressed in 1940s costume.