The 1940s weekend at the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire is one of my favourite WWII re-enactment events on the calendar. My good friend Barry and I have photographed it for four of the last five years, and it was great to see some familiar faces from previous years. Not only that, I even plucked up the courage to speak to some of them!
From a photographers point of view, I thought this was one of the best I can remember, with an assortment of colourful characters and some small but interesting set-pieces to photograph. We caught the train from Loughborough and travelled south stopping at Quorn, Rothley and finally Leicester North Stations. Unlike previous years there was no “battle” as such, but the demonstrations on each station made up for that to a certain extent.
One set of photos that I am particularly pleased with is of a group called DasHeer Living History Society who portray German conscript soldiers from the late 1930s and early 1940s. They have asked me to send them some of my photos to put on their website, which is great, so I will be taking a disc of selected images to Kelmarsh Hall in July where they will be taking part in the Festival of History.
Mixed in with the uniformed re-enactors were many people in civilian outfits from the same period. Some of these were also doing small set-piece presentations throughout the weekend. My favourite had to be Mrs. Day with her 1940s washing demonstration, a wonderful character to photograph and she played the part beautifully.
If you love taking outdoor portraits and environmental portraits as I do, these reenactment weekends provide great subjects to photograph and, with the odd exception, the volunteer re-enactors are willing models for the many photographers who tend to congregate at these events.
You can see more of my photos from the Great Central Railway 1940s Weekend 2011 on my website here.
Update June 2012: Photos from the Great Central Railway 1940s Weekend 2012 can be found on my website here.