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Review: Levisham Station NYMR

Attraction - Railway & Train

Levisham, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom

40s weekend

  • By SilverTraveller granh

    60 reviews

    Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon

  • October 2015
  • Family including children under 16

87 people found this review helpful

The heavy train clanks noisily into the platform. Steam billows from the engine and out of the swirling white cloud the figure of a German soldier, holding a gun, emerges. I glance at the station’s name “Le Visham”. Have I time travelled back to wartime occupied France?

The location is actually Levisham station on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and the event is the annual Wartime and 40s weekend, centred in Pickering, but extending from the Pickering Showground to stations along the line to Whitby. Levisham station dates back to the 1840s. It was closed in 1962 then opened again in 1973, part of the North Yorkshire Moors steam railway. On our visit it has become a French village, “Le Visham”, and is spending the whole weekend under German occupation. Nazi soldiers pace the platforms as trains arrive. I was told that last year they boarded the trains to interrogate the passengers, and it was a bit scary. Either The Fuhrer or the Yorkshire tourist board had decided to tone down the role playing this year – they hung around in groups muttering in Yorkshire English! In the field by the station, a paratrooper unit demonstrates a field gun, and there is a mock-up of a WW2 glider. Lurking at the edge of a nearby wood there is a mock- up of a tank and in another field, there is a V1 doodle bug rocket demonstration. There are large motor bikes that you can sit on and pretend to ride. Take a photo and throw money into a genuine metal 40s bucket.

The station has had all its notices and posters changed to French, in a very professional way and railway volunteers are dressed as French workmen. The small café has a long queue of people waiting to by drinks and snacks- they must take more money in one weekend than all the year!

A large marquee has been erected “Café Allee du Bois”- complete with silver birch trees! We are greeted in French and shown to tables with candles flickering and the menu in French. Delicious baguettes and croissants are on offer, a refuge from the war. Outside a row of red legged (known as French) partridges are for sale, from the local estate. My son and grandson are volunteers on the railway, and had spent the previous weekend helping to create the café, so are keen to show us around.

There is an amazing array of costumes, people have really entered into the 40s spirit. Men in suits with trilby hats, clutching battered small suitcases; boys in caps and short trousers; girls with pigtails, berets and fair isle woollen cardigans. Both evacuated boys and girls had their gas mask cases round their necks and had name labels on. The women are the most creative with their “Victory roll” hairstyles and hair nets topped by smart hats. There is a variety of dresses and costumes, but fur is the order of the day. You don’t see fur today – not politically correct, but lots must have been in peoples attics or cupboards, it is everywhere. Collars, stoles, capes and coats in a variety of rich browns with heads, feet and tails still attached! Wicker baskets are the choice to carry possessions in apart for the lucky few with 40s handbags.

I’d made an effort to look 40ish, but looked a bit amateurish -I will have to look for an animal skin for next time. Others are not just 40ish but are in character – spivs, sophisticated women of the world, country bumpkins, soldiers, airmen, sailors.
It is easy to slip into 40s mode and see those in contemporary dress as dull.

Au revoir Le Visham! It is good to go back to the present at the end of the day. A car to travel home in, fish and chips take-way en route and central heating!

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 1 Comment(s)

  • ESW
    about 5 years ago
    This sounds a really fun day out. AND I've got a fur coat in the back of the wardrobe which belonged to an aunt and would be the right vintage to wear too...