A calm before the storm of World War II
THIS week 80 years ago as the nights began cutting in, the Sunday Sun’s sister paper, the Evening Chronicle, was running one of the last of its summer rail excursions.
The away day, costing £1 and four shillings (£78 in today’s money), took a train full of newspaper readers to and from the popular holiday resort of Blackpool.
The brochure for the trip, in late September 1938, stated: “A special dining car express will leave Newcastle Central Station at 8.45am. Lunch will be served on the train.”
The train would call at Birtley, Chester-le-Street, Durham, and Darlington, arriving at Blackpool Central at 2.40pm.
Once there, a “meat tea” was to be served at the Winter Gardens at “5pm prompt”. Each passenger would receive an admission ticket for the Winter Garden and Empress Ballroom. And “one free ascent of Blackpool Tower will also be allowed.”
The return train, leaving Blackpool Central at 11.40pm, arrived back in Newcastle at 5.22 in the morning. It must all have been a bit of a rush!
Eighty years ago, folk in the North East were getting on with their daily lives, but storm clouds were gathering across Europe.
Only 20 years after the end of the Great War, a new conflict would soon explode around the globe.
That would happen in 1939. In 1938, people kept an anxious eye on the news headlines - but life went on.
Folk in Newcastle shopped for bargains in Binns and Fenwick’s; a house in Jesmond would knock you back £450; and you could get your hands on a 1933 Wolsesley 12 saloon for £27 10 shillings.
In the booming cinemas, the big films that year were Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; Boys Town, starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney; and Jezebel, starring Bette Davis.
America was gripped by mass panic when many people thought HG Wells’ War Of The Worlds radio broadcast was a real-life alien invasion.
Eyes also turned momentarily to the boxing ring when, in the World Heavyweight fight in New York, the American Joe Louis knocked out Germany’s Max Schmeling in the first round. It was a popular victory.
But there would be trouble ahead (to paraphrase the popular Nat King Cole song of the time).
It was on this day in 1938 that British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, desperate to secure an agreement with Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany, returned to London from Munich, jubilantly declaring there would be “peace for our time” (not “peace in our time” as is often quoted).
The agreement unravelled quickly. Little over a year later, Britain and Germany were at war.
There would be precious few Chronicle summer excursions in 1939.
Enjoy our selection of Sunday Sun North East photographs from 80 years ago. Northumberland Road, Newcastle, 1938. The City Hall and Pool are down the road on the left
Above, Heslop’s butcher shop, New Elvet, Durham City, February 1938. (Beamish Museum); left, Chester-leStreet police station, Front Street, 1938 The Liberty monument in the distance - as seen from the chapel roof at Gibside, Gateshead. 1938
The launch of the destroyer HMS Kelly, Hebburn, 25 October 1938. (Tyne & Wear Archives)