A calm be­fore the storm of World War II

Sunday Sun - - News - By Dave Mor­ton david.mor­ton.ed­i­to­rial@ncj­me­dia.co.uk

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)

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