A few pictures to say thanks to the many re-enactors, visitors and National Trust staff and volunteers at Trengwainton Gardens whom I met during their “spirit of the 1940s” event, an enjoyable and outing away from Newquay Zoo for our own Wartime Garden project display.
We had two exhibition areas staffed by myself and family and National Trust staff and volunteers, who helped us lug, load and put up the display (thanks to Marina, Abi, Gareth, Phil and many others). It was lovely to meet so many (of you) interesting people in a very busy but enjoyable 1940s day on Sunday 11 May 2014 at Trengwainton Gardens near Penzance, celebrating their wartime allotment project.
We spent a whole day chatting about recreating our own wartime garden as part of our research into how zoos and botanic gardens survived the shortages of the 1940s, partly through ‘Dig for Victory’ gardens to feed the animals. Many people asked about our First World War research into this area and also about its potential solutions for the future. We spoke to teachers about our schools workshops, handed out lots of free wartime recipe sheets to visitors and listened (over plentiful cups of tea) to many interesting wartime family stories. All to a great 1940s sound track.
Visitors and re-enactors turned up in period costume to join in with the event, which had 1940s music, vintage vehicles and some great cakes too!
For an event like Trengwainton’s 1940s day celebrating the spirit and ingenuity of the austere but stylish 1940s, it was wonderful to see the ingenious and spirited costumes summoned up by re-enactors and visitors alike.
In our wartime garden display tent, we heard many stories from visitors who were evacuated as children to the local area which we wish we could have recorded many of them. Not all the stories were happy ones, some were moved several times, others made friendships of a lifetime with their host families.
Along with costumed visitors and gardens staff, there were many re-enactors from the WW2 Re-enactment SouthWest group representing the British and American troops, Home Guard and Land Army girls who would have been at Trengwainton or stationed in the area.
Many of the re-enactors had pitched camp the night before and put together evocative collections of artefacts, from motorbikes to simple camp stoves and even a mini farm yard! Hopefully they were all awakened by bugle call!
Many of the re-enactors I spoke to were very busy with the forthcoming 70th anniversary commemorations of D -Day not only here in the South West but also in Normandy, paying tribute in their own way, sharing their interest with the next generation and showing that these remarkable and troubling times are not forgotten.
Following up our previous blog post, it was lovely to see the Wartime Garden project at Trengwainton full of visitors and growing away well. This was our connection to the day, a similar wartime garden recreation at Newquay Zoo, born around the same time in 2009 and with some shared research into crop varieties and period features. There’s also one at Occombe Farm in Devon!
Thanks to Claire for the pictures and thanks to all the people who took part, chatted to us and shared their stories and had their photos taken. If you don’t like your photo, please contact me via the comments and I can remove it. Hopefully this selection of photos gives you a feel of the event in 2014. If you’re not featured, sadly not all of the pictures came out. We look forward to next year (or whenever we next meet!)
Sadly after a day of 1940s singalong when I got home and unpacked our display materails, it was to find that David Lowe from BBC Radio Devon – almost the sound track of our wartime garden for many years – is now off air on Sunday evenings. We will not be alone across many generations in missing his programme greatly.
Mark Norris, WWZG World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall.