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Wartime in The Barn
Having fun at a war-time dance - young people in an archive photo.

Sunday Citizen December 1, 2002

Nationally, 1942 began as a very bleak year, writes local historian John Taylor. Even Bletchley Park would have little success, for with the Germans shortly to change the Enigma key for U boats, these transmissions would become virtually secure, leading to almost unsustainable shipping losses in the Atlantic.

Perhaps it was therefore not surprising that a day of continuous prayer was held in St. Martin's Church on January 1, in response to an appeal by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Elsewhere in the town, various organisations were doing their best to maintain morale and the Rest Room Committee reported that the room - actually a brick building next to the Methodist Hut in Bletchley Road - was open for evacuees between 2pm and 6pm.

In other entertainments, a dance at the Senior School Hall featured the Melody Makers Dance Band from Woburn Sands, and the Spurgeon Baptist Church hosted a Youth Week.

For youth activities of a more permanent nature, good progress was being made with the new Service of Youth sports ground in Albert Street, where with the fencing complete, work now began to renovate the pavilion.

Eventually facilities would be available for football, hockey and netball with the ATC, Boys' Brigade and Boy Scouts having the alternate use on Saturdays during the season.

Former members retain fond memories of the club, including the lady whose reminiscence of The Barn is now recalled.

Sixty years ago, in the summer of 1942, the Bletchley Co-operative Society offered the youth of the town the use of the sports pavilion and sports ground at the top of Park Street and Albert Street.

The pavilion was in a very poor state and the understanding was that the young people would clean it and paint the windows with black paint (curtains were not possible) for the black out. They were given some rations in order to have cheese rolls, etc, and cups of tea.

Marjorie Wells (later Leonard, now sadly passed awayl was a terrific artist and she would design the decorations for the various theme evening, for example Halloween, etc.

Somebody also provided a small wind-up gramophone with a supply of records - in the main Victor Sylvester.

Mr Horlock, the manager of Flet-tons Brickworks, was in charge and he was very kind, unobtrusive and the young people really responded to him.

All in all there used to be 30 to 40 people who used the facility, but of course some of the lads were called up during the war. The club was open several evenings a week, but Saturday evenings were something special with dances being held.

Unfortunately after the war people grew up, started to go their own way, and the spirit of the club died.

However, fond memories are still recalled of the good times spent there - so much so that one former member would be interested in arranging a reunion for any 'old members'.