A ride to 1940!

Several weeks ago we went for a spin on the bike to our nearby east coast. Julie wagged her finger on the map and said …”let’s go in this direction today shall we?” … So, with the plan sorted we fuelled with petrol and set off to Gainsborough and Lincoln, we didn’t take the usual track down the A15 but took a different road round the back of Lincoln and through Washingborough then onwards towards the coast on B roads. Once there we would have lunch then just follow our nose to wherever!
 It promised to be a sunny day after an overcast start, sure enough after 09.30 hrs the sun burnt through the light grey haze, in no time the sky was nice and blue with the temperature climbing past 18 degrees. It’s always good to be out on the roads early because there are no caravans, piggin motor-homes or bloody tractors about, older people take longer to get up and moving thankfully!
We were doing nicely exploring the little B roads in East Lincolnshire and had just gone through the village of Martin, when we noticed a few buntings on the street lamps and thought maybe they had had a village carnival or something. We approached the next place a mile up the road and stumbled into 1940.


This was the beautiful Woodhall Spa and they were having a 1940’s weekend, the place was buzzing with activity, people were everywhere and jazz music could be heard. We found a place to park, we could hear music from the park up ahead, it was that old “Big band” sound. On stage was a lady in period dress and her long blonde hair was up in a ball held with grips and things, she was  belting out the sounds of yesteryear, behind her a DJ spun some old 78 black vinyl records.

Bronze nylon stockings

We were walking behind a couple of ladies in jacket and skirts they had fox fur over their shoulders and little hats on their heads, they had nylon stockings with a black seam up the back of their legs. They looked very smart.
I remember mum telling me stories of her youth and the times when they couldn’t get hold of nylon stockings, they used to get their friends to draw a line down the back if their legs with an eye liner pencil to look like a seam! My mum worked very hard during the war working first in the munitions factories at Thorpe Arch, it’s long gone now, in fact part of it is now a prison HMP Wealstun.  Mum had a hand in producing millions of 20mm cannon shells.  She remembers getting covered in yellow cordite constantly. Nobody was provided with protective clothing in those days consequently her health suffered somewhat as a result. I remember her blaming the yellow stuff for how she felt sometimes. She was moved at some point by the Ministry of Works to Dewsbury in West Yorkshire and she built trucks for the army. in the evenings she worked as a barmaid…Dad told me of the night a negro GI tried to chat mum up, He and his pit-mate’s  “befriended” said negro soldier, plying the poor guy with a few pints of Yorkshires finest before escorting him out of the bar and  “duffing” him up before chucking him into a ditch to sober off for the night.  He’s 91 now and still chuckles at the memory of the poor black lad and his eyes rolling all over the place!!!

                Mum and dad pose for a photograph in Blackpool in 1944

Anyway back to today’s show at Woodhall Spa! A lot of men dressed in military uniform and had wives or lady friends on their arm they were also dressed for the occasion in period outfits ladies mainly of flowery dresses, fox furs gloves and pencilled seamed stockings.


 I saw a couple of teenagers dressed as Land army girls, so it wasn’t just the older people dressing up and / or reliving their past…. I’m not sure they would let my old dad re-enact him protecting my mum from US soldiers. Latr in the afternoon I did see an old boy dressed as a coal miner with his lamp! Aha somebody remembered my dad after all!
The motor car enthusiasts were here with their immaculate cars, I think the cars of yesteryear are more interesting to look at, they seem to have more character colour and shape than most of today’s cars don’t you agree? Besides that I can remember the names of quite a few of them back then. Dad used to take us on Sunday drives in the family car in the 1970’s I remember a couple of them, my favourite was the big light blue Austin Cambridge, an Austin 1100 and an Chrysler Alpine. When I was about 10 just me and my dad used to go off for the day in the car and left mum at home, we used to go wherever dad fancied. I think I probably got the travelling bug from those Sundays in the car……Remember….double left click to make the picture LARGE!…


A few military vehicles were on show too, a couple of Land Rovers, a jeep, truck and two motorbikes, none of the vehicles were not specifically 1940, I think most of the cars were from the 1960’s, but that didn’t detract from the historic sunny afternoon.

The houses around here in Woodhall Spa are worth a look, somebody took their time in building them and are not just thrown together like most appear to be these days.

The nearby grand looking hotel that is also home to a golf club, it started way back in 1891 and eventually became the National Golf Centre, I don’t like golf but it does look very grand!
We saw a memorial to the RAF personnel who gave their lives in the name of freedom and a large gathering of RAF with a smaller contingent of Royal Navy stood to attention in the square and performed a ceremony.

It was all very noble and proper even if most were just dressed for the day. Julie used to be in the RAF and told me about the “Hairy-Marys” You old RAF girls out there know what I mean don’t you?  For those that don’t, “Hairy-Marys” are horrid woollen No 2 RAF uniform. The battledress and skirts made the girls itch like mad!

                                        Bloody “Hairy Mary’s”!!!….No its not Julie

After the ceremony we decided to move on, we joined the traffic moving towards the coast. At first we were making progress and passed most of the cars with ease until we came up behind a slow moving column of cars. Oh bloody hell they had finally dragged themselves out of bed and decided to clog the roads with their bloody caravans, ‘ extremely difficult to pass these things on country roads in a car and so the speed dropped to around thirty mph, spoiling EVERYONES day!! We turned off at the earliest opportunity to follow our nose on the quieter back road’s, we glanced at the map and knew roughly where we were heading. After a while we saw the signs for Mablethorpe. Before too long we were just five miles out as we rejoined the busy A157. We decided to stop here for a traditional dinner of fish and chips. A healthy number of motorbikes where here already which was nice to see! I am not a fan of Mablethorpe town  as a town but the roads getting here are excellent biking roads and Mablethorpe  does have one of the best beaches on the east coast.

                                                              THIS is Julie!
After lunch we walked along the front walking off the fish and chip dinner, the sun was really bursting now and lots of pale skin was on show, people sunbathed kids screamed and laughed as they funned and frolicked in the sand, we sat on the steps and watched an extended family playing “rounders” everyone was having a great time, there certainly was a feel good factor today in Mablethorpe, so Yah Boo Bollix to the recession!

It was time to move on again, we decided to explore a little road, the A1031, in the direction of Cleethorpes. I can see why people refer to these parts as Little Holland, it’s quite stunning the houses too are original and quaint even if they are in the middle of nowhere, the road isn’t busy and zig zags around the edge of the fields, the small villages have some brilliant names, Saltfleet by All Saints is a brightly coloured gem and worthy of a return visit. Conisholme then Marshchapel are the next villages we ride through. Humberston was next, the traffic increased now as we rode into the bustling seafront of Cleethorpes, we rode down to the pier and had a short break here, it was overflowing with folk as the sun coaxed people out the pubs, betting shops, amusement arcades and council estates, it also coaxed out some pretty desperate looking individuals, It was time to go we decided, riding up and through the dirty dilapidated edges of town, a fair few frontages where shut or boarded up, leaving just those practically on the sea front open. The only new premises I saw was a lap dancing club! We turned towards Grimsby, the old fishing town was certainly changing, the docks were getting busy again, this time with hundreds if not thousands of brand new cars and vans taking up acres and acres of room, I’m not sure if they were exporting or importing them. The A180 turned away from the town and ran towards Immingham, we saw more of the same here and a lot more industry, huge chemical plants to our right and farm land to our left. Some ocean going cargo ships filled and emptied alongside the docks, others made their way further up the Humber estuary. The road now turned into the M180, I stepped up the pace and we raced along the tarmac passing just about everybody. We actually travelled along the whole length of the M180, it ended at Hatfield and turned left or right onto the M18, another short motorway. Home was less than twenty minutes away, Julie and I had enjoyed our 150 mile browse along the east coast today. I was thinking about the gathering that evening in our local as “Nudge Needham” a fellow keeper was celebrating his last shift at the zoo, hell there is a lot of us leaving this year….

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