Weekly Blog No 38 – Victory in Europe or VE Day

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On this day in 1945, 70 years ago both Great Britain and the United States celebrated Victory in Europe Day. The surrender of the German forces had been suspected after the suicide of Adolf Hitlers on 30th April 1945. On the 7th May 1945, Germany unconditional signed a surrender and on the 8th May at 11.01pm all active operations would creased. Germany’s  surrender brought an end to 6 years of hardship and war.

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This instrument of surrender was signed at General Dwight D Eisenhower’s headquarters in Reims by General Alfred Jodl, Chief of Staff of the German Army. At the same time, he signed three other surrender documents, one each for Great Britain, Russia, and France.

Winston Churchill officially announced  an “End of War in Europe” speech on the wireless and everywhere became a place of celebration. The Government allowed bonfires using only items of no salvage value to be burned. The Board of Trade until the end of May allowed  people to buy cotton bunting without coupons as long as it was red, white & blue and cost no more than a shilling.

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The streets were filled with tricolour flags and bunting and people worn either rosettes or ribbons. The people were rolling out into the streets to enjoy the atmosphere and merriment.

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A street party

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Canadian soldiers entertaining the crowd

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People dancing around the Clock Tower, Leicester

The Royal Family enter the balcony of Buckingham Palace later that afternoon to wave to the crowds. King George VI made the last official speech to the nation at 9pm and Buckingham Palace was lit by floodlights, the first time in 6 years

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Thunderstorms and rain brought the celebrations to an end, however people still had a rocky road ahead.  Rations continued on certain items right up till 1952. Men returned home with physical and mental disorders. Children returned to their family homes following excavation. Theses are only some of the things people had to endure with life after Victory in Europe.

We as people have to acknowledge and be grateful for life that we have. Without the war efforts, where would we be today.  Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Weekly Blog No 21 – Reflection of Rural England (Rutland)

Another blogger suggested that I should blog about my construction career, so over a series of weeks I’m going to discuss some of the places that I have worked, some of the buildings that I have  worked on and to add a bit of extra spice, some history facts.

I couldn’t tell you how many cities, towns and villages I’ve had the pleasure to work in, however I’m going to attempt to name a few over the next few weeks. I’m going to explain some of the terms in greater detail for my readership outside the UK.

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Map of England Counties (States)

I have attached a map of UK, which shows England’s counties in the paler green. England has about 39 in total and is purely for the purposes of administrative, political and geographical demarcation. Rutland is the smallest County (State) in England and is part of the East Midlands. The small area on the map next to Leics (Leicestershire) Is Rutland. Rutland is about 151 sq miles and is home of the biggest man-made water reservoir known as Rutland Water.

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Rutland Water

Rutland has two market towns Oakham and Uppingham and roughly 53 villages (Communities). Rutland is full of historic buildings, a sea of limestone/ironstone, slate and thatched properties and very appealing on the eye.

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.Oakham Property

Rutland for me was excellent career training, the skills and knowledge that I gained has proved invaluable. My days vary so much, I could be organizing contractors to clear a septic tank to a public building, arranging suitable security systems to schools, reacting to vandalism to public toilets(washroom) , negotiating work on Listed Buildings with Planners, resurfacing public car parks, organizing indemnity agreements with film crews to installing disabled toilet facilities in public buildings. No day was the same and you had to juggle a lot of work, I could be working on 20 plus projects at one time.

Again I did my work with tunnel vision and didn’t appreciate what was right in front of my eyes. I’ve always loved Rutland and had always respected that I was part of a team that took care of public property within the county, however I never really valued how whimsical it really was. “People say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” or should it be “Appreciate what you have before it becomes what you had.”

My workplace was in Oakham and here’s a photo of my office building, in fact I would sit behind that bay window. The green on the door was the corporate colour for Rutland, I still to this day remember specifying “Buckingham Green” on specifications from external decoration to signage.

Office Building

Oakham Castle was built about 1180, a classic case of Norman domestic architecture. One of Oakham’s oldest tourist attractions, the Great Hall is still used today for crown court cases and civil weddings.

The Gates to the Castle

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Oakham Castle

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The Great Hall

I was responsible for all the necessary paperwork and conditions surveys on public properties and car parks used by film location crews. One movie filmed in Oakham was the “Great Expectations, 1999.. It it was amazing to see the changes to the street scene with animals roaming around.

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Photo from Zens Lens History

Another project I worked on was to prepare public buildings for the Queens visit in June 2001, it’s amazing what preparation goes on before a royal visit. I was organising contractors left right and centre. I was even present when Scotland Yard were lifting manhole covers on route to check for bomb devices. I was lucky to be at Oakham Library, when the Queen arrived at the sensory garden. I have to say I’m not an avid royalist but I was star struck or should I say Queen struck.

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The Queens Visit

Uppingham is the 2nd  beautiful market town in Rutland and was also within in my area of work

Uppingham Market Square

The town is picturesque and has various historic buildings including a Public (Private) School. The church of St Marks & St Paul’ dated back to 14th Century and Uppingham Workhouse dated back to 18th Century.

Uppingham School dated back to 16th Century

The Minstry of Defence have various camps in Rutland and my work allow me work on buildings within these sites. I haven’t touched a quarter of what my work involved, nevertheless I did thoroughly enjoyed my employment and the skills gained in such a wonderful county. Thank you Rutland