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VE Day at Home

in Kettering

VE Day this year is going to be very different for us all. Sadly, we have had to cancel our community celebrations, which were due to take place on the bank holiday weekend of the 8th – 10th May. Instead, Kettering Museum and Art Gallery would like to invite you and your family to join in with our online VE Day celebrations at home.  With free activities, stories of wartime Kettering and ways to connect with the community, there will be lots of ideas to keep you entertained and the chance to pay tribute to the Second World War generation. 

Keep an eye on our social media channels in the coming weeks. We will be posting stories and objects from our current ‘VE 75’ exhibition and sharing ways for you to get involved.

In these uncertain times the spirit of the war years lives on. The need to stay connected, helping-out your neighbour, and recipes for an eggless cake, are all as important today as they were then! We hope you will join us to celebrate this special day in your own unique way.

Ways to celebrate and remember

This year marks a very special anniversary: 75 years since the fighting in Europe came to an end and millions of lives were changed forever.  Kettering Museum and Art Gallery would like to find ways for you to be able to remember and celebrate, so we have some ideas below.

Wartime Recipes: great or gross? 

We asked our lovely Friends of Kettering Art Gallery and Museum if they might be able to help us and Barb kindly offered to re-create some wartime favourites! Follow the recipes provided here to try your hand at some 1940’s classics!

The Friends of Kettering Art Gallery and Museum is a charity who supports the work of Kettering Museum and Gallery.  If you are interested in finding out more about what they do please visit

Lord Woolton Pie


1lb cauliflower

1lb parsnips

1lb carrots

1lb potatoes

Bunch of spring onions chopped

2 teaspoons of Marmite (yeast extract – or you can use a stock cube)

Tablespoon of rolled oats

Salt and pepper to taste once cooked.

Parsley (fresh or dried)



Rock Buns


8 oz wholemeal/wholewheat flour

4 teaspoons of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon mixed spice/all spice

2 oz margarine

2 oz sugar

2 oz sultanas or dried mixed fruit

1 egg or 1 reconstituted dried egg


2 teaspoons sugar for topping


Thank you for the music

Like any other generation, music was an important part of wartime life.  If you fancy listening to some authentic 1940s’ music to set the mood, English Heritage have come up with a fantastic playlist on Spotify, so go for it and rock out!

The Royal British Legion is set to broadcast a sing-a-long at 9pm on Friday 8th May. Dame Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’ will be part of the VE Day event on BBC One.


The Nation’s Toast to the Heroes of WW2

The national celebrations planned for VE Day proposed that people could take part in raising a toast to the nation’s WW2 heroes in pubs and restaurants across the UK. Sadly, this can no longer happen, but we would like to encourage everyone to join in at home instead and raise a glass at 3pm on 8th May.

 ‘To those that gave so much, we thank you’

We would love to see a photo of you sharing a toast with us on social media

Keep Crafting and Carry On!

If you are looking for ways to keep your children (and yourselves) entertained, then look no further than our VE Day- themed decorations. They require equipment, which we are sure you will have at home, and will be perfect to help re-create the atmosphere of a street party in the comfort of your own front room!

Be sure to share your creations with us on our social media

Share your stories

A regular feature of our museum exhibitions that we really enjoy is the opportunity to hear from our visitors! During our ‘VE 75’ exhibition we asked people to remember or share a story, about a family member or loved one, who lived through the wartime years.  We thought you might like to read some of them.

 Roll of Honour

Did you know that the war memorials in Kettering are located just outside the Art Gallery entrance, on Sheep Street?  They can be visited when the Museum and Gallery gardens are open.  Because that will not be possible this VE Day we wanted to record the names of those commemorated on it here.


WWII memorial 
list of names

If you would like to know more about the individuals listed on the memorial, please visit the British Legion page, where you can find a biography for each person.

VE Day in Kettering



The Kettering conga

“A few of us went into Kettering town centre where thousands of people were dancing, singing and cheering…..I joined a long line dancing the conga; it grew longer and longer minute by minute, slowly leaving the crowded Market Place, weaving up Market street, across London Road, along Green Lane and into Mill Road.  It must have been hundreds of yards long, and still growing as we conga’d along Thorngate Street, over Stamford Road and up Wellington Street.  Everywhere we passed impromptu parties in the street, the conga line splintered into differentdirections; everyone wanted to be with everyone else at the same time; we just went crazy.”

Allah Buksh recalls the day he heard the war was over to the ET in 1995

Want to know more about wartime Kettering?

Before the lockdown began the exhibition at the museum was about VE Day and wartime Kettering.  The good news is that we now plan to extend this exhibition until 2021 to give our visitors the chance to see it when we reopen.  You can keep up to date (when we reopen) with Museum and Gallery exhibitions and events here


My call-up papers have arrived

Charlie Dix was one of twelve children from Gladstone Street, Kettering.  Of the family’s ten sons, he was one of seven in the Army. Two of his brothers worked in government and his two sisters made munitions.  He recalls the day he was called-up:

‘It’s here – my call-up papers have arrived…….I’ve passed my Medical A1.  Choice of Services – Army Medical Corps or Army Physical Training Corps – have been told that my qualifications are more than adequate: Certificates for Gas Training & Medical Work – Cups and Certificates for Gymnastics, also Gym Instructor at Gym Club in Kettering.  (GUESS WHAT?)   The P.B.I. were short of men so my first experience of Soldiering was with the County Regiment 2nd Battalion Northants. – not called the ‘Steelbacks’ for nothing.  Discipline was tough – my Scout training in good stead.  What memories!!  Maybe I’ll write my war memories one day.’ 

American arrivals

American servicemen were a daily feature of wartime life in Kettering due to the close proximity of several airbases.  Segregation was an official wartime policy, which saw the Americans billeted in separate accommodation to avoid interaction.  It is rare to hear about the contributions of the black GIs but, amazingly, footage of black US soldiers marching through Kettering town centre does exist! The footage is provided by Farm Footage on YouTube.


Clarke Gable

Oscar-winning film star, Clarke Gable, was one of the American servicemen stationed locally at Polebrook for the summer of 1943.  Having starred in the hit film, ‘Gone with the Wind’, in 1939, he was the heartthrob of his generation and caused a stir locally.  There are many rumours about the pubs he drank in, the people he met and the aunties who turned him down for a dance!

The D-Day diary of Captain F Chater

The family of Kettering man, Captain Chater, kindly donated his hand-written D-Day diary to the museum last year. It describes a personal and evocative account of the invasion which laid the foundations for allied victory.

‘As I was now feeling better I rallied my men together and told them to get their kits on. We were in what is called assault order light but if you have on top of that a blanket, ground sheets, leather jerkin it seems a hell of a lot, and as I had 2 more haversacks and a shovel strapped on, I was rather weighed down.

By this time we were sorting out the sides to disembark and I could hear distant shelling from our ships until at last we could see our naval might. Battleships, cruisers, destroyers and our liberty boats who had housed the assault party overnight before the transfer to LCA for the actual assault.’


Land Girl Joyce Dix

Joyce Dix is pictured on the left with her brother and sister, Ron and Evelyn, outside their home in Naseby Road. Evelyn worked in a munitions factory, producing weapons and ammunition.  It was a dangerous job and the hours were long.

Joyce initially went to work at Kettering General Hospital. After being accused of treating the German soldiers in her care “too nicely”, she decided to leave and join the Land Army instead.

As a Land Girl, Joyce worked at Home Farm in Loddington.  One of her duties was to walk the horses all the way to the blacksmith in Broughton, about 3 miles away.

Wartime toys

During the war, toys were not easy to come by.  Metal and rubber were reserved for the war effort so simple toys were made of wood, paper and cardboard instead. These wooden toys were made by Kettering man, Mr George.  His toys were so popular that he started to sell them at the local Woolworths shop and managed to save enough to buy a house after the war.


Jimmy the evacuee

This photograph shows the Liggins family in their back garden in Naseby Road.  On the right is Jimmy, the evacuee who lived with them during the war.  Jimmy was a similar age to Brian, the youngest son in the family.  Everyone got along well and even visited Great Yarmouth on holiday together.

Sadly, after Jimmy returned home to London, they lost touch and Mrs Liggins always wondered what had become of him.  Some years later a neighbour mentioned that a young lad on a motorbike had come to visit, when the family were out, and they always speculated if it had been Jimmy.

Waving Goodbye 

We would like to feature a poem written by Daphne Bourne. Her poem is entitled ‘Evacuee’ and was published in a book called ‘Waving Goodbye’ by Michael Bentinck. The poem is written from the perspective of her husband, who was an evacuee, sent from London to Broughton in 1939.  He settled in Broughton where he and Daphne raised a family.


Beware of spies

On 2nd September, 1940, the Home Guard confronted a man, lying under a bush, in a Denton ditch!  He was searched and found to be carrying £300, a portable radio transmitter and an automatic pistol. Described as wearing continental-style shoes and a tie with a tell- tale “un-English knot”, the German spy soon confessed. From Hamburg, he had parachuted over Northamptonshire in the early hours and had been lying in the ditch ever since. “You wouldn’t have got me,” he said, “if I hadn’t got a crack on the head as I landed”.

Our Community

Our sincerest thanks go out to everyone who was looking forward to taking part in our Street Party event this year. Although the event is now cancelled, we thought you might like to visit some of their websites and find out more about the groups and organisations which run locally.

Military Vehicle Trust
South East Midlands Area

The members of MVT’s South East Midlands Area look after and restore a whole range of ex-military vehicles, from the well-known Jeep, through to tanks, transporters, lorries, Land Rovers, motorbikes and even the humble folding bicycle. They are happy to make appearances at events and shows. Please take a look at their website to find out more.

Steve Dimmer

Magic shows were a popular form of entertainment for children during the war.  Local entertainer and regular performer at Kettering Market Place, Steve Dimmer, is a master of the authentic 1940s’ trick.

The Green Patch

The Green Patch is a fantastic, Groundwork-run community garden and allotments project in Kettering. They take part in events all year around, including hosting family events, and were hoping to take part in our Street Party and host a plant swap. Find out more about the amazing ways they support the community and discover what they have to offer at their site on Margaret Road.

The Blitz tea room and jazz lounge

Located right next door to the museum, the Blitz tea room caters to all your 1940’s needs.  A family run café with a loyal and passionate following. 

1101 (Kettering)
Air Cadets
The Kettering Citadel Band

We were looking forward to the live music of the Kettering Citadel Band keeping the local banding tradition alive.  For more information on the Salvation Army in Kettering please visit

MaSh Dance

MaSh Dance in Kettering is a school of dance school for all levels.  We were hoping to learn a few 1940’s moves but take a look at their website for details of all the fun classes they offer.

The Royal British Legion Kettering Branch

The Royal British Legion is a UK charity providing lifelong support for the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force, Reservists, veterans, and their families. They hold a drop-in session once a month. Follow the Kettering branch on Facebook.

Kettering Pensioners’ Parliament

A group for the over 55’s who meet and hear a variety of guest speakers at the Midland Band Club, Hallwood Road. New members always welcome. Tel: 01536 514849 or email

Duke Street

The residents of Duke Street celebrating VE Day with meat paste sandwiches, jam sandwiches, jelly and trifle.


Edgell Street

Article from the ET in 1993.

Edgell Street party clipping