World War II “Home Front” Experience

Yesterday I visited the World War II “Home Front” Experience in Llandudno, North Wales.

Home Front Experience Leaflet

It was a very interesting exhibit, and although it was set in a small space, there were lots of artefacts and information from the Second World War.  There were mock-up shop fronts from the era and also some room displays to show how people lived at the time.  Amongst the exhibits were a sweet shop, a chemist, a tobacconist, a toy shop, a post office, a general store, a classroom for evacuees, a “Women’s Land Army” scene, a typical 1940’s kitchen, a policeman’s office, an ARP (Air Raid Precaution) Warden Post and an Anderson Air Raid Shelter.


The interior was kept reasonably dark to replicate the conditions that people had to adhere to during blackouts.  You were given an old fashioned torch to help light the exhibit information stands as you were going round.  There was music from the 1940’s playing in the background.  In addition at the start of the experience, there was a repeated speech from Winston Churchill played from the wireless that was situated in a recreation of a modest lounge of the time.


Although it was done very well, to describe the museum as an experience seemed inadequate.  It was more an impressive collection of original World War II relics.  It was really more of a museum than an experience.  There was no interaction, no feel of what it would have been like to live under those conditions.  It was impersonal.


This visit has informed a concept decision in that my “experience” should be more immersive.  Did the ground shake in the underground shelters when bombs hit the ground?  How loud was an air raid siren?  What was it actually like sheltering underground?  Smells?  Light?  Atmosphere?  Sensations?  What was it like living on rations?  What was it like to wear a gas mask?  What must it have felt like to emerge from shelter day after day, to find everything changed, buildings obliterated, people gone?  How did people feel?

I am considering telling stories of the war based on real experiences; from real people’s prespectives; re-enactments.  Perhaps from a number of different types of people; children, mothers, soldiers, nurses, etc.; to make the experience personal.

Second World War Experience Leaflet

I would like to attempt to organise a visit, or to contact the Second World War Experience Centre based in Walton, Near Wetherby in West Yorkshire.  The organisation collects and shares wartime memories so that real wartime experiences are never forgotten.  Their mission is “To collect and encourage access to the surviving testimony of men and women who lived through the years of the Second World War and to ensure that different audiences share and learn from the personal recollections preserved in the collection”.

It is inevitable now that those with surviving memories of the Second World War will soon be gone, and with them the memories that will be lost forever.  It’s important to preserve their experiences so that future generations may understand what living through those years was like.

“Lest We Forget – We Will Remember Them”.  [extract from “For The Fallen” by Laurence Binyon]

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