Barton During World War II


One of the public Air Raid shelters in Barton during World War 2
A public air raid shelter along Holydyke/Fleetgate.
An example of a brick-built air raid shelter for houses with wetter ground where the Anderson shelter was not appropriate.
An example of a brick-built air raid shelter for houses with wetter ground where the Anderson shelter was not appropriate.
High Street during the war - courtesy of Brian Peeps
High Street early in the war - as you can tell by the white marks on the street corners. (Picture courtesy of Brian Peeps)
Enterprise and Silver Dawn bus company emergency war time timetables, taken from the Barton Almanac of 1940.

Barton was effected by the second world war as much as any other town of its size. Many people left the town to join the forces (some not to return), and the rest were left to fight the war on the Home Front.  War was declared on Sunday 3rd September 1939 and, due to its position close to Hull and on the Humber Estuary, Barton was in a vulnerable position.  Thankfully, though, it did not suffer too badly during air raids, with only a few bombs dropping in the area.  In October 1939 everyone who was registered in the National Register received an identity card and a ration book.  The main shopping area in Barton at that time was Market Lane, Market Place, George Street, King Street, High Street and Fleetgate.  There was a variety of shops so there was plenty of places to obtain the rations.  To supplement the rations people were encouraged to grow their own vegetables etc.  This lead to every available piece of land being used in the war effort, from growing vegetables at schools to grazing sheep in Baysgarth Park.

In the home windows needed to be blacked out and taped up so they didn't shatter if a bomb dropped nearby.  Many people relied on the wireless to keep them informed of how the war effort was going and they had many other essentials, including the gas mask.  Air raid shelters were also supplied.  There was 12 public air raid shelters around the town but many houses received Anderson Shelters.  These were corrugated iron shelters with arched shaped roofs which had earth built up around them.  For the houses that were in wetter areas, for example Butts Road or Pasture Road,  a brick built shelter with a one foot thick concrete roof was built instead.  The main phrase of home life in Barton during the war was "Make do and mend".

Transport in Barton during the war was much different than it is today.  Most people used either a bicycle, bus or the train.  The train station in Barton during the war was much larger and more developed than it is today.  It had two lines in the station, although there was still only one line coming into the town, a large station office, and most of what is the present car park to the south and sewage works to the north was goods sheds and rail sidings.  There was also a good number of bus services through the town and the passenger ferry service from New Holland to Hull.  This was not immune to the war as the P.S. Killingholme which was running the New Holland to Hull ferry service became a sea plane carrier during the war.

During the war there was many civil defence services set up in Barton.  There was Report and Communication centres, Ambulance drivers, Decontamination Squads, First Aid Posts and Parties, Rescue and Demolition Parties, and Air Raid Wardens.  Everyone wanted to do their bit and these were ideal for those not able to join the Military services.  There was also other defence services in Barton such as The Emergency Centre at Baysgarth House, The Home Guard, The Auxcillary Fire Service, The Territorial Army, HM Auxillary Units, St John's Ambulance, British Red Cross Society, The Royal Observer Corps, the Women's Voluntary Service, The Air Training Corps, the Barton Comforts Fund, The Ladies Rifle Club and the Police amongst others.  All these, and the people who gave their time to help them in Barton, contributed to the war effort.

Barton had many important industries during the war.  The Elswick Hopper Cycle Works helped by making such things as nose-cones for tracer and machine gun bullets, and bicycles for the armed forces.  Hall's Barton Ropery helped by making cordage for the armed forces and the Merchant Navy.  There were seven brick and tile yards making bricks which were in large demand for repairing bomb-damaged buildings throughout the country.  Clapson & Son built various boats and mine sweepers which were used during the war.  The Barton Farmers Company produced fertiliser which was much needed by the country as more food had to be produced at home and the local farms were important too.  The Barton Railway Yard and Goods depot was a very important part of Barton industry as many things were brought in and left by train during the war.  Stamp's Market boat also brought goods in and out of Barton, weather permitting.  (It was so cold in the winter of 1940 that the market boat 'Every Ready' was frozen in Barton Haven.)  There were Engineering and Blacksmith shops, Bakers and many other industries large or small which were crucial to the people of Barton and beyond during the war.

There was a lighter side to the war.  There was two cinemas in Barton during the war, the Oxford Cinema down Newport and The Star Cinema on High Street/Fleetgate corner.  There was 12 public houses to keep Bartonians occupied.  The Waterside Inn near the mouth of the Haven, The Sloop Inn on the corner of Ings Lane and Waterside Road, The Royal Vaults at 47 Waterside Road, The White Swan Hotel opposite the Railway Station on the corner of Butts Road and Fleetgate, The Steam Packet on Fleetgate, The Coach and Horses on High Street, The Red Lion in Junction Square, The George Hotel on George Street, The White Lion Inn in the Market Place, The Wheatsheaf Hotel on Holydyke, The Blue Bell Inn on the corner of Whitecross Street and Barrow Road and the Volunteer Arms on Whitecross Street.  Of these the Waterside Inn is now a private house, The Royal Vaults is now flats, The Steam Packet is now called Charlies and The White Lion Inn is now business premises. There was also social clubs, social groups, dances and much more for Barton residents to enjoy.

Finally on the 8th May 1945 Barton residents celebrated VE Day around the town with flags and there was many celebration parades and events.  On the 14th August Barton then celebrated VJ Day meaning that hostilities in Barton (and the world for the time being) were over.


sources : Baysgarth House Museum - a large display on wartime Barton.
sources : Barton Remembered 1939- 1945 Part Two - The Home Front by Geoffrey F. Bryant and Dinah M. Tyszka - an excellent read packed with information about Barton during the war.
sources : Barton Family Almanac 1940.

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