On the 11th November 1918, at 5am in the morning the armistice was signed marking the end of the First World War. The war had been raging for four and a half years, changing the very landscape of British society, killing and injuring millions across the globe. Officially though the war ended for definite with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919, and in July, Britain celebrated.
On the 19th July 1919, Royal Airforce soldier and Stockton man Wilf L Richardson took to the streets with his camera to celebrate with the whole town. People gathered in the high street as bands marched, people sang the national anthem, houses, and shops were decorated in patriotic colours, and games were held where residents of the town could win slices of beef.
There were street parties, children’s tea parties, games, sports, and competitions. The celebrations lasted through the night with parties, bonfires, and firework revelries and people were reported to have celebrated for 14 hours non-stop.
With his camera at hand, Wilf captured many of the scenes across the town, from the docks to the high street of people celebrating the end of the war.
Wilf L Richardson in his Royal Airforce uniform during the First World War, 1914 – 1918. Wilf is the man behind the camera of all these wonderful images taken during the Peace Day Celebrations in Stockton. He was a Stockton man and died in 1964.
A car goes through an unknows street in Stockton, decorated with flowers and a British flag. Taking part in the celebrations are several men in uniform in and on the car as it parades in front of onlookers.
Two women stop to admire a decorated house. Possibly their own handy work? Many houses were decorated just like this one with layers of coloured fabric, flags, bunting, and flowers, creating a patriotic scene.
Another car parades down Norton Roan with crowds of people gathered to watch. The occupant of this car has taken the opportunity to do some advertising, with a sign for beer visible on the side, as well as some union jacks.
A crown has gathered at the quayside to watch a man walk to the end of a thin plank. Was one of the games played as a part of the celebrations? Perhaps those who made it to the end of the plank got a prize!
Another view of the crowds gathered at the quayside, with a group gathered in a circle having a chat and a little boy in the foreground.
It seems not everything came to a halt for the celebrations as Wilf was able to capture this steamship docking with passengers getting off. Maybe they were coming to join in the celebrations?
A close-up of two women and a man captured on Stockton High Street. On the day of the celebrations, one newspaper reported that ‘Joy must fill every heart’ and in Stockton ‘people sang the national anthem with all their hearts and all the powers their lungs could give’.
Another close-up image of some of the on-lookers at the parades. Two women and a man stand outside William Strikes Florist on Stockton High Street watching the entertainment go past.
Here Wilf has captured an image of another decorated house on what is possibly Norton Road, with flower garlands, union jacks, and even a painting of the king. A passer-by has stopped to admire the skill that has gone into the decoration.
All images in this blog are courtesy of Preston Park Museum & Grounds.