Look Out in the Blackout
European Heritage Open Day 2019
Free family event with hands-on activities for all ages!
On 3rd September 1939, the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain announced the declaration of war on Germany. Blackout regulations had been imposed two days before on 1st September. These required that all windows and doors should be covered at night with suitable material such as heavy curtains, cardboard or paint, to prevent the escape of any glimmer of light that might aid enemy aircraft.
The blackout caused serious problems for pedestrians and drivers. The number of road accidents increased because of the lack of streetlights and dimmed traffic lights. To help prevent accidents white stripes were painted on the roads, pavements and lampposts. People were encouraged to walk facing the traffic and to leave their white shirttails hanging out so that they could be seen by cars with dimmed headlights. The Look Out in the Blackout campaign began in 1940 due to the number of fatal accidents in the blackout.
Over the next few months petrol and food rationing was introduced. Identity cards and gas masks were circulated, and the ringing of church bells was banned except to signal an attempted invasion. Clothing rationing was introduced in 1941.
Visit the Northern Ireland War Memorial on 14th September to learn about the blackout, other air raid precautions and the evacuation of children. Listen to 1940s music while you make your own identity card and ration book and take part in some hands-on Dig For Victory activities. Dress up in authentic uniforms and have a souvenir photograph taken as a pilot, a Home Guard soldier, an air raid warden or a nurse in the Belfast Blitz. This is a free family event with activities suitable for all ages.
The Northern Ireland War Memorial is an accredited museum in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter which tells the story of Northern Ireland’s contribution to the war effort during the Second World War. Objects on display relate to the Belfast Blitz, the Home Guard, the role of women and the presence of US forces in Northern Ireland.