VJ Day at Newman Brothers, 1945

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© Birmingham Mail. VJ Day in Birmingham outside Birmingham Council House.

© Birmingham Mail. VJ Day in Birmingham outside Birmingham Council House.

This weekend marks the anniversary of Japan surrendering during the Second World War. Prime Minister, Clement Atlee, addressed the nation at midnight on 15TH August 1945 announcing the surrender, in a broadcast from Downing Street.

The next two days were declared public holidays and the buoyant celebrations in Birmingham reinforced what the end of the War really meant to people of this city.

Page from Newman Brothers' ledger, week beginning 18th  August 1945. At the bottom in red, is the writing 'one day’s pay for VJ day, 8½ hours'.

©Newman Brothers. Page from a Newman Brothers’ ledger, week beginning 18th August 1945. At the bottom of the page in red, is the writing, ‘one day’s pay for VJ day, 8½ hours’.

It seems that the staff at Newman Brothers also had that day off and presumably took part in the day’s revelry. Recorded at the bottom of a wages ledger from the week of 18th August 1945 are the words ‘one day’s pay for VJ day, 8½ hours.’ They were paid for the second day the week after on 25th August, again the ledger said ‘one VJ holiday included, 8 ½ hours’.

© IWM (D 9416) bomb damage Birmingham

© IWM (D 9416) Large bomb site in 1942 on the corner of New Street in Birmingham, where Grosvenor House stands today.

Just a stone’s throw away from Newman Brothers on 15th August that year, were crowds of people singing and dancing in Victoria Square, rejoicing in the fact that the War was finally over. At that point, Newman Brothers only had 20 staff on the ‘books’ – the War had proved difficult for them – and of those 20 people, it’s likely that some at least, were present to witness that historic moment when the city came together to celebrate the end of six years of conflict, in what was the biggest ‘street party’ Birmingham had seen in many years.

We’ll be digging deeper into the Newman Brothers’ archive making many more discoveries from this period, so look out for our future blogs.

Sarah Hayes, Collections & Exhibitions Manager

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On August 16, 2015
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