Let the celebrations begin - precious pictures capture joy of peace as VE Day is celebrated at street parties in Ipswich

The street party in Sherborne Avenue, Ipswich. Christine Gammie is the girl in the striped cardigan

The street party in Sherborne Avenue, Ipswich. Christine Gammie is the girl in the striped cardigan

It was a celebration like no other. After nearly six long, dark years, the war was over – and it was time to party time in Ipswich.

Across town, dozens of street parties were quickly organised, food coupons were gathered, and wonderful “spreads’’ were created for young and old alike.

As we approach the 70th anniversary of VE Day, we capture the spirit of dozens of those parties – and a few from VJ Day – courtesy of some wonderful photographs supplied by Dave Kindred, and readers’ contributions compiled by Steve Russell.

You might well recognise a loved one, or an old friend, among the faces here - or the other photos published in our special supplement available in today’s paper.You may even see a younger version of yourself in one of the pictures! We hope you enjoy the memories of a momentous day.

As editor Terry Hunt writes, at a party or celebration today many of those attending, including children, will have a camera of some form with them.

Hundreds of photographs get taken from every angle.

How many of them will survive the next 70 years, only time will tell.

When photographs were taken at the end of the Second World War a camera was a relatively rare thing. Not all families had a camera and film was both expensive and scarce after years of war.

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A few of the Victory in Europe and Victory in Japan party photos would have been taken on the family box camera or by a keen amateur with more sophisticated equipment, but most were by enterprising local photographers who visited street parties with an eye to selling prints as keepsakes.

It is these pictures which have been stored by families for years to remind them of the days immediately after the war, when the lights could go back on in streets and shops and life could be more fun again.

The professional photographers included Reg Fisk in Ipswich, who was then trading as Tudor Photos.

After serving as a photographer in the RAF, Reg visited many of the street parties, organising big groups and packing in as many faces as he could to maximise print sales.

Stowmarket area photographer George Wilden captured some great photographs of celebrations in the centre of Ipswich and we are grateful to the Stowmarket Local History Group, who have much of his work on file, for giving us access to his pictures of events in Ipswich.

Those keen young faces included in the photographs are now all over 70 years old, but the photographs will remind them of the joy and fun as their neighbourhood celebrated peace.

The photos have already evoked memories for some.

The little girl in the striped cardigan in the front row of the Victory in Europe street party in Sherborne Avenue, Ipswich, is Christine Gammie, who grew up to be Christine Bennett.

“I was just over two years old at the time and can remember being at the party,” she says.

“I can identify some of the mothers and children. The lady with me is my aunt, who was staying with my mother as both their husbands were serving in the Royal Navy.

“My mother was unwell at the time (following a miscarriage) and is not on the photo. My aunt is pregnant with my cousin, who will be 70 in July.”

Mary Whurr (neé King), who now lives just outside Ipswich, saw a copy of the picture.

“I was at junior school with Christine, although I have not seen her since, and when I studied the photo I noticed I was two away from Christine with my mother, grandmother and cousin,” she tells us.

“We all lived nearby in Sidegate Lane and my cousin now lives in Australia. I cannot, however, remember the party!”