ONE hundred years ago today - on August 19, 1919 - children across York were in the mood to celebrate.

Children's street parties were held across the city that day. Flags and bunting were hung, trestle tables were piled high with food, and the children went to great lengths to dress up, as nurses, soldiers and popular characters of the day - including Charlie Chaplin.

The reason for this sudden outburst of fun?

The end of the First World War, of course.

Yes, admittedly, hostilities had ended almost a year earlier, with the armistice on November 11, 1918.

But it wasn't until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919 that the war formally came to an end.

To mark the occasion, the government of the day decided that there would be a public holiday on July 19, 1919.

York celebrated the day in style, with a festival on the river.

Local historian Linda Haywood of the Bishopthorpe Community Archive wrote an account of the July celebrations recently for her parish magazine.

"The press reported that 'animated scenes were witnessed on the river'," she wrote. "Animated indeed as hundreds watched displays and swimming contests taking place between Lendal and Scarborough Bridges. This was followed by a water polo match and great excitement was caused by high diving performances from a parapet on Lendal Bridge.

"The Minster bells pealed for an hour at noon and again in the evening; shops, businesses and the Mansion House were gaily decorated, flowers were used in abundance. Parades marched through the streets and bands played on the Knavesmire and riverside walks."

It was clearly quite a day - as befitted the formal celebration of the end of a dreadful war which had taken so many lives.

But the celebrations didn't end there. It was decided that in York, and many of the villages around - including Bishopthorpe - children would have their own, later celebration, during the summer holiday.

In Bishopthorpe, the date chosen for this later street party was Tuesday, August 19. Hence that party 100 years ago today.

The Yorkshire Gazette of August 23, 1919, carried a full report.

"Every house and cottage was prettily decorated, and flags and bunting were hung at intervals across the highway, even the hedgerows being prettily adorned," the newspaper reported.

"Children to the number of about 100 were entertained to a most enjoyable tea, the tables being set down one side of the main road, and under the shelter of a belt of trees.

"Each child was presented with a specially decorated souvenir Peace mug, in addition to a bag of sweets and nuts.

"There were quite a number of children and adults in fancy dress, which added a very pretty effect.

"Among those were Mrs Doughty, as 'Liza Comes to Stay'; Mr Claud Wilson, as an Admiral; Mrs Lonsborough (hospital nurse), Jack Johnson (an Italian girl), Rex. Johnson (Charles Chaplin), Mrs Joe Fletcher and Mrs Arthur Lofthouse (Tommy Atkins), Miss Doughty (Irish colleen).

"A 'peace' cake, three tiers high, made by Mrs Walter Paver, was cut by Mrs Doughty and served to every child and adult in the village."

You may have gathered by now that this wasn't only a jamboree for children. Plenty of adults, having already celebrated the peace a month earlier, decided there was no reason not to celebrate again, says Linda, who has set up a small display in Bishopthorpe Library of photographs of the celebrations, and who provided the Bishopthorpe pictures we have used today.

"At six o’ clock about 200 adults sat down to a 'sumptuous repast','" Linda wrote in her article for the parish magazine. "As well as the fancy dress competition, numerous races were held including 'Cockerel' races for married men, married women and children. Later in the evening Rex Johnson, who had won the slow bicycle race, revived in time to play piano for the dancing. The party concluded with a good display of fireworks."

As well as the four photographs supplied by Linda, we have also dug out some photos of other street celebrations held in York in the summer of 1919 to celebrate the end of the war. These were supplied to us a few years ago by reader Bryan Thornton.

Between them, they provide a vivid glimpse of a city that was still overcome by joy at the end of that awful war.

Many thanks, Bryan and Linda.

Stephen Lewis

Linda Haywood's exhibition runs at Bishopthorpe Library during library opening hours.

The photographs in the exhibition come from the Bishopthorpe Community Archive, Village Hall, Main Street, Bishopthorpe. The archive is open to the public on Monday afternoons from 2.30 - 5pm, except Bank Holidays.