THE sound of air raid sirens filled the air, and hundreds of people dressed as soldiers of different nationalities filled the streets of Pickering for the seventh annual wartime weekend.

During the event, held by the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, steam trains ran along the tracks between Pickering and Grosmont, stopping at each station along the way, where re-enactments of different aspects of life during the Second World War took place.

Visitors to Pickering Castle were captivated by dramatic presentations by actors depicting wartime events and experiences.

Hundreds of people heard stories of the Second World War, including that of a lance corporal describing his frantic retreat from the beaches of France and Belgium, and members of the Special Operations Executive talking about the risks of working for British Intelligence behind enemy lines.

"This was the first time that Pickering Castle has been involved in the wartime weekend and it went very well for us with hundreds of people visiting to see the performances by Royal Armouries re-enactors, all of which were very well received by appreciative audiences," said English Heritage regional events manager, Jonathan Hogan.

"With such a big site for visitors to enjoy I think it was a relief for many people from the town itself which was absolutely packed with 1940s enthusiasts of all descriptions."

Pickering also hosted dances and other events to enhance the 1940s theme. A park-and-ride service eased congestion in the town.

Updated: 11:02 Monday, October 20, 2003