Return to Preston Station: Soldiers and Sailors ‘free buffet’

Posted on - 22nd March, 2014 - 1:00pm | Author - | Posted in - History, Nostalgia, Preston City Centre, Preston Locations, Things to Do in and around Preston, What's On in Preston
Image courtesy of Lancashire County Council and Preston City Council

Image courtesy of Lancashire County Council and Preston City Council

On Tuesday 25 March, actors will re-create the ‘free buffet’ laid on for tired soldiers and sailors offered by Preston women during World War 1.


Come down to Preston railway station waiting room from 1.30pm – 4.00pm to learn more about the unique way the station supported the WW1 war effort.

This drop in event will see actors from Preston’s Wooden Spoons Theatre Company bring to life characters who worked in Preston’s Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Free Buffet from 1915–1919, serving tea and coffee and telling stories from some of the documentation we have from this time.

The free buffet was set up by a committee of influential Preston women to help provide refreshments and support to tired and hungry sailors and soldiers who arrived at Preston throughout the day and night.

During the life of the buffet, over 400 volunteers helped to run this service, working 12-hour shifts both day and night. Over 3 ¼ million servicemen were catered for by these volunteers. By 1917 the average amount of men served in a 24 hour period was 3,250 – an incredible feat for a service entirely funded by donations.

Deputy Leader of Preston City Council, Councillor John Swindells, said: “The Preston Remembers project is about paying tribute to those from Preston who served during World War 1.

“This re-enactment brings to life just how involved Preston was at that time, and is a fascinating story. It shows the warmth and compassion of Prestonians, which hasn’t changed over time, as the many volunteers on this and other projects in the city demonstrates.”

Part of the Heritage Lottery and Arts Council funded Preston Remembers project, this event will launch new interpretation that has been installed in the waiting room to further explain this fascinating story.

Will you go to the ‘Free Buffet’ celebration? Let us know in the comments below.

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