Wednesday, 21 December 2016

One hundred years of one house in Well Hall part 17 ........... of what is to come

This is the continuing story of one house in Well Hall Road and of the people who lived there including our family.*

Now how we celebrate Christmas is a very personal thing and is a mix of the current commercial hype, and family traditions which go back generations.

Growing up in Well Hall our celebrations drew not only on what we had done as kids every year but also leaned heavily on the type of Christmases enjoyed by mum and dad in the middle decades of the last century.

All of which has passed on to how Christmas is spent by own family here in Manchester.

Somewhere along the way we began having two trees one of which always has to touch the ceiling and while the advent calendars are no longer a feature the Christmas Day kick about on the Rec opposite the house still goes on.

In Well Hall the start of Christmas was never the end of term or the first set of Christmas cards but the arrival of Uncle George up from the West Country.

He would arrive a day before Christmas Eve and stay for the January sales and then like snow in the winter sunshine he was gone.

And what we looked forward to with him coming was the annual visit to the Christmas lights.

Today even the smallest village and hamlet will have its festive show but growing up in the 1950s and 60s there were only and ever would be those on Oxford Street and Regent Street.

Combined with the wonder of the bright lights was a bag of hot chestnuts still in those days sold from an old fashioned brazier with burning coals.

Later of course all five of us began Christmas Eve in a pub which for me was usually the King’s Arms and our Stella, Liz Gill and Theresa could be any one of those on the High Street and beyond.

But like all families the following day was spent with the presents and later the Christmas dinner which involved sitting around two tables put together and an assortment of chairs most of which of varying heights and degrees of safety.

When I was younger it finished with one of those long games of Monopoly followed by the telly.

Dad and mum had long ago done away with the “real” Christmas tree and instead settled on an artificial one made with what looked like long green brushes tipped with white and fastened into a wooden pole.

Its appearance was always accompanied by Dad saying that this would be the last year he would bother, but it was always there the following year.

The lights were those big pear shaped ones which sometime in the late 1950s had replaced the candles which were attached to the tree by means of a metal holder and clip.

And with them came the paper chains made form coloured gummed paper.

Looking back those Christmases may have been simpler but no less magic.

Location; Well Hall & Chorlton

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*One hundred years of one house on Well Hall Road, 

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