Thursday, 14 December 2017

Letter from Manchester .......... December 2017

Now it is that time of year when most of us will be very focused on family events.

Castlefield, 2007
And amongst the maelstrom of activities from wrapping presents, and unwrapping presents, sitting down to the big meal with an eye on the Queen’s Speech and the repeat of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, those of us with BHC ancestors will find a moment when we stop and reflect on what Christmas was like for a young person born in Britain and living in Canada at the turn of the last century.

Our own great uncle had done 15 Christmases before he sailed west and most if not all of them would have been in an institution of some sort leaving only one spent on a Canadian farm and another two somewhere in France during the Great War.

What happened to him after his demob and how he spent Christmas in the years afterwards are lost to us.

In time I am confident we shall find out more, and our cousin Marisa is on the case.

St Anns Square, 2016
In the meantime I have gone off in a different direction and have been drawn in to the story of the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges which migrated young people from the 1870s but unlike the other charities stopped in 1914 and never continued the practise after the Great War.

My interest is partly that I have lived in the city for almost half a century but also because the charity has commissioned me to write their history to coincide with their 150th anniversary in 2020.

It is an exciting project, in the course of which I have been able to roam their archives, explore the wider issues of 19th century “care in the community” and revisit the different interpretations of the history of BHC.

But as Noddy Holder of Slade once shouted “Its Christmas” and with that in mind rather than offer up a festive card, I have included a few pictures of the city drawn from the last decade.

Piccadilly Railway Station, 2015
I know I should have gone back into the historical record and selected scenes that were familiar to a BHC from Manchester and Salford, but that I do all the time.

So here is a collection of ones of my adopted city from the last decade and a bit which have been chosen purely because they span the time I have been interested in BHC.

Leaving me to thank all those who run sites and organisations dedicated to promoting an interest and understanding of the story and of course to all those who beaver away at helping others find details of a relative who was migrated.

Stevenson Square, 2017
Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and may the continuing personal search we are all on prove fruitful for each of us, with the knowledge that the story of British Home Children has matured into a serious area of study, which makes for a nice present.

Pictures; Manchester, 2007-2017

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