Friday, 11 May 2018

It’s what you do with the stuff ....... in praise of one collector

Most of us have a tendency to collect things, whether it is knitted tea cosies, expensive porcelain, or train numbers.

The collected items will sit somewhere in the house to be brought out occasionally or rest in a cupboard for Aunt Edna to gaze on during her annual visit from Fritton.

But not David Harrop who has an extensive hoard of memorabilia from both world wars along with an equally fascinating set of objects illustrating the history of the Post Office.

Added to which he is, as you would expect very knowledgeable on the lot.

Not that this is the only thing that marks him out from your usual collector of knotted tea cosies and train numbers, for David believes that his memorabilia should be on display to the public.

For years with the active co-operation and support of Manchester City Council and the staff at Southern Cemetery he has maintained a permanent exhibition of some of his collections in the Remembrance Lodge at the cemetery.

What makes this exhibition unique is that many of the items have a connection with men and women who are buried or honoured in Southern.

And now David is planning the big one at Central Ref to coincide with the end of the Great War.

In Flander’s Fields, will take up nine big display cabinets and run from September through till December.

Now that may seem a long way off, but not so, given the huge amount of material David is planning to put on show, and because of the meticulous research he undertakes to provide a history and a context to the pieces on display.

So while not everyone has such a collection or the desire to share it in this way, I am very glad that David does.

He tells me that “this will be my 30th year of exhibiting, and that over the years I have displayed at Earls Court, the NEC, Manchester Cathedral, Walsall Town Hall, Dorset steam fair, and Southern Cemetery”, and plenty of other places.

But as impressive as that roll of honour is, what marks his contribution out, is that it is meant to be seen and contribute to people’s knowledge of those conflicts.

And to that end, he was most helpful in providing material for my book on Manchester Remembering 1914-18 which told the stories of the men, women and children who lived through the Great War, both here and in neighbouring Salford and beyond.**

As I often tell David the bulk of the memorabilia in the book comes from his collection and I doubt the book would have been written without his assistance.

All of which just leaves me to say that I will be regularly reporting on his progress from now till the exhibition opens.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; from the collection of David Harrop, and book cover from Andrew Simpson

*In Flanders Fields, Central Ref, September to December 1918

**A new book on Manchester and the Great War,

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