Here’s a lovely festive photo from our Ann Adeyemi archive collection. It was taken in Lewis’s in Manchester in the late 1950s. It feels like Lewis’s has been gone a long time, but it only closed in 2001, before Primark opened in the building. Wikipedia tells me that Lewis’s in Liverpool was the first department store to open a Christmas grotto, back in 1879, and many Manchester and Liverpool residents remember their annual December trip to see Father Christmas there.
There’s something not thoroughly convincing about the Father Christmas in this photo – he’s a bit slim and looks like he might have borrowed that outfit from someone a size or two bigger than him. Ann has a bit of a knowing look, I think perhaps she wasn’t convinced either.
Ann Adeyemi is living proof that Black people lived in Manchester well before the 1950s. Her grandmother was White Irish and came to Manchester at the start of the 20th Century, her grandfather was Black Liberian. Ann’s mixed race mother Mary was born in Salford in 1920 and grew up in Manchester. She married James, a Black merchant seaman from West Africa. Ann was born in Cheetham Hill in 1951 and grew up in Middleton. Ann herself has had a fascinating life, involved in education, anti-racism work and theatre. Here at the Centre we have an extensive collection of photos and memorabilia that Ann has donated, as well as oral history interviews that document her wonderful life.
Seasons greetings from us all at AIU Race Relations Resource Centre – see you in 2014!