Playing and Protesting: Adventure Playgrounds in 1970s-80s Manchester

By Hattie

1. Playing

As soon as I opened the ‘Adventure Play’ folder Black and white photo of five children waving from a high platform on an adventure playgroundof the Elouise Edwards photograph collection I knew I wanted to write about these pictures. Although the folder also included photos of children horse riding, ice skating, river-wading and bouncy castle-jumping, the photos of the adventure playgrounds are what had me hooked. I have so many questions!  Who built them? Where were they? Were they safe? Did that even matter?

The photos show enormous wooden and metal structures, usually near a large housing block or in large empty space, with children leaping, hanging and balancing on the various platforms, slides, planks and ropes – smiling for the camera as they go. It struck me just how different playtime was for children in the 70s than it is today – not a screen in sight (just dizzying heights and a couple of splinters instead).

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The Joy of Photographic Archives: The Elouise Edwards Photograph Collection

By Hattie

For me, photographs are such a valuable aspect of any archive. This is not only because of the stories they tell and the memories they preserve, but also because they transcend any language or literacy barriers and can be appreciated by everyone who sees them. We are lucky enough to have had thousands of photographs donated to us over the years, and they are by far my favourite collections to look through.

The Elouise Edwards Photograph Collection is our largest collection of photographs, featuring everything from sporting events and political demonstrations to photos from the Abasindi Black Women’s Collective and Roots Festivals. Most of the photographs are shot beautifully in black and white, and show members of various communities around Manchester in the 1970s and 1980s, mostly in Moss Side and Hulme. Elouise Edwards is a longstanding resident of Moss Side herself, after moving here in 1961 from Guyana where she was born. Although Elouise was at first unhappy in England, she soon found her passion in the promoting, defending and empowering of her community. If these photographs are anything to go by, she helped make a lot of people happy!

Black and white photo of two smiling children hanging upside down from a climbing frame

‘General 1’. Elouise Edwards Collection, Ref. GB3228.5

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The Manchester Connection and Anti-Apartheid Activism

 In her third guest post based on her fascinating PhD research into British student activism, Sarah Webster looks at Manchester student involvement in anti-apartheid campaigning.

Anti-apartheid activism at UoM offers an insight into how student activism has changed across the twentieth century. Tactical choices by anti-apartheid activists demonstrate that protest becomes a more acceptable method for expressing student discontent and dissent, particularly after the sixties.

Students protesting outside the University of Manchester. Source: University of Manchester archives

Students protesting outside the University of Manchester. Source: University of Manchester archives

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“Blatantly Sexist and Racist”: Student Support for Anti-Deportation Campaigns

 In the second in her a series of guest posts based on her fascinating PhD research into British student activism, Sarah Webster looks at Manchester student involvement in anti-deportation campaigns.

In October 1982, the Manchester University Students Union affiliated to Workers Against Racism, an anti-racist campaign organisation run by the Revolutionary Community Party to fight deportations during the eighties. The affiliation is formal recognition of student anti-deportation activism across the decade. Under Thatcher, immigration rules were significantly tightened. Even those with long standing ties and who had not personally committed infractions faced deportation threats. Motivated by anti-racist sentiment, Manchester students supported many anti-deportation campaigns. They were particularly active in local campaigns, supporting many Manchester based families.

Students protesting outside the University of Manchester. Source: University of Manchester archives

Students protesting outside the University of Manchester. Source: University of Manchester archives

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“No-one engaged in the pursuit of knowledge is a foreigner”: Supporting International Students in Manchester

This is the first in a series of guest posts by Sarah Webster, based on her fascinating PhD research into British student activism since 1945.

Manchester has a reputation as the home of radical politics and ideas. That history includes protest and activism by the city’s university and college students. These blog posts will outline examples of race-related activism by University of Manchester (UoM) students in the twentieth century. Their activism has encompassed opposition to racist regimes in southern Africa, anti-fascist activism and campaigns on global poverty. This first post focuses on activism and support for international students in Manchester after 1945.

Students protesting outside the University of Manchester. Source: University of Manchester archives

Students protesting outside the University of Manchester. Source: University of Manchester archives

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