On Tuesday 1 February the Ahmed Iqbul Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre was the setting for an Archives+ reminiscence session with Afro-Caribbean elders. We chatted for a bit and then we had a look at this set of photos of Moss Side street scenes from the 1960s and 70s. ‘Ah,’ said Mrs Brandy, ‘It’s like my life flashing before my eyes!’ The photographs of the Alexandra Road area brought back memories of shopping, socialising and the early days of the Alexandra Park Carnival.
Mrs Brandy: “You see the poster in the middle? That’s the programme – my son drew the picture for it. I still have that at home. You can see dancing troops in the window too. When you see things like that, it’s the whole family who have worked on it. In the front room.”
Mrs Brandy: “There was no motorway, you see. So we had corner shops. There were shops, too, where they’ve planted the trees now. It was like a little town. You didn’t have to go into the city for anything!”
Barrington: “I think they destroyed Princess Road. It was more political than simply refurbishment. It’s now a concrete jungle. But it wouldn’t stand – because Stretford Road and Hulme were intertwined. But it didn’t work out. Nobody would go in there for trade, you see. They created a monster. They’ve demolished it and built boxes now on Stretford Road. In my opinion it was more political than practical. If you live there, you know.”
Mrs Brandy: “All these chimneys! We thought they were factories. We didn’t know! How can you live in a house with a fire, we thought! When people come to stay from the Caribbean, they say why do you have a chimney in your house?”
Barrington: “When I came off the boat in Southampton, England was very different from what I had imagined. I thought, I’ve made a mistake! You know how you can see the back of the gardens from the railway? All I saw was chimneys and smoke. When I arrived at Victoria, I thought it looked very different from I’d imagined. I said, on the plane coming in, how can people live in houses like that? There’s nowhere to enjoy the sun! But you get accustomed to it.”
See the individual photos in the set for more comments from Barrington and Mrs Brandy. Thanks to them and to the staff at the Race Relations Resource Centre for all their help and hospitality. Another reminiscence event was held at the Windrush Centre in Moss Side, where twelve Caribbean ladies enjoyed the Moss Side set. We talked about shopping and the changes that have occurred in the area over the years. A further session is planned in the computer lab so that the ladies can learn to type in their own memories into Flickr.