My name is Sarah and I’ve recently started volunteering with Archives Plus. In September I start my final year as a Visual Arts student at Salford University, where my work involves combining art and research.
This summer I have been investigating the history of my new home – a flat within a large Victorian house in Didsbury. The name on the gatepost caught my eye as soon as I arrived – indeed, Massis is an unusual name for a house. I later discovered, that not only is Massis an Armenian word, but it is an alternative name for Mount Ararat (Turkey) where Noah’s Ark supposedly came to rest.
Above: Detail from the gatepost of my house (source)
Below: Mount Ararat (source)
I’m ashamed to say that prior to this I had never heard of Armenia, a small country in the Middle East that borders Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Iran. Nor was I aware that during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries a number of Armenians settled here in Manchester.
Above: Map of Armenia (source)
Using various sources, such as ancestry.co.uk and the Manchester Room at City Library, I discovered that the first family to live in my house were indeed Armenian. They moved in at some point between 1901 and 1911 and stayed for several decades.
Above: The Funduklian family and servants (source)
Like many Armenians who moved to Manchester, Karnig Funduklian (head of the family) was a businessman, and the family textile/shipping business Funduklian & Sons benefited from the then booming cotton trade within the city. Judging by the size of the house in which I now live, the business must have been successful. Karnig and his wife Aznive had three sons and a daughter, plus two servants, when they first moved in.
Above: Karnig Funduklian as a student (source)
Below: The house today (source)
I was excited to find that there were photographs of the Funduklian family in the Documentary Photographic Archive at Greater Manchester County Record Office. It was thrilling to find out more about them through these, such as the fact that one of the children graduated from Cambridge University, and that the family holidayed in Torquay.
Above: Mrs Funduklian in Torquay with a friend (source)
Right: Nazar Funduklian, Karnig’s youngest son (source)
Thanks to an oral history project conducted in the 1980s, there are some records of Armenian Mancunians in the archives, but many have since moved away from Manchester. There are few reminders left, although the Armenian Church on Upper Brook Street and the Armenia Taverna on Princess Street still exist.
Over the coming weeks I hope to find out more about this fascinating, and perhaps neglected, part of Manchester’s history.