Since starting as a volunteer at Archives Plus I’ve been using the material at Greater Manchester County Record Office and various other sources to find out as much as I can about Manchester’s Armenian community. An Armenian family, the Funduklians, once owned my current home in Didsbury, and this is where my interest in the topic began. I’ve written more about this in my first and second posts.
Fortunately, a few Armenian families have kindly donated their photographs and other materials to the city’s Documentary Photographic Archive and the Manchester Studies Collection. Last week I listened to a recorded interview with the Shahbenderians. This week I discovered photographs relating to the Papazian and Yegwartian families, which have helped me to recognise certain patterns in my research so far.
1) The importance of the Armenian Ladies Association
Although the Armenians created dozens of groups – a young men’s group, a Manchester division of the AGBU, church committees etc, it is the Armenian Ladies Association that is recorded/mentioned the most. As the interview I listened to last week revealed, the group provided a place for Armenian ladies to meet, socialise, and discuss literature, amongst other things. Each family seemingly has/had its own ALA group photograph, such as the one below:
Photograph of the ALA donated by a descendent of the Yegwartian family (source)
I have since located records of the organisation, which I hope to retrieve within the coming weeks, in order to find out more.
2) A home in South Manchester
Many of the Armenian families I have come across so far owned successful businesses, which flourished here in Manchester during the city’s industrial heyday. My own home, a small flat within a large Victorian villa in Didsbury, was once owned by the Funduklian family, whose business was built on shipping textiles. The Papazians, on the other hand, lived in a substantial house in Whalley Range, called ‘Arax’.
The Papazian house in Whalley Range (source)
Edward Papazian and his wife Araxie (after whom the house is named) came to Manchester due to having family here, who, like the Funduklians, owned a shipping business. Marout Yegwartian, on the other hand, was a trained carpet designer.
An example of Marout Yegwartian’s work (source)
All the families that I have researched seem to have prospered in Manchester, and Didsbury, Chorlton and Whalley Range seem to be the key areas in South Manchester where Armenian residents once lived. In the coming weeks I hope to create a more detailed picture of the Manchester locations which were significant in the history of the Armenian community.
3) A close involvement with the Armenian Church
Like the ALA, the Armenian Church appears to have been one of the most important organisations for Manchester’s Armenian residents. The building in Upper Brook Street is still the city’s Armenian Church today, and a meeting place for Armenian worshippers from across the North West.
Armenian Bishop who worked in Manchester – from the Papazian collection (source)
The Rev. Haroutune Yegwartian, who also worked in Manchester (source)
4) A university education
Education was highly valued amongst the Armenians, many of whom studied at the University of Manchester, an institution that continues to welcome students from all around the world. Edward Papazian studied there, and the former owner of my own home, Karnig Funduklian, studied at the now defunct Victoria University (later absorbed by the main university). Mr Papazian evidently enjoyed the student social life, as evidenced by the image below:
Mr Papazian is on the far right, seated, with a group of university friends (source)
Now that I know a bit more about the Armenian community in general, I can now refine my research and examine each of the above areas in more detail. Stand by for more Armenian-themed posts in the coming weeks!
Also check out the Archives Plus Flickr account for more Armenian photographs.