Haunting images show harsh reality of life during World War II for the people of Manchester
A fascinating look at Manchester’s history…
It would be hard to imagine a book that resonates more with today’s uncertain times than Clive Hardy’s latest nostalgia offering – The Home Front – Britain 1939-45.
The unshakeable spirit of a kingdom facing unparalleled challenge shines through Hardy’s highly readable commentary coupled with inspirational images from Britain’s local and national newspaper archives, including the M.E.N.
The result is a hardback that encapsulates the hope rising from the ashes of blitzed cities, the engaging innocence and cheerfulness of child evacuees and the gritty determination of hard-pressed servicemen and women.
We see Dad’s Army volunteers ready to tackle crack Nazi paratroopers with broom-handles and Zulu spears from a long forgotten conflict, women working all hours to make munitions, and Land Girls keeping the wheels of agriculture turning.
There is no shortage of photographs from Manchester and the North West either in what is the ninth publication from Withington company iNostalgia Ltd.
The Christmas Blitz of December 1940 is covered in detail, along with the industrial output of Trafford that produced the hardware to fight the war.
Images include the manufacture of Rolls Royce Merlin engines for Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancaster bombers at the Ford shadow factory in Eccles and barrage balloons being assembled at Gaythorn Gasworks.
There are scenes of jubilation as crowds celebrate VE Day in the centre of Manchester and street parties break out in the suburbs.
And there’s Belle Vue too. Manchester’s pleasure park never closed throughout the war as thousands sought to forget their woes for a few hours or more after entering the main gates on Hyde Road.
In The Home Front, Hardy takes us from the first stirrings of conflict right through to victory in Japan in August 1945. There is a wonderful mix of family memories and stories as well as the usual informed analysis from a seasoned researcher and writer.
Hardy actually started working on The Home Front well before Coronavirus first visited our shores. “I always wanted to gather together the extraordinary images from our newspapers during the war years”, he said. “Particularly our local newspapers.
“I’m full of admiration for the work of the Home Front photographers who portrayed the struggle and kept the nation informed – often at risk to their own lives”.
One photographer whose work is strongly profiled in the book is Daily Mirror cameraman George Greenwell, who took what are now regarded as iconic shots of St Paul’s Cathedral at the height of the London Blitz in December 1940.
“His images are breathtaking”, said Clive. “There’s one panorama from the dome of St Paul’s showing the statues of apostles silhouetted against the raging fires below. It was used right across pages 6 and 7 of the Daily Mirror on New Year’s Eve 1940”.
But it’s perhaps the images of everyday life that are the most stirring in Hardy’s book. Images like workers balancing precariously on the end of a tram track in the hope of prising a damaged rail from a bombed-out road to salvage it for the war effort.
Or the heart-warming picture of US troops stationed in England spending their own time and money taking children on a cinema trip in December 1943.
There are some fascinating chapters on entertainment and sport, not always covered in wartime memoires. Football was played, albeit on a limited basis, for most of the conflict.
There are jubilant images of Preston North End winning the 1941 Football League War Cup by beating Arsenal 2-1 in a replay at Blackburn’s Ewood Park, and Charlton Athletic playing Reading at The Valley.
Boxing matches were staged on the deck of the Queen Mary moored in Liverpool in October 1941 and the annual Derby horse race transferred from Epsom to Newmarket.
Greyhound racing was hugely popular as it was accessible to everyone. Home-raised dogs could compete with the best on tracks throughout the country.
Hardy includes all the wartime entertainment icons – Wigan’s own George Formby, Flanagan and Allen, Tommy Handley and Vera Lynn to name but a few – as well as providing insight into the BBC Home Service and less familiar shows that toured local theatres.
He also takes an intriguing look at wartime censorship as well as morale-boosting photos that were really not what they seemed – possibly the ‘fake news’ of their day!
In an interesting piece of detective work, Hardy shows how a George Greenwell image of air raid warden Percy Dale helping a Blitz victim in 1940 was in fact a staged shot superimposed on a photo of London’s Paternoster Row in flames.
It was like the famous picture of a London milkman making his way through the rubble to deliver milk, again in 1940. The milkman was actually the photographer’s assistant.
Whatever their genesis, the images did their job.
So too will this book. It could just be the ideal gift for this most unusual of Christmases.
‘The Home Front – Britain 1939-45’ is now on the sale with a special pre-order price of £14.99 – including UK postage and packing. You can get it online from iNostalgia here, or call the order hotline on 01928 503777.
The Manchester hiking communities helping people overcome anxiety and depression
‘When you’re in the mountains, everything else just seems so insignificant’
If there’s anything good we can take away from the pandemic, it’s a fresh appreciation for nature and the great outdoors, and a reignited love of walking for pleasure.
When the global Covid-19 pandemic caused the nation to press the emergency stop button on the fast-paced and relentless treadmill of work and life, it brought many back to the simple joys of getting out for a walk — and all the benefits that come along with it. Out of lockdown, a number of hiking groups were born — seeing the trend grow in popularity among younger people too.
A lot of these communities formed online on platforms such as Instagram, where people have been scrolling in search of ‘their people’ and ‘tribe’ as they reached out to make human connections and share a commonality with one another. It just goes to show, no matter how much alone time we sometimes desire or need to recharge our batteries, humans really are a social species.
Maybe we just need to know there’s others out there, going through similar experiences to us, and that even though we enter this world alone and leave it much the same way, we are all journeying through our individual paths of life alongside one another. Rather than dwelling on everyday stresses, hiking in nature allows us to stay present, focus on the task ahead, and ignites the senses.
Chris Jervis was assaulted one night while out in Liverpool in 2021. The ordeal caused him to suffer with severe anxiety, and even left him feeling suicidal. He’s currently signed off work due to the effects on his mental health and is with a working health coach. After speaking to doctors, he decided to get outdoors and start up a group hiking community.
“I got assaulted in Liverpool city centre and I started suffering with anxiety attacks around people,” he said. “The trauma gave me anxiety and depression. I ended up feeling suicidal from it as well. So, when I ended up speaking with a doctor, they were telling me about putting myself in situations I can come in and out of. So I started looking into group hikes.
“I started putting it out there for people to come on a group walk with me and then building up a little community that way. At first there were five or six people but then I would end up getting 40 people out on walks. Depending on how I felt on the day, I could dip in and out of the walk because I was in an open space.”
Chris spoke of some of the effects the traumatic experience had on him when he found himself in crowded places, saying: “Normally, if I would go into a shopping centre, I’d faint. I used to black out a lot because of the anxiety.” About the benefits of group walks for his mental wellbeing, he added: “I won’t walk on my own because I don’t like being in my head.
“The groups offer support. Everyone’s there for a reason. You’re in a safe space, you’ve got people around you, and if you want to talk, then they’re there. I find it easier opening up to some random stranger on a walk who I might not see again. It’s hard opening up to your friends or family sometimes.”
Chris says he now wants to ‘look into the mental health side of things’ and incorporate it into his walks. He was in care when he was younger and now wants to help get children — who’ve had bad experiences and suffered from trauma in their lives — into hiking outdoors, as he said: “I want to show them that there’s something better out there.”
Hannah Probyn, 30, lives in Manchester and found the lockdowns had a negative effect on her mental wellbeing due to working from home, being cooped up and not being able to ‘switch off’ from it all. She found Chris while searching online and decided to join him on his group walks. She said: “I’ve been hiking since I was little. My dad used to live in the Lake District, so my step mum used to take me and my brother out hiking, and I loved it, and enjoyed being outdoors.
“Then, during the pandemic, I started joining different groups on Instagram. A lot of them were putting up that they were doing group walks so I thought, ‘I’ll do that and go and join them’ — and it’s been great. I’ve met so many people. I can’t even begin to tell you how many groups I’m in now, it’s a bit ridiculous.
“My first massive group hike was with Chris and we did Striding Edge up to Hellvelyn. He was doing it for charity ticking off the Wainwrights, and on that walk I decided I’ll tick them off too. So, I met him through that and now we’ve stayed friends. I’ve hiked with him pretty much every weekend.”
The Wainwrights are a huge number of hills and fells around the Lake District that hikers like to ‘tick off’ their list. Alfred Wainwright — a British author and fellwalker — picked 214 hills that he thought had the nicest views and now it’s become a goal for hikers to complete.
Hannah enjoys joining different groups for walks but her biggest achievement is her solo walks, as she said: “I’m in some girls only groups and I’ve been hiking with them. I’ve also done quite a lot solo as well — which is sort of a big push for me.
“I’ve been to The Lakes, Wales, The Peak District — my mum hates it. My mum has images of me going missing on a mountain. A lot of them I’ve done in The Lakes more recently on my own. I think that sort of came from a place of not wanting to be alone with my own thoughts because I don’t always do very well with that.
“But then I was like, ‘right, push yourself out of your comfort zone, do it’ and honestly, it’s mad how — when you’re in the mountains — everything else just seems so insignificant. If I’m at home on my own I feel like I should be doing something, or there’s something going on in my head. Whereas when I’m out on my own, I’m not really thinking about anything.”
When on a long solo trek, Hannah sometimes sleeps over in her car and carries on with the walk the following morning. “I just love it, people think I’m mad. I work in social media and my job is kind of a 24-hour job. In theory, 5 o’clock comes and you should just be able to switch off. But if you’re out, you can’t get any signal half the time so you’re not messing with your phone. And people know that they can’t contact me.
“I use my social media now as my diary, it’s my online photo album. I post things in chronological order for my own benefit. It’s so I can go back and look at it and I can see from say five years ago to now, I can see personal growth in it. I love that for myself. It makes me feel proud of myself.”
Michael Di Paola set up Fresh Walks, a networking while hiking community, a number of years ago. His experience pre-dates the pandemic but he says it was a much needed business rationale for the fast-paced lifestyle led by most office workers in this technological age.
He said: “If you rewind to eight or nine years ago, to say to people can you take a day out of work? Meet me at the train station in the morning, have a bit of breakfast, get on a train and head to the hills for the day — and justify that to yourself commercially — it needs a business rationale.
“The pandemic has changed things. People seem to have more flexible working now. With the lockdowns and people being cooped up, I think people started to tune in to the benefits of accessing nature, getting outdoors and just enjoying the freedom of it.
“For me, nothing has changed, I just think the pandemic has accelerated some of this work-life balance. Businesses were already tuning into the wellbeing of their people — this was already happening — but I think the last two or three years has almost put some fuel behind that and I think people are very much tuned into their own wellbeing now.”
“I think it really pays to disconnect and try and counter balance this feeling that we’ve all got. When I used to work in an office job 20 years ago, I’d finish at five o’clock and that was it. I’d be done for the day. But most people in office jobs these days are constantly contactable.
“More and more people are now working from home, so they don’t see other adults throughout the week maybe, so they crave this human contact, because we need that. I think a shared sense of achievement can also be taken from walking in groups and we can underestimate how positive that can be for our minds.
“There’s very few things in life now that force us to slow down, but hiking does.”
If you’re an urbanite finding yourself feeling irritable, unable to switch off and on an express train to burnout, why not get yourself out for a hike?
Escape the suffocating feeling of city life and head to the hills. There, you can feel the warm sun on your skin, the fresh breeze on your face, put things into perspective and ultimately feed your soul.
The Manchester man who’s been rescuing animals from the frontline in Ukraine
‘The drive was just really silent. Some were complete strangers just comforting each other in the back of my van’
A man from Greater Manchester is making a second journey to the war-torn country of Ukraine after deciding to help fleeing refugees and save animals, last year.
Stuart Adamson, from Stockport, watched in horror as Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 and many peoples’ lives were turned upside down overnight. Being the hands-on person that he is, he decided he had to help in some way.
Stuart started a fundraiser to get some cash together to take to the frontline and help victims of war. Once he had enough funds, he left his job, packed up his eight-seater van and made the long journey to the Ukraine border, all alone.
He helped with the evacuation of refugees for a month, assisting many families with children. From there, he ventured into Vinnytsia, central Ukraine and later joined a charity called Breaking the Chains, where he rescued animals from the front lines including lions, bears, wolves, farm animals, foxes, dogs, cats, and many more.
After six months in the country the money had run out and Stuart returned to the UK, where he took up work as a bartender in Manchester, ever more determined to get the money together and get back out to Ukraine.
He now plans to travel there on April 7th in his van and has set-up another fundraiser for those who wish to donate. He said: “I was just watching the videos and watching it unfold and thinking, ‘I’ve got to do something, I can’t just sit here’.
“So, I loaded up my van, dropped some supplies off at Poland and headed to the border.” When asked what it was like when he first got there, Stuart said: “It was…I think surreal is the best way to describe it.
“You can watch as many videos and read as many articles as you like but nothing prepares you for going into a warzone.”
He continued: “I remember 20 minutes in, as I was driving in, I put the radio on and after five minutes of listening to music, the emergency response system came on. There was an air raid siren and Ukrainian warnings.”
These went on for around 45 minutes and when Stuart tried to switch the radio off, he was unable to do so.
“There was tension and nerves, but I just kept thinking, ‘someone’s gotta do this’,” he added. Stuart said while evacuating refugees, it ‘got a little emotional at times’ and they were relieved to be picked up and taken out of danger.
“I just started picking people up from the border and saying, ‘where are you going? I’ll take you’. I was just loading families up at the time and getting them to where they needed to be. It was noticeable that there were just women and children because all the men can’t leave the country at the moment — except for in exceptional circumstances.
“The drive was just really silent. Some were complete strangers just comforting each other in the back of my van.”
Stuart had to break up his trip after falling ill, but was determined to get straight back to it after he recovered. “Eventually I got Covid so I ended up coming back. But about a week later, I went straight back out again with new supplies and went into Ukraine this time,” he said.
“I ended up with a charity called Breaking The Chains and doing animal rescue.”
Animal charity Breaking the Chains International specialises in extracting animals of all types and sizes to safety from dangerous and arduous conditions around the world.
Stuart went on: “So, we went to the front lines and, I mean, we got everything. I’m talking…dogs, cats, a lion extraction from a zoo. We got bears, wolves, hawks, ravens, farm animals — anything you can think of, we got.
“We went to the front lines and got within about 600 metres of the Russian checkpoints. I’m not gonna lie, it got a bit hairy at times with missiles dropping and tanks everywhere.”
Stuart now plans to go back to Ukraine for a second time.
In a time of national crisis, Ukrainian vets are being used to administer First Aid treatments for those on the front lines. Stuart said: “Now I’m going back with a different organisation called Worldwide Vets and the focus here is going to be on veterinary care, in-country, as opposed to animal rescue.
“So, there’s a lot of towns and villages with left behind pets, strays that have not been spayed or neutered. We will be going to the front lines but not as close as we were, to get to all these cut off villages to try and maintain the animal population before it gets out of control and becomes another problem further down the line.
“I’ll also be going out with another organisation called Paws For Peace and we’ll be dropping supplies off to the Korsun region — that’s a little more dangerous. We’re gonna be picking up three dogs from there and getting them out.”
You can donate to help Stuart HERE.
Seven-year-old Man United fan walking 40 miles to Old Trafford to raise money for Alder Hey
Good luck, Harvey!
A seven-year-old schoolboy will do a 40 mile walk from Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to Old Trafford football stadium in a fundraiser held close to his heart — and he will be joined by a Manchester United legend.
Harvey Goodman will be taking on the mammoth trek next month to raise much needed funds to donate to the children’s hospital, in Liverpool. He decided he wanted to take on the task after he learned of his seven-year-old cousin Zak’s cancer diagnosis — for which he is receiving intense chemotherapy.
The news came out of the blue for Harvey and really upset him. Only six months prior he had lost an uncle to the awful disease. Harvey saw the excellent care his cousin received while being looked after by doctors and nursing staff, and was especially impressed to find out that the ward Zak was on had a chef on hand and unlimited use of an XBox.
He saw the good work the staff at Alder Hey do and how well they look after the patients in their care, and decided he wanted to do something to help. Just last year the determined school boy walked 15 miles from Stockton Heath to Old Trafford to raise cash to give his school playground a much-needed renovation for pupils to benefit from.
This time he decided he wanted to do another walk to help raise funds to donate to the hospital. He will be splitting the walk over the weekend of April 1st and 2nd. Joining the young United fan will be his mum, dad and even his little sister Olivia.
His class teacher and headteacher Dan Harding will also join the cause, as will Manchester United legend Sam McIlroy. Around 200 people are expected to be marching the distance to make a difference alongside Harvey.
Naiomi Goodman, Harvey’s mum, said: “I’m so proud of Harvey and what he is doing for Zak and Alder Hey. He told me he wanted to do a big walk to help his cousin and other sick children at Alder Hey, which made me burst with pride. He is so kind hearted and always wants to put others first.
“I never imagined we would be here again, one year on from his first fundraising walk about to undertake a 40 mile walk!” Harvey has set-up a Just Giving page with the help of his family. It has already smashed the target of £10k and, at time of writing, has raised over £13,000.
He is preparing for the marathon walk by getting out for walks at any chance he can with his family. Harvey is also very active and likes to play football, swim and go to kick-boxing classes in his spare time.
Mrs Goodman continued: “He’s so excited for the challenge, he’s checking the amount raised on his JustGiving page most days and reads through the messages of support and encouragement people have sent. The kind words really help Harvey on his long walks — it gives him that extra boost to carry on!”
Dan Harding, Harvey’s headteacher, said: “Harvey is a very special boy indeed. Harvey is also a great friend to his peers, an incredibly selfless, kind and caring person who always wants to do good for others.
“Last year Harvey raised in excess of £8,000 for school by walking from Stockton Heath to Old Trafford football stadium. His fundraising contributed hugely towards our playground development project and we are eternally grateful to him for this.
“This year, Harvey has been motivated by a different cause and is determined to go bigger and better with his fundraising. Harvey’s cousin Zak is receiving intensive cancer treatment and support from Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and when Harvey learned that Alder Hey also happens to be one of our chosen partner charities, he decided this was the perfect cause to raise funds for.
“I cannot stress enough what a wonderful child Harvey is. He is a model pupil in school with exemplary behaviour and attitude to learning but it is his thoughtfulness for others that truly sets him apart – what a star!”
Pascale Harvie, President and General Manager of Just Giving said: “Harvey is an inspiration to us all. At just seven years old he’s taking action to raise vital funds to help his cousin and so many other poorly children being treated at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
“I want to say thank you to Harvey for coming up with and taking on this challenge and wish him the best of luck on his mammoth walk.”
If you would like to donate to Harvey’s Just Giving page and support his cause, click here.