How the Manchester Caribbean Carnival was born from a small community in Moss Side
The carnival was built on a ‘longing for home’ by the Caribbean community in Moss Side
Today, the Manchester Caribbean Carnival will be making it’s long-awaited comeback after Covid-19 ground its plans to a halt last year.
It’s a truly momentous occasion and, ultimately, the perfect time to take a look back on its extensive history and to understand exactly why it’s become such a phenomenon in the city. So, let’s start with the obvious question – where and when did it all begin?
You will all be familiar with the globally renown Notting Hill Carnival, a celebration of culture and diversity that has been taking place in London’s Notting Hill every year since 1966. Well, in the mere years following the debut of this carnival, there was another one in the works a couple of miles up the road in Manchester’s infamous Moss Side.
Moss Side has been welcoming immigrants since the 1800s, but the neighbourhood saw a particularly large influx of people from the British Empire shortly following the Second World War, ultimately bringing a new wave of immigrants to the area. The neighbourhood became a hub for African-Caribbean arrivals, who would go on to be known as the Windrush generation.
Dr Charlotte Wildman, a lecturer in modern British history at the University of Manchester, told BBC Newsbeat that throughout the 1950s and 60s, Moss Side was ‘a flourishing suburb where diversity is celebrated’, noting: “You don’t see the racial tensions in Manchester that you see elsewhere… It’s a city that is built on migration.”
And what better way to prove the neighbourhoods community spirit than a massive annual celebration in the form of a carnival?
According to the University of Manchester’s Manchester History files, the Manchester Caribbean Carnival was actually started by one woman – the founding member and the chairperson of Manchester’s carnival committee, Ms. Locita Brandy. Locita had moved to Moss Side with her family in 1959, who are believed to have been the first black family on the whole street.
Inspired by ‘a longing for home’ and memories of the colourful St Kitts and Nevis carnival of her home, Locita worked with other members of the Leeward Island People Association (LIPA) to get the wheels in motion for Manchester’s first ever Caribbean carnival.
The exact date of the first official Manchester Caribbean Carnival is a little unclear, with some believing it was in 1971 and others in 1972. Some media sources even cite the starting year of the carnival as 1973 and describe it as an ‘impromptu affair.’ But Locita herself references the carnival’s start date as May Bank Holiday weekend 1972, with the description of carnival as ‘impromptu’ believed to be the press’ attempt to ignore the efforts of Moss Side’s West Indian community in the organisation of the carnival.
Locita’s records present overwhelming evidence of the hard work and dedication put into the establishment and growth of the Manchester Caribbean carnival – and the rest in history. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Locita’s carnival would happen every year, and records show her efforts to include other ethnic communities from the area in the celebrations.
The organisers of the carnival had always envisioned the event to familiarise white and black people, generate happiness and create solidarity within the community – and over the next few decades, it did just that. Every year, the carnival takes over Alexandra Park and brings a whole weekend of dancing, drinking, eating and celebration for the people of Manchester, regardless of their background or their race.
The carnival didn’t even allow Covid-19 to dampen the festivities – last year, for the first time in it’s forty-nine year history, the Manchester Caribbean Carnival went virtual. Carnival organisers honoured the legacy of carnival with a feast of entertainment including live performances, vibrant dance and steel bands displays – and today, they’re back in the flesh with a scaled down event boasting two stages, a funfair and a variety of food, drink and music stalls.
Manchester Caribbean Carnival is taking place today at Alexandra Park from 1pm – 7pm.
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.
Incredible hidden stories behind Manchester’s ‘weird and wonderful’ Empire Exchange
‘A lot of things happen in this shop that are just kind of cosmic and it’s a funny kind of place’
On the edge of Piccadilly as you turn into the Northern Quarter, there is a bizarre and strange shop that blasts vinyl records from decades long gone, with passers-by either looking and wondering or lured into its hidden cave below the Manchester pavements — it’s called Empire Exchange.
If you haven’t come across it already it’s based on Newton Street, and it’s got more weird and wonderful hidden treasures from the past than your grandparent’s attic — left as if time stood still. This secondhand collectables shop has been going for 35 years and is one of the last quirky collector’s items units left in Manchester city centre as the age of corporatism has a firm grip, slowly squeezing them out.
Its window displays are filled with mannequins wearing Thunderbirds, brass band outfits, Batman and Star Wars costumes, or ’70s Disco wigs paired with oversized sunglasses from the same era. It’s an overcrowded treasure trove, cluttered with years upon years of nostalgia, buried under long lost memories. Old scratchy records play at full pelt as they waft into the streets above and dare people to delve into its depths.
As you walk down the stairs, you take in vinyls strung along the walls decoratively and step beneath the likes of Batman, Darth Vader, and a lineup of ex-footballers looking down and watching you. Beneath the timber staircase, you can see a dragon’s head peering through the gaps as you finally enter its lair.
John Ireland, 70, owns this fascinating world that resides beneath Manchester. He lives in Whalley Range with his wife of 50 years. John was a builder when he was younger but enjoyed collecting things as a hobby, including stamps. He said: “I used to collect stamps, I was a stamp collector, but I was a builder by profession.
“I was accumulating a lot of books and stuff and I needed somewhere to move all my accumulated stock and then it all just sort of developed and we were very popular. At one time there used to be quite a lot of shops like us but they’ve all gone now. But we’re all getting on a bit.”
It was from his hobbies that Empire Exchange was born. He co-founded the shop with his friend Ian Stott who sadly passed away in 2021. John’s friend Paul also helped with the running of things, as they had a blast together throughout the years – though Paul has had to take time off for personal reasons.
John’s son Dave Ireland also helps run the family business. You might see him in the shop sometimes, when he’s not going to house clearances and loading stock in the warehouse based in Old Trafford, before it’s sent to the shop. Items come as donations from house clear outs and are passed on to new owners in small sales.
The shop has stood in its current location for around 23 years. Prior to that there were two, one located in Shudehill and one on Charles Street. About the unusual shop, Dave says: “A lot of things happen in this shop that are just kind of cosmic and it’s a funny kind of place.
“No matter where you place Empire Exchange, it seems to be on ley lines, it seems to have spiritual connotations. People love it for all different manner of reasons, and they all know it because we’ve been trading for over 40 years.”
After all those years trading in the centre, both John and Dave have some stories to tell. One that stands out relates to the late co-founder Ian who died after catching Covid during the height of the pandemic, aged 64. Katie, who used to work Saturdays at Empire Exchange, brought some of his ashes in a small urn into the shop to rest where he spent many of his years.
Dave didn’t realise Ian’s ashes were inside the pot, and when he was pricing up ornaments for display, he accidentally placed a ticket on this one too. One day, a customer came in and decided they liked the look of it and bought it – only to get home and discover what they thought was someone’s pet’s ashes in it. They brought it back to the shop, and John’s long lost pal remains on site. However, the urn now has a note stuck on, it clearly stating : ‘Ian’s ashes do not sell’.
Showing me Ian’s funeral booklet, put together by Katie and Paul, Dave said: “It just goes to show what a fantastic guy he was. Over a year on, people are shocked that we’ve lost Ian. I didn’t realise that Katie had his ashes separated and put into little wooden urns. She’d given one to the shop because that’s where he’s worked for over 30 years.
“One day when I was standing in for someone, a lady asked for trinket boxes and I gathered a few together and charged her £3 each for them. Luckily, about a week later she came back with the pot and she said ‘this has got a pet’s ashes in it’.
“And I’d realised what I’d done, I’d sold Ian’s ashes. Since then I’ve stuck a sticker on the urn and it says ‘do not sell’. I think he would have enjoyed that story as he had a good sense of humour, our Ian. He was sold in his own shop. Anyway, I won’t sell that again, hopefully.”
Dave talked about the time he had to gather old furniture from Carborundum Co grinding factory, over in Old Trafford, saying: “It was a 1950s office that hadn’t been touched for 70 years. In the ’50s they had an Art Deco revival. And we had to punch the door open to it.
“They had Deco wooden filing cabinets, candle sticks and paraffin lamps that you don’t see anymore. It’s like they just put everything down and closed the factory. When we broke into the room it was amazing, it was like a snapshot in time.
“There were signs on the wall that said ‘please do not spit’ because of the grinding dust used to hang in the air. I sold one of the enamel signs from the ’50s that said ‘please do not spit. Carborundum Co’, that was unusual.”
Another funny tale was when Dave and the gang thought they were collecting a few boiler suits from a clear out in Ancoats to sell in their shop. Dave reminisced: “It turned out one of them was an F1 race suit that used to belong to Roland Ratzenberger. It was white with a gold belt and had scribing across the middle.”
Ratzenberger was killed in a 200mph crash at the San Marino grand prix in 1994.
John fell into alcoholism in his 30s while he worked as a builder. He was in the habit of having a daily drink and found himself needing to carry a small bottle around with him. It was then he realised he was an alcoholic.
He said: “It started off with a regular drink everyday and then got to the point where I’d have to carry a small bottle of whiskey around with me in my top pocket. I used to run a site of around 30 lads. It couldn’t carry on.”
He’s been sober now for 37 years after he got help from Alcoholics Anonymous. Now he assists AA in answering the helpline to people struggling with alcohol issues, which he does on a weekly basis.
If you haven’t visited Empire Exchange yet, you need to go in and have a look as there aren’t many places like it left. There’s so many different interesting pieces of memorabilia and bric-a-brac within this cavelike place, and the staff are very friendly too.
Located at 1 Newton Street, M1 1HW, Empire Exchange is open 10am-6pm every day.