City always been in the market for Christmas
YOU always knew it was close to Christmas when the annual decorations lit up Lewis’s department store in the 1940s and 1950s.
Anticipation was in the air – and the lights and trees on the Market Street front seemed to sparkle a little bit brighter after the dark days of the war years.
November was the month for the big switch-on and shoppers flocked to Manchester city centre to check out the store windows and displays.
Lewis’s looked splendid in November 1949. Although rationing was still in place for many items, shoppers milled round Market Street searching for a bargain or two.
The crowds were there 10 years later too, as our photo shows.
There are more cars and the pavements are busier, but everyone was still on the lookout for a special gift on the last rainy Saturday before Christmas.
The scene was very different in 1987 when hundreds more pedestrians combed Market Street for last-minute bargains. Our picture was taken on December 19, the last Saturday before Christmas.
One man who found a bargain was prime minister Ted Heath when he visited Manchester in December 1969.
He had a few moments to spare before catching the train back to London, so he bought himself a sweater for £5. The colour? Blue of course, although he did try on a brown sweater first.
The Prime Minister probably didn’t get a chance to call in at George Best and Mike Summerbee’s Edwardian boutique.
Our picture shows the two football stars and best friends hanging out the tinsel in early December 1967.
Although markets stretch back to 1066 in Manchester, the first international Christmas market took place in 1999, when stalls from Frankfurt set up in St Ann’s Square.
Now the annual event has grown to be one of the biggest Christmas markets in Europe, with more than 350 stalls fanning out from the hub in Albert Square.
Toys are always a popular Christmas purchase – and it was no different in the 1960s.
Dolls dominated the decade’s best-selling toys with Barbie, Ken and GI Joe in the top five. Number one was Chatty Cathy, who could speak no less than 11 phrases.
Hot Wheels cars made an appearance at Number Nine and the Wham-O Super Ball came in at Number Six. They were as hard as bullets, but bounced very high.
The Manchester children in our picture were quite happy with a traditional toy car. They were taking part in the 1964 Coronation Street pantomime Cinderella along with Corrie star Philip Lowrie, who played Dennis Tanner.
The pantomime spirit made its mark on Manchester City footballers in December 1971.
Swapping their players’ vests for vintage Aladdin costumes were, from left, Francis Lee, Tony Book and Mike Summerbee.
Playing the lead role of Aladdin at the front was none other than City goalkeeper Joe Corrigan.
Seasonal spirit was also alive and well in a place far removed from the busy shops and television studios of central Manchester.
Strikers on the picket line at Parkside Colliery, Newton-leWillows, decorated a tree as best they could with beer cans, streamers and the odd fairy light in December 1984.
Somehow it captured the spirit of Christmas as well as any glitzy shopfront display.
Memorable images like these – and many more like them – can be found in Clive Hardy’s brilliant new book Around Manchester in the 1970s. It’s crammed with more than 300 photos and illustrations that truly bring the decade to life. For the first time in the series, there are colour pictures too. M.E.N. readers can order it for £19.99 (free postage and packing) from the coupon on this page or from the iNostalgia website on inostalgia.co.uk. It’s also on sale in all good bookshops. Why not take advantage of iNostalgia’s Christmas offer? You can now buy all three Around Manchester books for £39.98 plus postage and packing. That’s the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s all wrapped up - three brilliant books by Clive Hardy for the price of two. Just go to the iNostalgia website inostalgia.co.uk to place your order or call 01928 503777.
Soccer stars in Aladdin costumes, from left, Francis Lee, Tony Book and Mike Summerbee with Joe Corrigan, centre
Christmas on the picket line at Parkside Colliery in 1984
Tory leader Edward Heath does some shopping in 1969