AM VERY SORRY TO HAVE TO ANNOUNCE that Berne Leng, ex-projectionist
at the Gaumont Cinema Manchester, and writer of many fascinating and
informative messages to this website, died on the 17th of June 2003.
I never met Berne, but exchanged e-mail messages with him many times.
We have all enjoyed his wonderful
articles on the subject of cinemas in Manchester which he kindly
contributed to this website. He has taken with him an irreplaceable
fund of knowledge about the recent history of our city. Thankfully,
a little of Berne's wit, wisdom, intelligence and love of Manchester
will live on in the photographs and messages he sent. Deepest condolences
to Berne's family from EWM and all readers of these pages.
From: Nadia Howarth-Najjar <firstname.lastname@example.org>
My dear friend Aidan .....
.....and I call you "friend" because that's how I think of you.
Through your random act of kindness to me a couple of years ago, I have
recently been re-united via the Internet with my daughter Shireen who
I lost touch with a very long time ago.
still remember when I first wrote to you, complimenting you on your EYEWITNESS
segment on Manchester Online. I'm a Collyhurst girl, born and bred, who
has now lived in Perth, Western Australia since 1970. When I first discovered
"Manchester Online" I was delighted to be able to read all the
local news from back home and especially enjoyed the Mancunian link to
your own website. I really love all those fascinating letters that ex-pats
all over the world send to you and so I decided to tell you a bit about
my own adventures and misadventures.
I mentioned something about the fact that I'd gone to live in the Middle
East years ago; had eloped with a young Jordanian man and sadly eventually
got divorced .... losing my little daughter when my ex-husband stole her
by taking her overseas to his own country and never returning her to me.
You were touched by my story and asked for more details, which I sent
you and then you were kind enough to offer to create a website for me
called "FINDING SHIREEN" and which I was then able to refer
many people to. The website contained every scrap of information that
I could possibly give you and all the photos I had and you made a wonderful
job of it, for which I have always thanked you from the bottom of my heart.
It was by sheer chance that I read an article in our own local Perth newspaper
back in January about a young Jordanian woman who had written a book about
some of the difficulties of life in modern Jordan, and it gave me cause
for deep concern for the welfare of my daughter, Shireen. I had maintained
some degree of contact with her for a number of years but she had suddenly
stopped writing to me around the time of the first Gulf War.
In spite of me writing many times to her at her Post Office Box number,
which was the only address I had for her, Shireen did not respond to any
of my numerous letters, and so the months turned to years and I cried
a river, but never gave up hoping that one day I'd hear from her again.
A mother never gives up hoping.....!
I wanted desperately to contact that young lady author to seek her help
but the newspaper could not give me a contact number, then about a week
later, I turned on the radio and the announcer was just introducing her
for an interview. My ears pricked up ..... I ran to the radio and activated
the "record" button. Luckily for me, I always keep a tape in
there in case I hear something good.
At the end of the interview she gave out an e-mail address and within
minutes I was on the computer dashing off a letter to young Norma Khouri,
telling her of my own fruitless efforts to find my daughter who I believed
may have been living in Amman. I referred her to the website that you
had created for me and which contained so much information that I thought
she might be able to use. That evening Norma rang me from Brisbane, sympathising
with my dilemma and saying that she still had many contacts in Jordan
and would try to help me by forwarding my website details to all her friends
She was about to set off on a book promotion tour of America but urged
me to have courage and keep my spirits up. I was so happy to think that
here was yet another kind stranger willing to put themselves out to help
me in my desire to find my lost daughter.
I knew that she was married by now to a religious man and the last time
I'd heard from her she had four young children. I felt that not only had
I lost my daughter, but I lost four grandchildren too. Nobody who hasn't
gone through it can know what very deep pain this kind of loss can cause
to a mother. For years, ever since she had been taken by her father as
a small girl, I had lived with a gaping hole in my heart. I went to many
English-language websites in the Middle East and left messages referring
people to look at my website and begging for any information about any
of the family. Unfortunately, I didn't seem to be reaching the right places
because nobody wrote back to me.
The following week, Norma rang me from New York, just to let me know that
her friends were searching on my behalf and she wanted me to know she
was praying and thinking of me. Norma was to be my last-ditch effort because
I was convinced that it was impossible to break through the culture barrier
...... but a miracle was about to happen....!
After only another week I nearly fainted when I opened an e-mail from
Norma saying, "We've found Shireen.......!!!!!!" Can you imagine
how reading those words made me feel? Instantly, tears spring from my
eyes (just as they are now I sit here writing to you). My heart was thumping
and immediately my hands began to shake. I thought I must be dreaming...!
I read and re-read her words over and over ........... Norma's own aunt
had started making some phone calls and by a fluke had hit the jackpot,
landing on my ex-husband's home. She was given my daughter's phone number
and rang her right away to tell her that her mother in Australia had been
searching for her for years.
Shireen herself was shocked and amazed to hear that news and immediately
gave the lady her e-mail address for me to contact her. All this information
was relayed back to me so fast, thanks to the wonderful Internet, and
within minutes of receiving it I wrote my first e-mail to my dear daughter.
I'm so pleased to tell you, Aidan, and all your readers, that I am the
happiest woman in the whole world now. Shireen and I now have a well-established
correspondence and I have learned that I have two more grandchildren born
since we lost touch. We have exchanged many photos and letters and I have
also been put back in touch with some of my ex- sisters in law with whom
I used to have close friendships when I lived in Jordan all those years
Thanks a million Aidan for all your compassion and kind actions. You've
continued to be supportive to me over the past couple of years and I really
appreciate that. You, young man, were pivotal in bringing this all about
because if you hadn't created that website for me I might not have had
the courage to press on with my search. The Internet is a marvellous technological
tool that only a few years ago I would never have imagined myself using,
but I've just experienced for myself just how fantastic it can be.
There must be someone reading this today who remembers me from the old
days and I'd love to hear from them. Up to when I was a teenager, I was
known by my middle name of BERYL HOWARTH and went to Abbott Street School
up to 1955. Then I dropped Beryl and started using my other name, so now
I'm known as NADIA HOWARTH.
My address is 14 / 42 Aristos Way, MARANGAROO 6064, Perth, Western Australia.
My home number is PERTH (08) 934 33779.
My e-mail address is email@example.com
I wish you continuing success with your business, Aidan and many years
of happiness with Ann and Adele. Please keep in touch.
ALL THE VERY BEST ......................................... NADIA
you very much for this and I'm very glad you found Shireen. The web page
I put together made the information accessible, and the author Norma Khoury
was able to refer her contacts to it. So it was thanks to an Internet
author and a book author, both with Middle East connections, that you
were able to track down your daughter. We should also thank the technology
of course, and the power it has in disseminating information and bringing
people together. I lived in the Middle East for five years. The homesickness
I experienced there, and the money I saved, led me to what I'm doing now.
It's a fascinating part of the world and very different from Manchester!
I saw Norma Khoury's book 'Forbidden Love' on sale in Books Etc at the
Trafford Centre and in the Printworks, it's one of their recommended books.
Nadia has told me about many amazing experiences in her life, I hope she
will tell the story of her journey from Manchester to Perth via the Middle
East in a book of her own some time!
Subject: Memories, photgraphs and an invitation to a 130th birthday party!
From: Norah Bohan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Aidan - Oh what a great site you've created!
lived in Longsight for most of my young life (1953 to 1970), before moving
to Fallowfield and after many years living down south, I now live near
Crewe, visiting Manchester at least twice weekly to see my family.
The picture of High Street baths brought instant recall of those early
years and the first time I went swimming with a friend from St Josephs,
primary school in Plymouth Grove, Nora Doherty, who it seemed, like us
and everyone else in Manchester was Irish descent.
I'd only seen pictures of people swimming and assumed it came as naturally
as walking, so jumped into the pool and remember going down and down and
nearly drowning - a salutary lesson for an 8 year old which has left a
lifelong preference for 'terra firma'.
A week ago I celebrated my 50th with family dinner in an Indian restaurant
in Levenshulme, competing the day before in the first Great Manchester
Run, in a city to be so proud of!.
Fitting perhaps for a 'Coronation baby', born in St Mary's, recipient
of a commemorative silver Spoon from Manchester Council because of the
timing of my birth whilst my poor Mum, who did the hard work, just got
a tin of biscuits!.
At home, we have many black and white photographs (some attached) of Mum
and Dad and friends, their marriage and of our family as we grew up in
the less than affluent Longsight.
The area was poor but the people kind, decent and honest and a real sense
of community existed - we were the pre designer label kids (unless you
count C & A and M & S!), kitted from vests and liberty bodices
out every Whit with 'your good clothes' only to be worn to church on Sunday
and for special days and holidays.
We were loved, fed, educated, went on holiday to Ireland every summer,
we ran errands, we played and home was warm and secure - what more could
there be to life ?.
Memories of taking a crocodile of brothers, sisters and other kids to
and from school and coming home to Mum's lovely dinners, a home full of
noise and chatter, with a welcome for everyone and the not infrequent
Of Dad and all the men we knew working 'on the buildings' - leaving home
in the cold and dark before we were awake and returning the same.
Trying to spot Dad on the TV news as he worked on the Piccadilly Plaza.
Now a concrete monstrosity to many but then a revolutionary, cutting edge
design and the place he was given the nickname of the 'Concrete King',
so adept was he at achieving a smooth finish and his pride is taking us
kids one Sunday morning to show us this amazing building he'd worked on!.
There are still many places in Manchester, where 'your Grandad built that'
is said as we pass.
Of Mr Feltham the greengrocer, an innovator in Home Shopping long before
Tesco thought of home delivery service, with his door to door shop like
a market stall drawn by a horse, a lovely old gentleman - I remember him
leaving a first seen pomegranate for us kids, telling us how to pick the
seeds with a needle - luxury!.
Of Hunts the Butchers on Stockport road - Auntie Marion and Uncle Harry's
shop - the poor and elderly often receiving surprise packages of meat
from a man who's heart was bigger than himself!
Of the man who came in his little 3 wheeled vehicle and sat in front of
Timothy White & Taylor's chemist on the corner of Mitre Rd and Stockport
Rd, sharpening knives and putting 'mends' on saucepans - little round
pieces of aluminium which he attached to give each pan a new lease of
Of the Shaftesbury and Kings cinemas within a three minute walk of home
and the fun of Saturday kids flix!
Of the smell of the lovely sweet shop on Stockport Rd just before St Johns
Rd and the Hardware shop a few doors away where you could find everything
(including a, rarity in those days, left handed Lancashire style potato
Of the coal man coming, black as the coal itself and putting bag after
bag of coal down the grid in front of our house - always a couple of bags
of 'slack' part of the order to 'keep the fire going'.
Of steps stoned to spotless creamy white, of dolly blue bags, of outside
loos and a tin bath in front of the fire on a Saturday night, of windows
iced up on the inside in winter and a shovel full of lighted coals being
brought upstairs and put in the grate in the bedroom fireplace on absolutely
freezing nights .
sitting upstairs on a kind of tram or trolley bus to see the Christmas
lights, of Queen Victoria's statue in Piccadilly and the immaculate Piccadilly
gardens WITH flowers, of Kendal Milne being too posh to go into! .
Of the smog and the Town Hall when it used to be black!
Of playing in the back yard, of picnics with banana butties and orange
squash in Birch or Crowcroft Parks, of trips to Belle Vue for the animals
and sometimes the circus there - of different, happy and decidedly innocent
Next Saturday, our family celebrates a joint 130th birthday in a very
different Manchester and time has moved on for us all.
Dad is 80 on June 10th, (two weeks after my 50th) and we will share this
celebration with about 140 people from the UK, Germany and Ireland - some
schoolfriends reunited through the website of the same name, some relatives
and family friends known for a lifetime, others friends for a few years
- whatever, a good time will be had by all.!
If you'd like to join us and make yourself a record of our unique event
for your collection you'd be very welcome - it's at St Johns Club, Edge
Lane, Chorlton from 7.30pm on 14.6.2003. If you'd like to, drop me an
very much for that fascinating and superbly written piece, which ought
to merit a special prize - An 'Eyewitness in Manchester ballpoint pen'
wouldn't do it justice so let's just say it's an excellent contribution,
one of the best I've received. Well, it's not often I'm invited to 130th
birthday party, so I went along to Chorlton on the 14th of June and met
Norah her dad, and hundreds of other people, and enjoyed it very much!
They are obviously a very happy family, and the accolade which Norah gave
her dad was quite touching. He's from Ireland, so when I said my parents
were from Co Limerick, I got a very firm handshake! Thanks very much Norah.
Here's a picture of Norah and dad and some copies of old photos on display
at the party.
A quick Hello and thank you!
Date: Sunday, June 22, 2003 11:31 am
From: Norah Bohan <email@example.com>
Hi Aidan - I meant to contact you earlier but last week flew by in a blur
of family visits and goodbyes as one by one (or indeed two by two) family
and friends left Manchester after the 130th birthday party.
I was delighted you were able to come to our party and hope you had an
enjoyable time and that the photos were ok.
The evening went by so quickly, I felt I hardly had time to do more than
just say hello to everyone - it seems though, a good time was had by all,
which made it all worthwhile!.
Mum's house next morning was more like the aftermath of an Irish wedding
than a birthday resembling a mix between a card shop and Father Christmas's
workshop, so many cards were opened followed by present after present
- it was simply overwhelming - people were so kind and generous!.
Coming back to emailing you, I couldn't remember which bit of the Manchesetr
Online site you were in, so did a search and found your brilliant article
about 'your' Manchester - gosh
did it bring back memories - especially the music - I wish I'd seen it
before the party, as there were some I'd happily have added to the request
used to have a reel to reel tape recorder at home (think Mum still has)
which Dad used to record his Irish music and he and Mum recorded the current
hits (many from Radio Luxembourg Sunday night Top 20).
The tapes were played so often that when I hear something from that time
like The Springfields, Island of Dreams, my mind automatically goes onto
the next song, Spanish Harlem - music is so great for recall isn't it.?
I remember on certain days a holiday only special bus service from town
to Manchester airport and being allowed to go on my own - it seemed the
most exciting place in the world back then (and is still quite exciting
And the Sunley Tower was another of those buildings about which we say
- 'your Grandad built that'!.
Also did you ever go to the Portland Lodge - on a Saturday night it cost
10 shillings/50p to get in and that included a sausage and mash supper
with onion gravy!!!. On arrival, there was a little trap door within the
main door which was slid across and you only got in if they liked the
look of you - it was the darkest place, low ceilings, funny little rooms
and the song I remember most of all 'Me and Mrs Jones'. It was always
a great night with great music.
Anyway I'm burbling on again!
Keep in touch - if you're ever out this way (the quite leafy, green Cheshire
near Crewe), you're welcome to drop in.
Lodge - wasn't that in the basement of the Portland Bars? - that's where
we went with St Josephs girls Carol, her friend Tib and others... That
reminds me of another incident from around the same time. We were all
aged seventeen but told bar staff we were eighteen. Once a group of us
went into the Ring o' Bells pub in Marple. In No1 position for the bar,
Denis (Duignan) raised his index finger to order the first pint of lager
and lime, the barman asked 'How old are you?", Denis replied 'S.........'
and we all turned round and filed out again.
Subject: Re: Hello from Aidan O'Rourke in Manchester
From: Brenda <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the he course of surfing a couple of evenings ago I found your photos
of Manchester, Urmston, Stockport, Flixton etc, and had a happy hour looking
at places which I can't recognise as we've been left U.K. since 1960 but
seeing the names and the odd place was enough to bring on an attack of
"Hiereth" (?spelling ) and I'm truly grateful for them.
Now of course, I have a request. Through the same website I got in contact
with an old lady who had been to the same school as myself albeit a few
years before.She tells me it has been demolished (Quell Domage!) and I'm
hoping you have on archive a photo of Notre Dame High School in Cheetham
Hill and would add to your others. It would give me a real kick to see
a picture of it again, even these many years on I still occasionally dream
of it - it's splendid central staircase, made I think of mahogany, and
with five floors it really had some place in the building. I'm also told
the altar from the chapel is now in a local pub.......one is prompted
to ask 'is nothing sacred?' but that's a bit obvious.
I don't have any archive photographs - My photos in Eyewitness in Manchester
are all taken in recent times - mostly since 1996 - though people assume,
because the locations remind them of old times - that I also have photos
from the 50's and 60's. I'd love to have a time machine, but the next
best thing is the Archives and Local Studies unit at Manchester Central
Library. They have a fantastic selection of old photographs, which I regularly
look at myself. They also have a website http://www.manchester.gov.uk/libraries/arls/
and the staff are very helpful! By the way, Norah Bohan went to Notre
Dame and a few of her schoolmates were at the party.
Subject: MANCHESTER CHILDHOOD
I very much enjoyed your musical journey through your manchester childhood
- well-written and wonderfully evocative.
I was born in 1961 and lived in the city from 1961 to 1980. My early years
were in Hale from 61 to 68 and then Didsbury from 68 to 76, before spending
my late teens - from 76 to 80 - in Altrincham. I was at MGS - so spent
much time in Rusholme and commuting to it from 1972 onwards. I too have
a passion for music too and could list hundreds of associations with songs
and different places in and around the city. I recalled some small fragments
in a book I wrote last year, No Ordinary Man.
However, I am very keen to find a book which shows Manchester in photographs
in the 1960's - Do you know/ can you recommend any?
Would be very grateful for your help
best Dominic Carman
I recognised the surname. Your dad is a very famous person - The book
is on sale in bookshops, looks very interesting. As for books with photos
of Manchester in the 60's, I can't think of one - The two 'Manchester
Memories' books by True North Publishing concentrate mainly on the early
to mid 20th century, though, and there are some photos from the sixties,
Maybe it's time for a definitive book focusing on Manchester during that
Subject: Levenshulme pages
From: dave <email@example.com>
Wow! Thanks for the great Levenshulme pagse on Manchester Online! I live
in Iowa, USA and have visited my gal in Levenshulme twice now and am coming
back in 2 weeks for over a month's visit. It's nice to see a bit of history
for the area - helps me get some perspective.
Tthanks again and keep up the good work!
Oh yeah, we've listened to ALL fm - good stuff.
very much - Must do a return visit to Levenshulme, as it has changed again
since I did that feature.
Eyewitness - Ardwick
From: Hana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Just wanted to say what a beautiful article. Took me totally "back"
to the times when I grew up in Chorlton-on-Medlock and at school -- Ardwick
- Nicholls High School, great times indeed.
One mention regarding the name of Ardwick - its origins. My best friend
lives in Northern Holland in a little town - 30 minutes from Amsterdam
and her hometown is called Hardevyk ...... I'd say translated into Old
English "Ardwick".... . What do you say?
Lorraine N. Cohen (nee Graham)
and Hardevyk could well be related, though I'd have to look into the origins
of both names to be sure. I see you're in Israel, have you seen my photo-feature
on Jewish Cheetham Hill?
Subject: Re: Eyewitness - Ardwick
From: Hana <email@example.com>
Hey Aidan ---
As I wasnt born jewish, when I lived in Manchester my family is Scottish
- Irish Roman Catholic origins ... I became Jewish when I was at university
in Vancouver, Canada, but I'd be happy to get a copy of the article and
send it on to my ex husband and his family (they are all from Jewish Cheetham
Hill) and I'm sure they'd enjoy it.
I very much enjoyed your article 'The Magic of Manchester' about music
of the times -- in the 60s and 70s - esp. soul (later coined Northern
Soul). I too as a teenager went to the Twisted Wheel lots of times with
my "gang" of friends .... including Barry Tasker who was my
mate and is now appearing "still" at the Twisted Wheel nites
at a club in Manchester on the old Wheel premises - (Follies, i think
its called) . Small world anyway.
Whilst living in Manchester and specifically the 60s soul music era there,
I never realised what revolution was happening ... I presumed everywhere
was like that in GB. But Manchester is unique and it took me all this
time to realise what a unique city and unique "folk" live there.
I too, today apart from working in law, am still involved in the underground
music scene in Tel Aviv Israel, in particular I really love hard tecno
and progressive house, in fact I tried to encourage one of the Mancehster
clubs to have an Israeli nite, with a couple of great Israeli djs appearing
there that I'd send, but they didn't feel it was worth their while to
invest any money unfortunately, and even though I myself was willing to
invest it would have had to be all on my part and nothing on the clubs,
so in the end I just forgot the whole idea.
I by the way am having some poetry published by Noble House GB at the
end of the summer. My poetic writing is totally involved in and with the
subject of the Middle Eastern conflict. The name of the anthology is :
Theatre of the Mind published by Noble House end summer beginning autumn
2003. My full English name which my work will appear under is Lorraine
Anyway keep on writing, luv your articles.
Lorraine Hannah Cohen
very much for your comments. I'm glad you like my Magic of Manchester
article I put a lot of work into it, and didnÕt receive much response
at first, but IÕm getting a steady flow of positive comments about it.
ŌKeep on writing, luv your articleÕ - ThatÕs what I like to hear, especially
from a published writer!