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MANCHESTER EYEWITNESS
WEEK NUMBER 52 SATURDAY, DECEMBER 27TH, 1947

Last minute shoppers were spending five pounds a minute in Manchester stores at the beginning of the week. The city was crowded and shopping was slow and tedious - in many places there was a 15 minute wait to find the price of an article. Anything small and cheap sold fast, more expensive items remained on the shelves. Commentators agreed that there was less money in circulation this year than last.

Queuing began early on Tuesday for the Christmas share-out of turkey, goose, chicken and other seasonal items. Turkeys which arrived from Eire turned out to be of lower quality than expected. Grapefruits were "rationed" one to a family, and potatoes were distributed to the 3lb per head official ration. Mushrooms and brussels sprouts were on sale at tenpence to a shilling a pound, cauliflowers cost a shilling to 1s 4d. Onions were desperately scarce, and holly too was in very short supply.

Large quantities of Canadian eggs, bacon and meat are en route to Manchester, but won't arrive in time for the Christmas holiday.

A new one-way traffic plan has been announced for Piccadilly. Vehicles will be routed clockwise around Piccadilly Gardens. Parker Street bus station will be extended to embrace the blitzed area around Mosley-street and George-street.

Commuters have welcomed the changeover from trams to motor buses on the 95 route from East Didsbury to Manchester. The buses are 30% more frequent than than the trams and complete the journey in 10 minutes less time. Trams are still being used to supplement peak hour journeys, but will be finally withdrawn early in 1948.

Thieves have used a woman with a distinguished sounding voice to check if people are at home or not. If someone replies, the woman pretends to have dialled a wrong number, if they don't, the house may be burgled. Homes in Levenshulme, Chorlton and Failsworth have been ransacked by a gang in this way.

On Wednesday there were hourly increases in the numbers travelling through the city's railway stations, and extra trains were laid on. The most popular destinations were London, Blackpool, Southport, north Wales and the Lake District. Meanwhile, the big stores were almost deserted. Only lone men were seen looking for last minute presents.

On Saturday, the Dakota airliner completing the Liverpool Manchester London run had to return after hitting a flock of birds. The aircraft suffered a cracked windshield, but neither the crew nor the six passengers on board were in any danger.

And to finish, a Christmas ghost story: William Boardman, a crane driver in Trafford Park, reported hearing noises in his cabin at 3am during a night shift. It sounded, he said, as if an electrician was on top of the box, but when he looked there was no-one there. It was on that particular crane that an operator lost his life over a decade ago. Mr Boardman's account has since been distorted - according to one version, he was tapped on the shoulder by a "ghost" who asked for cigarettes.

This is the final report from Manchester in 1947. Despite rationing, shortages and austerity, the people of Manchester look forward to 1948, in the words of the Evening News editorial "with heads held high".


Text by Aidan O'Rourke

Based on reports in the Manchester Evening News

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