Documentary charts Huddersfield Caribbean immigrant community

THE UK experiences of people of African-Caribbean descent over four generations are charted and explored in an ambitious new film that draws on more than 80 newly-recorded interviews with individuals whose ages range from 11 to well over 80.  It focusses on the African-Caribbean descent community in Huddersfield, and the town’s University – staff and students – contributed to the project’s diverse production team, with the project archive being made available at Heritage Quay.

Now, as part of Black History Month, the 70-minute documentary, titled Windrush: The Years After – A Community Legacy on Film, is to have two showings at the University of Huddersfield where it was first screened last summer.  A public screening in association with the University of Huddersfield Archives will take place in Heritage Quay as part of the Windrush Huddersfield Exhibition on Saturday 19 October (12 noon to 3pm).  This event includes a Q&A session with key community members and opportunities to look at extensive displays.  The Department of History is also to host a screening on Thursday 24 October (2.15pm to 4.15pm), in the Joseph Priestley Lecture Hall (room JPG/18) where there will further opportunities for discussion. 

The prime mover in the project is Milton Brown, the son of invited economic migrants who came to Huddersfield from different parts of the Caribbean in the post-war years.  He is now chief executive of Kirklees Local TV (KLTV) and is also studying for a PhD at the University of Huddersfield, so involving the University was an ideal way of linking research and community interests.  A key collaborator was the film historian Dr Heather Norris Nicholson, who has been a Senior Research Fellow at the University’s Centre for Visual and Oral History.​

“We needed to put this story together for a wider audience,” said Mr Brown.  “I was doing it purely to give the African-descent community a voice, rather than another generation dying out without being able to tell the story.”

As the interviews progressed, the constant theme was one of struggle, as newcomers from the Caribbean and their families, faced economic and social pressures, including day-to-day racism, continued Mr Brown.

“They had to take jobs that nobody else wanted and it was a question of ‘how do we overcome this?’.  They retreated from the mainstream of society and started to build social and economic dependence within their own community.  There was a quiet dignity among the majority who came here and they showed an ability not to quit, even though the odds were stacked against them.”

Funding for the film included £34,500 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.  The University of Huddersfield also provided financial support.  In addition, Professor Barry Doyle, who heads the Department of English, Linguistics and History, in discussion with Milton Brown, enabled PhD researcher Joe Hopkinson and a number of undergraduate students to contribute to the project as part of their own studies and work alongside volunteers and the 14-strong production team at KLTV.

“While a lot of the people involved in it are University people, they weren’t doing it for the University, but working within the community.  And there were people from a lot of different ethnic and social backgrounds involved,” said Professor Doyle.

Mr Brown added that having such a diverse team was a major aid in understanding the historical and cultural journey that was being recorded.  “We created a community within a community and learned a lot from each other.”

The team conducted 80 new interviews and the film includes footage from 45 of them.  All of the material – plus a research copy of Windrush: The Years After – is archived at Heritage Quay.

“Making the film was only one part of the project,” said Dr Norris Nicholson.  “Running alongside it was a process of creating educational resources, gathering papers, posters and memorabilia, and then cataloguing the material and depositing it at Heritage Quay, where it is available now.”

The team agree that the findings and the testimonies from the project have a relevance to all peoples who experienced migration, wherever they settled.  “But there are also dimensions that are specific to Huddersfield,” said Dr Norris Nicholson, citing the district’s industrial history and patterns of post-war re-development.

“Some people we interviewed talked about their journeys to the UK and how they reached Huddersfield.  Others reflected on their own lives as Yorkshire-born peoples of African-Caribbean descent.  We were conducting oral history and tracing individual life stories, so a lot of details came out about experiences and attitudes during different decades.  The film tells a story of national and international significance from a local perspective.”

Story originally published at https://www.hud.ac.uk/news/2019/october/windrush-the-years-after-huddersfield/

Rare ragtime recording

Charles Hippisley-Cox writes

Although our British Dance Band Collection  is predominantly concerned with popular music between the two World Wars, we have some examples of recordings made at the point where Ragtime was about to morph into Jazz.  One of the most interesting combinations was a group of American Black musicians based  at the fashionable Ciro’s Club. Here they are in 1917

We’re hiring: Archives Assistant

We are looking to recruit an outgoing, enthusiastic and committed individual to work in the University Archives in its multi-award-winning facility Heritage Quay.

You will act as the first point of contact for customers accessing the archives in the research room or via remote enquiries, and you will assist in the day-to-day care of the heritage collections, accessioning and listing collections in Calm (collections management software).

You will have a good general education including GCSEs in English and Mathematics (or equivalent qualifications) and you will have good IT skills. You will be able to demonstrate your experience of dealing with customers in a pressurised environment and your commitment to providing a high standard of customer service. You will also be able to work effectively as part of a team and possess good interpersonal and communication skills.

Closing date Monday 8th July 2019.
For more details and to apply on line please go to https://vacancies.hud.ac.uk/tlive_webrecruitment/wrd/run/ETREC107GF.open?VACANCY_ID%3d9612904qbM%1BUSESSION=D390FBEC2E814B8DBEFA5B707325322B&WVID=47489100QU&LANG=USA

By The Tamarisk

Charles Hippisley-Cox writes about a new addition to the British Dance Band Collection

This was not a big seller and a good clean copy has only recently been added to the Heritage Quay British Dance Band Collection.   It is Eric Coates’s delightful “By The Tamarisk” played by Jack Hylton’s Orchestra.
Hylton’s Orchestra was a major stage attraction by 1926 and exploring material well beyond the normal expectations of a dance band. Coates was enjoying the success of his Three Bears Suite and Selfish Giant at the time Hylton added “By The Tamarisk” to their repertoire

Who made little boy blue?

Charles Hippisley-Cox writes:

Amongst the 12,000 “pre-vinyl” 78s in our British Dance Band Collection are examples of around 200 different record labels.   One particularly rare and sought-after brand can be seen here at the start of this video. It is the very short-lived “Gold” Edison Bell label which was only in existence for about 18 months in 1933-4.  The rest of the video features still photographs of the Joe’ Loss band.   Joe led one of the best British bands of the 1930s and he was still active as a bandleader until his death in 1990.

The beginnings of jazz

Charles Hippisley-Cox writes about his British Dance Band collection:

The first authentic jazz recordings in the UK were “waxed” exactly 100 years ago this month during April 1919.   A group of young guys has just arrived from New Orleans and had taken London by storm.   Columbia swiftly saw their potential and whisked them off to their recording studios and issuing a series of very important recordings.  We have a full set of the “Original Dixieland Jazz Band” Columbia 78s in the British Dance Band Collection held at Heritage Quay and here is a link to one of their UK recordings; Satanic Blues:

“They’re Wearing ’em Higher In Hawaii” – by the Corner House Ragtime Band (1918)

Charles Hippisley-Cox writes

Here’s another recent addition to the British Dance Band collection here in the Heritage Quay.   It represents exactly what was happening in popular music at the end of the Ragtime era before the arrival of jazz.    The band was based at Lyons’ Corner House, Coventry Street, London with an instrumentation based on a lead violin, two banjos, piano and drums.   Recorded in March 1918 and issued on the Winner record label that had adopted a rather dull colour during the austerity of WW1.  Jazz “proper” arrived exactly 100 years ago by boat with the visit of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band.   Next month we will be celebrating this by sharing their first London recording which was in April 1919″