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Making History
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Listen to the latest editionTuesday 3.00-3.30 p.m
Vanessa Collingridge and the team answer listener’s historical queries and celebrate the way in which we all ‘make’ history.
Programme 7
13 May 2008
Vanessa Collingridge and the team discuss listeners' historical queries and celebrate the many ways in which we all 'make' history.

Listen to this programme in full

Harbin China

A listener’s grandmother was kidnapped and then shot in the city of Harbin in North East China in 1932, what was going on there at the time and why would a British citizen have been targeted?

Vanessa Collingridge spoke with Dr Rana Mitter at the University of Oxford who explained that this area if China was caught up in the competing aspirations of Imperial Japan, newly nationalistic China and Soviet Russia.

In 1931 the Sino Japanese War broke out which was to last until 1945. Japanese troops invaded Harbin and then claimed that their had been an uprising. Harbin had been an important, multi-cultural city linked to the west by the Trans Siberian railway and this accounts for the many thousands of foreign citizens who were resident there. Tragically, many of these were either expelled or killed as the Japanese sought to prevent outside interests from becoming involved.

Useful links

comprehensive study of the Sino-Japanese War is underway at Harvard University

The fate of Lutheran refuges living in Harbin has been researched by the Federation of Eastern European Family History Societies in the United States 

Information about the Jewish community in Harbin 

Further reading:

The Making of Japanese Manchuria, 1904-1932.
Matsusaka, Yoshihisa Tak, Harvard University Asia Center (2003). ISBN: 0674012062

Northeast China and the Origins of the Anti-Japanese United Front. Modern China,
Vol. 20, No. 3 (Jul., 1994), pp. 282-314
Coogan, Anthony, Sage Publications (1994)


The China-Japan War, 1931-1945
Gordon, David M, The Journal of Military History - Volume 70, Number 1, January 2006, pp. 137-182
The Dockside Dandies of Lowestoft

Dockside Dandies of Lowestoft
London-based artist Peter Wylie is from Lowestoft in Suffolk and he recently came across photographs like the one above which recorded a style of dress that appears to be unique to the fishermen of his home town in the early 1960’s. Making History heard from some of the surviving fishermen who wore these flamboyant suits who explained that they could earn up to £30 a week (that’s almost £500 in today’s money) and could therefore afford to spend up to £25 on them.

Chris Breward, Head of Research at the V&A in London, was surprised by the photographs and, although they reminded him of similar styles seen in London at around the same time, could see no direct link between the Lowestoft fashion and others of the time.

Are the so-called Dockside Dandies of Lowestoft unique, or can you remember similar styles where you lived in the late fifties and early sixties? Peter Wylie and the Making History team would like to hear from you.
Geoffrey Wilson

Useful link

Peter Wylie's website

The Travelling Cinema at Lochwinnoch


The Manders Family travelling cinema
Caption: The Manders Family travelling cinema. Date unknown.

A Making History listener researching this history of the former cinema in Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire, asks whether its history is similar to that of the hundreds of local cinemas that have now almost gone?


The wonderful foreign film, “ Cinema Paradiso “, had a special resonance for Lochenyochians. A theme of the film was the importance of the local cinema in the lives of residents of an Italian village. It was a very similar story in Lochwinnoch for generations of locals.

On Calder Street, in the ground now occupied by Coopers Yard, our very own
“ Cinema Paradiso “ once stood. It was owned and managed by the Manders family and officially called the “ PALACE “. To every one in the village, though, it was affectionately known as “ Johnny’s “.

The story of how the village cinema came into existence goes much further back. The Manders, who brought “ Hollywood to Lochwinnoch “, were a branch of a travelling circus family whose story is told in “ The Illustrated & Descriptive History of Manders Menageries & Shows “ published under the auspices of the Fairground Society. By the 1830’s James Manders had built up three businesses, the “ Royal Menagerie “, the “ Grand Star Menagerie “, and the “ Royal Waxworks “ all of which toured the UK. A popular exhibit of the latter was a tableau of the Last Supper which was contained in its own box-van. In 1899, moving pictures were added to the waxworks exhibition ; the first showing was at the Newcastle Christmas Fair. The show was then renamed “ Manders Royal Waxworks & Edison’s Electric Animated Pictures “. And the man who introduced this exciting innovation was John Manders; the “ Johnny “ after whom the Palace Cinema would later become affectionately known.

Johnny brought the show to Lochwinnoch after the end of the First World War. The tent, photographed below, was set up in the area now occupied by the War Memorial in Harvey Square and a era of cinematic entertainment for the village began. Johnny, his wife Polly and their sons, Johnny, Jimmy, Tommy and Billy decided to make roots here and end their involvement in the travelling tradition. They built the Palace Cinema on the site in Calder Street in the early 1920’s. The Scottish Screen Archive held in the National Library of Scotland records this as 1923 but Fulton Barclay, employed as a projectionist in the early days and today living in Dalry, suggests that it may well have been earlier than that.

In the era of “ silent movies “ an accomplished pianist was needed to play the film score. The Manders found a musician with the necessary talent here in the village. Mabel Lunney, a Cockney lady married to a local man, was employed to provide the musical accompaniment.

The photograph below shows the original building on Calder Street. The projection room was accessed from within the foyer but stricter fire safety rules resulted in an external staircase access being built. This was the only major change to the cinema.

The Palace Cinema, Calder Street, Lochwinnoch

Sadly the “ Palace “ closed in 1970 and the last film shown was Circus of Horrors.
The site was sold to the local Coal Merchants, George Patterson & Sons and then demolished to make way for the Cooper’s Yard housing development.

Making History consulted Professor Vanessa Toulmin at the National Fairground Archive at the University of Sheffield, a leading authority on travelling cinema.


    Contact  Making History
    Use this link to email Vanessa Collingridge and the team: email Making History

    Write to: Making History
    BBC Radio 4
    PO Box 3096
    Brighton
    BN1 1TU

    Telephone: 08700 100 400

    Making History is produced by Nick Patrick and is a Pier Production.
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    Making History

    Vanessa Collingridge
    Vanessa CollingridgeVanessa has presented science and current affairs programmes for BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Discovery and has presented for BBC Radio 4 & Five Live and a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and the Mail on Sunday, Scotsman and Sunday Herald. 

    Contact Making History

    Send your comments and questions for future programmes to:
    Making History
    BBC Radio 4
    PO Box 3096 Brighton
    BN1 1PL

    Or email the programme

    Or telephone the Audience Line 08700 100 400

    Making History is a Pier Production for BBC Radio 4 and is produced by Nick Patrick.

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