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November 2017 update

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DIY CHRISTMAS

There just isn’t enough money in the civic pot for a decent spread of lamppost decorations this year. We’re a determined bunch in Chorlton; self-reliant and used to making a little go a long way. If we want Chorlton to look more Christmassy, we’re going to have to roll our sleeves up!

We created the nativity in the community garden, and sourced and fitted mini-trees and wall brackets for members too, so we’ve made a start.

How you can help

If you have premises on Manchester, Barlow Moor, Wilbraham or Beech Roads, work with us! You decorate your interiors, but think of your exteriors too and contribute to the look of Chorlton as a whole.

If you live, shop, eat, drink or bank here, hang some lights outside your home and ask your favourite places to make a festive effort too.

Let’s work together to brighten up Chorlton. We can provide strings of exterior lights which can link together to brighten up even the darkest night. We know money’s short – none of us have budgets for this and the Council has to prioritise its spending – but once we’ve bought our decorations, they’re ours for good.

Instead of cursing the dark, Chorlton folk, let’s light candles! For more information, get in touch as below.

CONSULTATION MATTERS

We urge all traders (members or not) and residents to take part in the consultation about Chorlton’s redevelopment, which is open until December 15th. It’s up to us all to engage in constructive debate and help the Council and developers understand just why we love living here. This is important.

KEEP IT CHORLTON

There’s always someone that’s impossible to buy for at Christmas. The answer? Chorlton Gift Vouchers. We don’t have our own local currency, or our own payment app (developed for profit by Big Tech Inc): these proudly low-tech vouchers are made by us, for our customers. There’s no hidden markups – buy £10, get £10 to spend in lots of local shops. See chorltonmap.co.uk for info.

Complete your essential Shop Local kit with the 2018 TAG! deals and discounts card (available from early December) and the So Chorlton cotton shopping bag. Every penny from the bag goes to help Chorlton’s flowers grow in the planters, community garden and verges by the precinct. The bags are only £2.99, so you don’t have to dig deep – our fabulous horticulturalists Chorlton Nursery do that for us!

AND ONE MORE THING…

Don’t spend your valuable pre- Christmas weekends in traffic, queueing to park in shopping malls. Grab a bag and walk to Chorlton’s shops. Good for you, good for the planet and good for Chorlton. Love where you live. Need we say more?

Chorlton Christmas Window Dressing Competition

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Nothing creates a lovely atmosphere on the streets of Chorlton better than festive shop windows.  Margaret Williams of Chorlton Civic Society has the story of how the competition has come to be a tradition.

During the early 1990s, my husband Frank and I, both members of the Chorlton Civic Society, were spending Christmas with our son, Alun and his French friend, Isabelle Vialat, both young artists, in Nîmes, in the South of France. Nimes has a good number of small, independent shops, so Alun and Isabelle – always on the lookout for any opportunities to earn some money using their artistic talents – managed to make arrangements with many of the local traders to decorate their windows with Christmas themes. They were allowed to paint on the windows of each shop with a unique Christmas scene incorporating reference to the merchandise on sale, and were paid by each shop owner.   I toured round all the decorated shops and thought it was a delightful idea, which made the town centre most attractive .

On my return home, I thought about what I had seen and wondered whether something similar could help our local traders to gain a little publicity and to increase their sales. It was obvious that Alun’s method would not be practical here, but knowing that many of the traders made such efforts themselves with their Christmas displays, why not a competition ?

When the idea was presented to the Civic Society at the next meeting, there was general support from the members, with many offers of help, especially from Mary Paul, Jenny Slee and Phil Robinson, if I’d be willing to organise such a competition, and I was happy to do so!  We decided to offer application forms – printed by Phil – to all the traders, delivered by a team of volunteers . To all the applicants we followed with decorated window stickers – also printed by Phil – explaining the competition and inviting potential customers to view the displays which we hoped would attract them into the shops and perhaps make a few purchases.

We informed the traders of the judging period and worked out a trio of judges, to include, whenever possible, an artist. Over the years these have included Dan King of Lancaster University Art Faculty, who was a staunch member of the Society, Anna Violet, Gwyn Jones and Peter Topping. Also helping on one occasion when the artist had to cancel was my own French daughter-in-law, Claire Lesteven, also an artist, when she made a brief stop here en route from New York to Brittany. We worked out a judging system noting Christmas themes, colour, attractiveness of displays both during daylight and dark (since many schemes made good use of lighting) and reference to and use of appropriate goods for sale.

Notable winners over the years have included Victoria of Chorlton Bookshop with her ever-imaginative themes; Maureen of the RSPCA charity shop who used only donated goods to form a wonderful window; Mathilde of Romano, who used her perfume and jewelry in most elegant displays; Pauline at Hurricane of Beech Road with Father Christmas’ large trousers descending a chimney; Karen at Discount Cards who had a working cable car crossing a lovely snow scene; and one of the stars was Andrew at Modern Army Store (now sadly no longer in business]. After winning third prize one year, Andrew was determined to improve and won second prize the following year, finally sweeping the first prize with a brilliantly conceived display including an active snowfall, penguins sitting happily among the gloves, torches and sleeping bags, and a ‘Count the robins’ competition, with life-size robins peeping out from amazing places!

Mary designed the certificates for all the winners, as well as all ‘highly commended’ and supplied frames for them.   The winners were invited to attend the next Society meeting after Christmas where they were congratulated and presented with their prizes and certificates. All other entrants were acknowledged and thanked for their participation.

More recently it was decided to ask the judges to make a tour of all the decorated shops, without actually inviting applications, and to decide on the winners in this way.   It is gratifying to know that the Chorlton Traders will now join the Civic Society to support what has become a tradition of our Christmas here in Chorlton, showing our appreciation of our independent shops.

Margaret Williams