Nostalgic decorations mark Sheffield’s Christmas past

Family favourite: Josie Fairchild, with the 90-year-old decoration.
Family favourite: Josie Fairchild, with the 90-year-old decoration.

CHRISTMAS Christmas decorations are more than just trinkets. The Star appealed to readers to let us know about the baubles they dust off every year. Here three women share the stories behind theirs.

BATTERED and bruised, this little figure with a flat cap might be seen as junk to anybody else.

Long serving: Barbara Williams, from Ecclesfield, with her 76-year-old sailor-boy tree decoration.

Long serving: Barbara Williams, from Ecclesfield, with her 76-year-old sailor-boy tree decoration.

But to Josie Fairchild, aged 64, he is a precious link to the past. The figure belonged to her dad William Watson – who died young in 1954 when she was just six – and is believed to be around 90 years old.

Josie, of Pitchford Lane, Sandygate, Sheffield, said: “I look at this little figure and think of my dad because I do still remember him – so that’s my link to the past.

“I love him to bits and wouldn’t part with him.

“He’s really battered and bruised but I know my dad had him on the Christmas tree when he was a little boy, he would have been 89 now, and possibly his parents before that. It’s been passed down the family, I think he was a reminder for my parents of a dance hall act called Jackie Coogan.

Historic collection: May Gibson has a selection of baubles dating back to 1924. Picture Sarah Washbourn.

Historic collection: May Gibson has a selection of baubles dating back to 1924. Picture Sarah Washbourn.

“We’ve always called him little Jackie Coogan.”

The blue and red boy has seen plenty of Christmases past and has spent the past few months carefully stored away in an unusual place.

“To save him from getting damaged any more we wrapped him in the tissue and put him up the fairy’s skirt in storage.”

“My husband Graham says he’s one lucky lad because he’s been up the fairy’s skirt all year.

FOR eight decades these baubles have seen every one of May Gibson’s family Christmases. The 80-year-old can remember them hanging on her family tree as a child and believes they date back to 1924, the year her mum married.

May, of Constable Road in Gleadless Valley, said: “I wouldn’t part with them for anything.

“They don’t always go on the front of the Christmas tree but they are always there each year. They are lovely.

“My mum was married in 1924, she had my sister in 1929 so they were bought somewhere in between I think. I’ve known them all my life.”

THEY don’t make decorations now like they used to.

Barbara Williams knows that more than most – as pride of place on her tree each year is a celluloid sailor doll and other trinkets she bought for threepence halfpenny.

The toy, held together with intricate pieces of wire, was given to her husband Barry, now 76, when he was born.

It was handed down to the Ecclesfield couple from Barry’s uncle.

And the decorations from 55 years ago, when they married, still have the original packaging and price tag.

Barbara said: “You couldn’t buy anything for threepence halfpenny now. I bought them from Andrew’s Art Shop which used to be behind the Town Hall in Sheffield. The sailor is made of celluloid which isn’t used very much now either – I don’t think people know what it is.”