15-year-old girl committed suicide in 1971 after dancing on Top of the Pops and spending the night with a “well-known disc jockey”

I came across this story by accident as I was researching other subjects in back issues of The Guardian.

In April 1971, 15-year-old Claire Ufland was found dead on her bedroom floor with empty pill bottles nearby.

She had danced on Top of the Pops four times. But her mother had banned her from doing so again after she read the daughter’s diary and discovered she had spent the night with a “well known disc jockey.”

From The Guardian in 1971

The DJ isn’t named and it seems Claire Ufland lived in Watford. But there’s a Leeds connection…

She had recently appeared on two editions of Junior Showtime, made by Yorkshire Television in Leeds, and the company was editing the tapes to remove her following her tragic death.

Update (October 7, 2012)

My latest post on this story following the recent ITV documentary.


Robert Rose’s grave and headstone have been found

Last November I wrote about Robert Rose who was known as the “Bard of Colour” in 1840’s Manchester.

I’ve had some great news. A group of people are documenting the headstones at the Manchester General Cemetery at Harpurhey. You can visit their website here.

Following my research into Robert Rose, in March I wrote to the group to see if they could tell me whereabouts in the Cemetery I could find his grave and hopefully his headstone.

Unfortunately the news wasn’t good: there didn’t seem to be a headstone for that grave number and it looked as if there was just rubble under the surface soil. It seemed the headstone might have been vandalised over the years and ended up amongst piles of broken stones or even as part of a wall around the grounds.

However the Project added some details about Robert Rose to the list of notable burials on its website.

However, this week they contacted me to say the grave and headstone had been found and I have been lucky enough to see the stone. It seems it was one that lay flat all along and was hidden a bit more deeply than they thought. Here’s my sketch of it after a six inch layer of soil was removed temporarily on May 13, 2012.

Sketch of the headstone on the grave of Robert Rose at Manchester General Cemetery
Sketch of the headstone on the grave of Robert Rose at Manchester General Cemetery

I wonder how long it is since anyone saw it? The Cemetery buildings were demolished in 1959.

It’s a simple, attractive design, in great condition, and this is the inscription:

In Memory of

the Bard of Colour,
who departed this Life
June 19th, 1849, Aged 43 Years.

I’d rather have my tomb bedew’d at eve,
With the lone orphans or the good man’s tear,
Who softly stole at twilight there to grieve,
I’d rather have this quiet humble fame
Than hollow echo of an empty name.

Having read the various descriptions of the funeral and headstone, it really brings the history to life when you see the monument itself in the present day. We’re so lucky this has survived when so many have been lost.

The headstone has been covered over again to keep it safe and well-preserved. Meanwhile my research into Robert Rose continues.

Update: 15 June 2012

I’ve found quite a bit more about Mr. Rose and will add it when I get the time.


Photographs expose the marketing hype behind the 2012 Manchester Irish Festival Parade

As Manchester City Council cuts services and grants to various events, it’s essential that the public is able to have an honest debate about what should be funded.

Corporation StreetThe organisers and City Council exaggerate crowd numbers for this parade enormously, probably by a factor of ten, while the media fail to scrutinise and report accurately.

The photographs below show the true level of attendance at the 2012 Manchester Irish Festival Parade as it passed through the city centre on 11 March.

On the event’s website, the organisers claimed: “100,000 people are expected to flock to the city centre and line the three mile route” and that this was “one of Europe’s biggest St. Patrick’s Day Parades.”

Since the parade, they’ve continued. Claiming that: “Organisers said an estimated 12,000 were packed into Albert Square alone — with more than 100,000 lining the full parade route.” See below for more analysis of these figures.

I was first alerted to this last year by a fellow photographer who had gone along and afterwards expressed amazement at the low turn out as compared to the hype. So the small crowds this year aren’t anything new…