Wednesday, 16 December 2009

A very Happy Chance-mas to you all!

This is my last week working on the Chance collection in 2009 but before running off to finish my present buying and gorge myself on all of my favourite Christmas food, I wanted to do one last December post to put everyone in the Christmas spirit. Unfortunately, it has been quite difficult to find much information in the Chance collection about Christmas but this week I stumbled upon a description of the annual pensioners' social gathering, which occurred once a year around Christmas time and was inaugurated by the cashier George Lewis in 1905. The pensioners would invite the Directors to tea and one of George Ferguson Chance's or Henry Stobart's sons would impersonate Father Christmas and hand out presents including tea, tobacco and fruit on behalf of the Directors.

I have also found a mention of children's parties that were held by all of the departments of the company. Joyce Taylor, Alan Taylor's wife who is also an ex-employee of Chance, describes in an interview available on the Chance Encounters website how they would put Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy films on in the cinema room for the children and that they also had clowns and conjurers for entertainment.

I would now like to send the readers of my blog some festive Chance greetings and the best way I could think of doing this is to send you all a real Chance Christmas card. I have found a very pretty card originally sent in 1951 with the message 'With the Season's Greetings from Hugh and Cynthia Chance'. The picture on the front of the card and the inscription inside commemorate the centenary of The Great Exhibition which was held in the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park. This was an extremely important event for Chance as they not only glazed the entire building with their sheet glass, but their first lighthouse optic ever made was also displayed there.

All that remains for me to add to the delightful little card above are my own Christmas greetings. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and I will be back in the New Year reporting on my progress with the lighthouse records.

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