‘Delicate’ children from Manchester and Salford board a train at Mayfield Station, Manchester, in 1948

The ‘returners’ at the 70th Anniversary Celebration, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2018

From left to right: Barbara Eckersley (now Barbara Bould), Vincent Harold Gorman, Barbara Gore (now Barbara Whitlow), Barbara Fowler (now Barbara Lewis), Ann Fox (now Ann Burnside), Doreen Beckett (now Doreen Pratt), Robert Burke, Judith Sie (now Judith Lea), Richard Larkin, Kenneth Kirkbride.​

Welcome to the Passions of Youth, a website which tells stories of history and heritage in Manchester and Salford from the perspectives of children and young people. The site is based on participatory and collaborative community projects which use childhood and leisure experiences to connect older and younger generations through an understanding of history. It is supported by the History Research Centre and the Manchester Centre for Youth Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Returning Home

Our most recent project, Returning Home, has been inspired by archive film of the same name in the North West Film Archive (NWFA) at Manchester Metropolitan University. This film was made in 1948 to commemorate the return to Manchester of some 238 ‘delicate’ children aged between five and eleven who had been sent from Manchester and Salford to stay with foster families in Switzerland for three months, part of a postwar humanitarian project promoted by the Swiss Red Cross.  June 2018 was the 70th anniversary of the children’s return to the UK and the NWFA showed extracts from the film on regional television and publicised it in the local press, asking for people who had gone on the visit to get in touch.

Dozens of  individuals and family members got in touch, sending in mementos, photos, letters and postcards. An audience of about 80 subsequently attended a 70th anniversary screening of the archive film to share their stories and experiences. Some of these are helping to curate this online project, which will include archive film, interviews with children who went to Switzerland, biographical accounts and family histories.

Returning Home is an evocative phrase when we’re living through social distancing and lockdown. Many of our Returning Home participants are having to live apart from their families now. This online portal of shared memories and experiences may help in a small way to connect them with shared childhood experiences and encourage intergenerational conversations about these stories. It is work in progress, and we hope you will join us on our journey over the next few months.

We would love you to get in touch to contribute your own experiences, especially if you or someone in your family was one of the children sent to Switzerland in 1948!

The Passions of Youth

The original Passions of Youth project was a community project which celebrated the leisure passions of working-class young men in their teens in Manchester and Salford, who worked with historians, youth and community workers and film-makers to acquire new skills in historical research, oral history techniques and film-making.

Young boxers visiting the Archives at Manchester Central Library

Youth studies and histories of youth have often focused on the exceptional and sensational, rather than the ordinary and everyday. Working-class young men have been stereotyped negatively in popular culture; it is widely accepted that heritage, arts and culture are in the main accessed and understood by a white, affluent, middle class, educated demographic. Passions of Youth contested these assumptions.  It celebrated the informal learning, skills and experiences that ‘ordinary’ working-class young men often develop through everyday leisure activities of their own choosing.  Shared leisure passions became a medium through which to extend informal skills using different creative approaches. They learned technical and story-making skills and gained confidence by research visits to the People’s History Museum, Archives+ at Manchester’s Central Library, the NWFA, and the Working-Class Movement Library in Salford. They developed pride in their own stories of heritage and local identity, which were shared in celebratory events in north Manchester, at the Miners’ Community Arts and Community Centre and FC United Community Football Club.

Find out more about the project and the groups which  participated by using the menu at the top of the page.

Passions of Youth was funded by the Arts and Humanities Council (AHRC) and supported by the Manchester Centre for Regional History at Manchester Metropolitan University. New community-based projects are supported by the Manchester Centre for Youth Studies and the History Research Centre, both at Manchester Metropolitan University.


In 2019, Passions of Youth was an international Real Impact Award finalist, shortlisted by Emerald Publishing as an example of Mobilising Research into Action: engaged research which meets an important social need. The project was featured in Emerald’s Real Impact Awards Showcase book.

For further information about Passions and Returning Home contact Prof. Melanie Tebbutt, Manchester Metropolitan University: m.tebbutt@mmu.ac.uk