Saturday, 1 December 2012

Londonderry's Jewish Bagman

Over the years many manufacturing industries have come and gone in Londonderry. One of them was the production of leather goods, primarily that of grip bags. This was the business established by Ludwig Schenkel when he fled the Nazi Anschluss of Austria and ultimately arrived in the City. It would seem that he initially achieved British Nationality, but that this was this was taken away from him, presumably as a consequence of the outbreak of the Second World War. On the 23rd September 1947 he was however readmitted to British Nationality. Notice of  this appeared in the London Gazette on 17th October 1947. By this stage he was living at Balmoral Avenue.

He carried on his business at 91 Foyle Street. His company was named, A Halliday Ltd. With the cities long tradition in shirt production he never had any problem in attracting competent seamstresses. For over thirty years this dapper little man provided employment for some thirty five workers. Just before he retired from business he presented my parents with one of his bags. They still have it, although it is a trifle battered after some forty five years of use.

I suppose that I cannot have been more than eight or nine when I first met Ludwig and his wife. It was at the Guildhall where the local horticultural society was holding its autumn show. He had won the cacti and succulent classes. I was unplaced. He took time to explain to a very enthusiastic schoolboy how he had carried out certain grafts. I subsequently visited him on several occasions to see his very large collection of cacti.

Horticulture was only one of the many hobbies and interests pursued by Ludwig during his retirement years. Both the piano and philately occupied much of his time, but photography was his passion. Most of his photographs were taken in Co Donegal where he had a holiday home at Clonmany. The Co Donegal historian, Sean Beattie, regards Ludwig's photographic legacy as being of particular importance going so far as to say that he will, " replace Lawrence as the post war iconic image maker for the North West." Several of Luwig's photographs are to appear in Sean's book, "A Cultural and Social Atlas of Donegal."

A nice man. A cultured man. A man who has left his mark.

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