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Newspaper cutting of Silors Chambers, known as Ethel, and work colleagues.

Staff from the University of Chester, Cheshire Archives and Local Studies and Cheshire, Halton & Warrington Race and Equality Centre (CHAWREC) are inviting people to The Unity Centre in Chester, from 6pm on Monday October 4, 2021, to celebrate stories of migration to the county.

CHAWREC members will reflect on their own experience of making a new home in Cheshire and Dr Hannah Ewence and Dr Kara Critchell, both from the Department of History and Archaeology at the University of Chester, will discuss some of their research into histories of migration in the region.

Attendees are also encouraged to share their own reflections and experiences - and bring along photos and personal items for a photo display at The Unity Centre, which the team behind the event are developing to complement the occasion.

During the Story Swap: Discovering and Remembering Stories of Migration and Refuge evening, food will be available. This will reflect the histories of migration which have helped to shape the region.

Dr Hannah Ewence, from the University of Chester, said: “We’re looking forward to helping to host this event which is open to all, is supported by the Institute of Historical Research and is part of the Institute’s centenary celebrations to coincide with Black History Month.

“It will offer participants the opportunity to hear and share tales of travel, arrival and settling in, the challenges of mastering a new language and climate, and the joys of making and sharing food.”

Shantele Sutherland, from CHAWREC, said: “We are really pleased to host this event, working alongside Cheshire Archives and the University. It’ll be a great opportunity as we enter Black History Month to reflect on the different patterns of migration to Cheshire and to celebrate what increased migration has brought to the area.”

Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Councillor Louise Gittins added: “I’m delighted the Council’s Archives and Local Studies team is involved with this exciting project. I hope many people contribute items to the collection, it will be great to see them all in one place, telling so many fascinating stories.”

The photo display is inspired by the ‘Journeys to Cheshire’ oral histories collection, recorded some 10 years ago, featuring interviews with migrants to Cheshire. If anyone has images, documents, or items related to any of the following themes, the team would love to see them, scan them, and potentially include them in the display:

  • The journey to Cheshire and the emotions of travel;
  • First arriving in a new country;
  • Feelings of belonging - both to a new place and to your country of origin;
  • Food that reminds you of home;
  • Clothing;
  • Weather and environment.

For anyone who cannot attend the event or would like to get involved in advance, photos and documents can be dropped off at The Unity Centre. A release form just needs to be signed so the team can have permission to copy and show them publicly. Staff will keep the documents and pictures safe and will return them once they have been scanned. For further information and any questions about the project/display, please email:

For more details on the event, please visit:


Further information on the image

  • Newspaper cutting of Silors Chambers, known as Ethel, and work colleagues.

In 1957 a young Jamaican woman named Silors Chambers, or “Ethel”, was refused a job at a factory in Cheshire. She was told that it was because of her inexperience, but Ethel believed that the real reason was because she was not white. She was later offered a job as a lining presser at Robert Dewhurst Ltd., Nantwich. She got on well with her new workmates from the start, with her colleagues each contributing to a collection so that Ethel could join them on their annual work trip. Unfortunately, she was unwell and unable to make the trip, so her colleagues gifted her the money instead. Ethel expressed her gratitude in a letter, which was printed in the Nantwich Chronicle alongside this image of Ethel and her workmates.

This story was uncovered by Becky Farmer, an Archivist at Cheshire Archives and Local Studies. Becky included this story in her online exhibition for last year's Black History Month and it will also be featured during the Story Swap event. 

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