Is this Sheffield’s oldest Christmas decoration?

Vintage: Minstrel decoration.
Vintage: Minstrel decoration.
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COULD this minstrel character be the oldest Christmas decoration in Sheffield?

His owner, 75-year-old Norma Barson, certainly hopes so.

The family heirloom – made of celluloid, which is no longer widely used – with a top hat and cane has been perfectly preserved after Norma was given it by her mother before she died.

She believes the man could have been the star of generations of Christmas trees for more than 100 years.

Grandmother Norma, of Swift Avenue, Skye Edge, said: “He’s made out of celluloid, which was mainly used donkeys years ago.

“It could have been my mother’s when she was a little girl – and she was born in 1902.

“I can remember it hanging on the tree when I was a girl as well. It’s going to be at least 100 years old.

“It’s been on Christmas trees all that time.”

Norma has kept the decoration carefully preserved in a special box.

And despite being a bit long in the tooth, the only damage caused to the delicate decoration is a slight dent to the back of his hat.

Norma, who works selling refreshments and front of house at Sheffield’s Lyceum Theatre in the city centre, said: “Apart from that he’s lovely.

“I keep him in a little box, I daren’t put him anywhere else as celluloid damages so easily.

“The cane is so fine, it is likely to get broken.

“You never see anything in celluloid anymore – and we are not allowed to have minstrels.

“You never know – he might be hanging on my grandchildren’s Christmas tree one day as well.”

n Do you dust off the same fairy every year?

The Star wants to hear from anyone who has been using the same adornments on their Christmas tree for decades.

Let us know about your family heirlooms.

Call reporter Ellen Beardmore in The Star newsroom on 0114 2767676, extension 3459, email or post on