Bradley Mills            History

In the 1950s and 60s Huddersfield was part of the woollen district of the West Riding. For hundreds of years, it had been known worldwide for its textile industry and fine woollen worsteds.

After the Second World War, there was a shortage of labour throughout Britain in many public services and industries, among them the textile industry. Initially, Europe was seen as the main source of manpower - hence the influx of workers from such places as Poland and the Ukraine. But, with supply unequal to the demand, Britain turned to its former colonies for labour.

During the 1950s and 1960s, therefore, over a million immigrants came from the Caribbean, the Indian sub-continent, Africa and the Far East. They were British subjects; many had fought in the war, spoke English, and were willing to fill gaps in the labour market. Often they never intended to settle permanently.

In the North, these workers came to work in the steelworks of Sheffield, or the textile mills of the West Riding andyorkshire_huddersfield_market_place_1910 Manchester. They settled in such towns as Batley, Dewsbury and Huddersfield and, eventually, brought their families over to join them, making the Pennines their home.

Over time, immigrant communities established their own community institutions (educational, social and religious) and developed cultural activities and places (from food shops to art centres), as well as becoming involved in British society.

Our Asian Voices project aims to capture the memories of some of these early settlers in the Huddersfield area from the Asian communities. We want to hear, first-hand, about their attempts at integration - at work, while following a religion, through education and leisure activities - and look at how communal activities such as sport, religion and shopping can help with this. We want to hear about their experiences of work, worship, neighbourhood communities, and about the cultural and leisure pursuits they brought with them from their homeland, and the ones they became involved in after settling here.

In time, we hope to hear from their children and grandchildren - the second and third generations - about their experiences, and encourage them to reflect on the experiences of their elders.