It is commonly thought that Manchester’s South Asian community developed during the 1950s when people came from countries including Bangladesh, Pakistan and India, as textile workers to in the mills. This is incorrect and is an oversimplification of how the city’s South Asian community has developed. For example, there is evidence in the 1911 census of students from Punjab lodging at addresses in Fallowfield and Withington. During the days of the British Empire, it was not uncommon for South Asian students to attend university in the UK, as what was deemed a ‘British education’ was the only way for them to achieve career progression in the colonial system. Similarly, Pnina Werbner’s research show that the Pakistani community believes that the first two Punjabi Muslims to arrive in Manchester came in 1927 and 1937, settling in Chorlton-on-Medlock, followed by a small number of families slightly later on.
We’re keen to hear from community historians who can help us fill the gaps in our knowledge. If you can help, please contact us.
We hold some materials created by the South Asian community including:
- Asian Youth and Community Worker’s Association (AYCWA) Annual Report 1981 (Annual Reports series, q301.45 As1)
- Role of Asian Women in U.K.: Report of the ‘Day Workshop’ held on 24 March 1979 in Manchester, published by the Bangladeshi Women and Children’s Welfare Project (q305.485914 BAN (870))
- Bangladeshi Family Welfare and Advice Centre Annual Report 1985 (Annual Reports series, 301.45 Ba1)
- Bangladeshi Women and Children’s Project, 2nd annual report 1980 (Annual Reports series, q301.45 Ba1
- Greater Manchester Bangladesh Association Biennial Report 1991 to 1993 (Annual Reports series q305.891412 Gr (244)) and Annual Report 2005 (Local Studies Reference q305.891412 GRE (432))
- ‘Strength of Spirit: the Lives and Experiences of Bangladeshi Women from Manchester’ published by the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Archive, is based on interviews with Bangladeshi women in 2003 (Local Studies Reference 305.420954 Str(428))
- Pakistani Welfare and Information Centre, Manchester, Annual Reports 1966 to 1973 (301.45 PA19)
- Minutes and correspondence 1967 to 1968 for the Manchester Pakistani Welfare and Information Centre (Archives reference GB127.M184/Box 43)
- Papers of Mohammed Afzal Khan, C.B.E., Lord Mayor of Manchester, 2005-2006. During his term in office, Lord Mayor Khan attended 1000-plus engagements. The collection documents these engagements, which range from hundreds of events in the City of Manchester itself to official engagements across the world from Israel to Pakistan (Archives reference GB127.M810)
- A Gala of Pakistani Dance, Music and Song, 5 Dec 1966: a programme from the Palace Theatre Collection (Archives reference GB127.Theatre/Palace Theatre/Programmes/868)
- Plan of internal Alterations to Sikh Temple, 15 Monton Street, Moss Side, 1954 (Archives reference GB127.M900/1/1/2/22A/34909)
- Manchester Pakistani community public meeting (flyer), 7 Jun 1987 (GB127.Broadsides/F1987.83)
- Reference to South Asian Communities is made in the Manchester Evening Chronicle 1958 series Strangers in our Midst.
- Pnina Werbner Imagined Diasporas among Manchester Muslims: the Public Performance of Pakistani Transnational Identity Politics (305.891412 We(208))
- Pnina Werbner The Migration Process: Capital, Gifts and Offerings amongst British Pakistanis, Berg, New York, 1990. Chapter 1 and 2 provide some context for the Manchester community (305.8 Wer(647))
- Tahima Ala-Ud-Din The Bangladeshi Women in Manchester (305.488914 AL1)
- Zahid Hussain The Curry Mile: a novel about a young woman illustrating the experiences of migrant communities.
- Rozina Visram - The History of the Asian Community in Britain (J941.004) - for children
- Rozina Visram - Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (941.004914VIS)
- Susheila Nasta with Florian Stadtler ; preface by Razia Iqbal Asian Britain : a photographic history (941.004914 NAS)
- Ruvani Ranasinha, Rehana Ahmed, Sumita Mukherjee South Asians and the shaping of Britain, 1870-1950 : a sourcebook (941.004914)
- Ethnic Groups in Manchester in Manchester (1991 census) (q305.8Ma(499))
- A profile of the Ethnic Groups in Manchester the 2001 census (q305.800942MAN(574)
- For the 2011 census you can download an Ethnic Groups Factsheet from the Council website.
You may also be interested in our page on Early Arab and Muslim Communities in Manchester.
How to access
Materials marked with GB are available in the Search Room at Central Library. Please make an appointment.
Library members can find and reserve the other resources mentioned by following the links to our Library catalogue.
Sikh Family History Project: the original Sikh Family History Project was set up in 1982 as a one year Community Enterprise Programme funded by the Manpower Services Commission. The project was established to help young Sikhs to learn and understand about their heritage and to combat the effects of growing racism in the 1980s. Material relating to the project includes:
- Photographs And Documents Related To The Singh Family, 1936-1967 (GB124.DPA/1654)
- Photographs Related To Sarup Singh Landa And The Early Sikh Community In Manchester, 1954-1980 (GB124.DPA/1655)
- Photographs And Documents Related To Mr Dharay Singh Landa And Family, 1930-1974 (GB124.DPA/1656)
- Photographs Related To Gurpal Singh Digwa And Family, 1936-1971 (GB124.DPA/1657)
- Photographs And Documents Related To Shemsher Singh Bhakar And Family, 1916-1963
- Photographs And Documents Related To Kartar Pritam And Family, 1923-1969 (GB124.DPA/1659)
- Photographs And Documents Related To Suhagwanti Pardesi And Family, 1941-1971
- Photographs And Documents Related To Samiter Kaur Singh And Family, 1935-1969 (GB124.DPA/1661)
- Photographs Related To Kaljit Singh, c.1956-1961 (GB124.DPA/1721)
- Photographs related to Bunner Singh, 1955-1961 (GB124.DPA/1736)
- Documents And Photographs Related To Sardar Singh And Family, 1940-1981 (GB124.DPA/1743)
- Documents And Photographs Related To Daljit Singh And Family, 1922-1981 (GB124.DPA/1744)
- Poster for Work in progress' exhibition at North Hulme Centre, 7 Oct 1982 (GB127.Broadsides/F1982.87)
The archive of the Sikh Family History Project Revisited 1985-2019 is held by the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre http://documents.manchester.ac.uk/display.aspx?DocID=47029 (Archives reference GB3228.85)