South Asian

  1. Brief history

    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.

  2. What's available

    We hold some materials created by the South Asian community including:

    Other reading:



    You may also be interested in our page on Early Arab and Muslim Communities in Manchester.

    You may also want to look at material in the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre.  Some of their materials appear on our library catalogue and may be listed below.

  3. 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.

  4. Photographs

    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 (Archives reference GB3228.85)

    There are also photographs in our Local Image Collection and albums on Flickr: Diwali and a South Asian Community Collection.

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