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Mr Bakhsish Singh Attwal came to Highfields in 1957.

Multicultural Archive Project Transcription B.S. Attwal MBE.

1951 – Worked as civil servant in India. Background; father & grandfather were farmers. Came to Coventry.

1957 – Settled in Highfields. Bought a house for 450, it had twelve bedrooms which we rented some out.

First impressions. A peaceful area. Few Asians in Leicester about 4050. Could get a home, preferred the area because of shopping facilities. In 1957 everything was on ration, eg. 6 eggs, 1 pound sausage. No corner shops. Go into town for shopping. Central area, Victorian type of home, and cheap that's why bought the property. Also a few other Asians lived nearby. Wherever there had been a house suitable I would have bought it. No Indian vegetables available. No yoghurt available.

One grocery shop. Mr Patel used to come to your house and drop lentils etc off. Could telephone him.

Yoghurt was essential so asked dairies to produce yoghurt.

Weather -did not find it very hard. Used to snow every year.

CO Nobody around Highfields to teach English. Many Asians could not speak English.

Before me illiterate people used to work at nights, during day, do up flats and sell for a profit of about 50.

I wanted to buy a car but nobody would sell me a car. I bought a van eventually for my market trade. Normally Asians were doing door to door selling ties, socks, etc.

Rent -1 bed and about 3 in a bedroom put 3 beds into a bedroom. All houses were 3 storey.

There were no baths then, only public baths. Had to pay 2 1/2 shillings for a bath. I had a bath in my house but only for me and not my tenant.

Stayed with Wilson family for 15 years.

I used to make my own Indian meals.

Entertainment
Not much entertainment.

After a while somebody who was a Gujarati introduced Asian films. Would book a cinema and watch an Asian film. Everybody used to come otherwise used to go to pub, but I did not consume alcohol. Coach & Horses pub.

Only a few people were racist. Majority were nice people and would talk and have a chat.

We would go to Spinneyhill Park on Sundays and would play cards, etc. People were all working class, only three Asian homes.

Police
We had no problems with the police as we did not commit any crime.

The English police force were better here than the Indian police. Would try and understand us.

Later on in a school we rented a room on Bridge Road, on Sunday we started to pray.

No places to worship in. Missed the fact that there was not a temple.

Now there are 20-25,000 Sikhs. There are 4 main Gurdwaras (Sikh temples). There are more arguments now because people disagree, eg. beliefs etc. There is no unity.

Weddings started after 1960s when families arrived, used pubs for weddings and halls.

In World War II it was worse here than in India. There were only about 1520 cars. The most common was the Morris Minor or Austin cars. No prosperity. Factories were producing weapons etc for the war. The standard of living was very poor. No central heating or double glazing. Most people went into second-hand shops and bought clothes, etc.

The Asian population was very low so there were no festivals celebrated in public such as Eid or Divali. We now celebrate at Spinneyhill Park.

Worked sometimes 10 hours of overtime. Depended upon the factory.

We did not face any racist attacks. There is no love anymore, no respect, it is a shame. People are only worried about making money and they are greedy. This is everywhere.

Now Speed Ramps.

Roads were narrower. More crime, drugs, etc and prostitution. English people left and so area became concentrated with Asians and Haiks. More Asian shops. The houses have become better. In every home there is a bath, heating. Nice decoration. More racist. People are more materialistic. Want more. The area has a bad reputation.

I am not living in Highfields and I could not go back because I am used to better. Highfields is very run down now. Highfields is not a safe area. I would not advise anybody moving into Leicester to move to Highfields.


De Montfort University