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Mr Tirthram Hansrani came to live in Highfields in the late 1940s.

Multicultural Archive Project Transcription – Mr Tirthram Hansrani, 7/10/94.

My name is Mr Tirthram Hansrani.

I was born in Jilander in India. I am 72 now. I came to England in 1948. I worked in a Court. My brother was here in England. He had already been here for 8-9 years. My father had a good business in India. I only came for a holiday and to visit my brother. There was no other purpose. I had no vision of settling here. I went to Coventry in 1948 to my brother. He moved his business from Coventry to Leicester. I moved to Fosse Road and then onto Conduit Street. I bought it. It was number 1 Conduit Street. There were shops. Everything was there. Did not have to go far for shopping. I chose Highfields because I liked the house. The house was big. We bought it for 12,000. That house is not there anymore. It's been demolished. There is only the pub now. It has changed its name now.

The Highfields area was nice then. It was a family area. It was a peaceful area. The weather used to be so cold. It would snow heavily and be very foggy. There used to be more snow then.

Also there are more facilities now, gas central heating, carpets to keep the house warm. Even getting coal was difficult. Things were cheap. I could not get Indian, Punjabi food. I could get a few things like lentils, curry powder, chilli powder. After a long time, a Mr Stanford opened a shop. He was very nice, really helpful and sympathetic. He used to deliver to your home.

I knew English so I did not find things that difficult. The people were very helpful then. A person did not feel silly asking for some help. The people were ever so helpful. They could not do enough for one another.

I started my own business. I got a market stall and then I got a job in a factory. They used to make tyres, etc. The houses were very cheap compared to now but the things seemed expensive then because the wages were low. In some houses there were baths. It cost 6p for a bath!

There were a few shops in Saxby Street, London Road and Conduit Street.
I was here for 4 years without my family. I used to get up early and have breakfast and go to the market. I used to take 2 days off to buy the stock and do my own shopping. My brother's wife used to cook. I used to go and see my friends and brother for entertainment.

We used to get jobs quickly then. The second world war had just ended so the industry was setting up again. However we had to work very hard, the jobs were hard. In Highfields there were no factories. We used to work 50-55 hours a week. The average pay was 7. If we did overtime we got 8-9. That was considered a good salary. I worked in a Foundry. I used to walk or sometimes I would go on the bus.

Later on, (in 1959) after Conduit Street, I moved to College Avenue. It was a 4 bedroomed house. The weddings were simple then. We did not hire big halls. The Police were very helpful. People were confident then, they had faith in the Police. The Police did their duty well. We used to leave the money on the doorstep for the milkman, etc. We did not need social security because we could get jobs.

Food and clothes were on ration. It was hard to get eggs and butter. It was hard to get clothes. We got ration tokens from an office on Albion Road.

There was no racism, people were not bothered about colour. People did not celebrate Eid and Vasakhi. After 1970 people started to celebrate in their homes. Now people celebrate in public, eg. Spinneyhill Park.

Conduit Street has been demolished. The shopping areas have been changed. There are more buses now. In Highfields there was no danger, you could walk alone at night, at any time. You could wear jewellery safely but now it's not safe. Anybody can get robbed.

The old Highfields was a safe, residential area. Highfields was a mixed area. There were working class people and middle class people. There were no Asian shops on Melbourne Road. Before, people walked or used the buses. People are more selfish now. If I had to live at Highfields I would feel frightened as it's not safe anymore. There is unemployment there.


De Montfort University