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Mr Abdul Haq came to live in Highfields in 1963.

Interview with Mr Haq Tuesday 20 December, with Hajra Makda.

When did you come to Highfields Mr Haq?

I came to Highfields in 1938.

Where did you come from?


Where did you stay?

I lived in New Walk.

In a house?

Yes, opposite the museum, next door to Dr Somerville's house.

Did you come with your family?

No, I came on my own.

Did you move to Highfields?

No, from there I moved to Stoneygate and lived there for 11 years in a house next door to Dr Morris Milard. My wife arrived in 1963. I bought a house in Buxton Street (no. 33) and lived there until 1972.

Can you describe the house?

It was a terraced house, with 3 bedrooms, a bathroom, dining room and living room.


It was outside at that time. Across the road there was Cooper's hardware shop. Now it's a sweet shop bought by an Asian family. On the corner of Buxton Street and Chatsworth Street opposite, there was a newspaper shop run by Mr & Mrs Lee – English people. I used to know them. On the other corner, there was an off-licence shop and a sweet shop. Another place in Melbourne Road, near a Mosque, big place, 30-40 years ago was Melbourne cinema. Then it changed to a Bingo Hall, then to a Mosque. Asian people took it over. I've been when there was a cinema 40 years ago.

How much was the ticket?

I don't know, but everything was very cheap in those days during the late 1930s, before the second world war. The war broke out on 3rd September 1939 and finished in 1945. Japan a few months after that!

All these areas where we are sitting now used to be houses. 2 shops – I used to call Bradleys, a lady used to run the shop – man working as a part-time chimney sweeper. Must not be alive now.

Where did you work?

Before and during the war I worked as market trader in Leicester and on other markets. Self employed. Three sons were born in Buxton Street.

Spinney Park had a cafe which isn't there anymore.

Did you go to the park?

Yes, many, many times. Also been into the cafe many times.

Which school did your children attend?

My daughter and 3 sons attended Charnwood School in Nedham Street.

What was the weather like?

It was cold. Worst winter I can remember was in 1947 – very bad, knee high snow, buses were stopped. I could use the trams in city, No 3 for Stoneygate, No 4 for Clarendon Park Road.

Were there any burglaries?

Not so much as today, people were very honest.

What about the police?

They were alright, very nice and civil. I used to know quite a few – a sergeant, and the CID department were very nice.

The first Mosque was bought in 1965 – Sutherland Mosque. 2A Sutherland Street Islamic Centre and Mosque. Before that I used to go to Birmingham . All this has been built recently. I knew the councillors and the Lord Mayor of Leicester.

Did you have a car?

Only for a short period. It's 35 years since I last drove a car. I was the first Asian Security Officer – I retired 12 years ago.

Where did you work?

On Freemens Common

My duty was for the government department. It's a secret, I can't disclose that. I worked for Securicor at Marks and Spencer as a Security Officer.

When did you come to Leicester?

I came to this city when I was 20. But everything has changed – no one keeps their culture, or dress. My son is married to a Japanese girl. Cecil Jacob I used to know – Lord Mayor was my friend in 1953 – he used to come to my house. Churchmen I used to know and MPs. I helped many Asians read and write. I write poetry. I can speak Farsi as well – Punjabi is our language – I come from the Punjab. There is good and bad in community, in every community.

What has changed in Highfields?

New buildings, garages – Highfields was best area of Leicester after Stoneygate.

And now?

Well, it's still alright. There is good and bad in every area. Places have changed as far as this area is concerned. This Post Office used to be in Berners Street.

When you lived in Highfields could you easily buy Asian groceries?

No, nothing, hardly any at all. After 1955 more Asians lived here. More came in 1972, when Idi Amin threw them out of Uganda. A lot of people in this area came from Kenya too.

How did you celebrate Eid?

I went to Birmingham.

What were the streets in Highfields?

Nothing changed, still same as it is today – all street not changed. Only Mosques converted from houses.

How did you cope with funerals?

There were no services for our people at that time.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell me of Highfields?

There's more Asian shops now, meat, clothing, fancy goods, spices. The park was beautiful, many people used to go summer time in nice weather. Very few Asian families in 1963. Only about three or four.

Who was your doctor?

Dr Saeed, he came here in 1964-1965. He opened a surgery in Evington Street then he moved to East Park Road. Now there are quite a few Asian doctors in Mere Road.

Did you have a television in your house?

There was a television shop near the bingo hall. It TV, first come about after 1953 when Queen was crowned. We had one. Black and white. No colour, very expensive.

Can you remember anything else?

St Peters Road and Melbourne Road, 2 or 3 people – market traders, very nice people. Apart from Asian shops which opened recently, Sabat Brothers on Cork Street.

East Park Road used to have the Evington cinema. And this side used to be Imperial Typewriter, different units for the whole world. Kent Street, used to be grocery shop 35-40 years ago. No. 2 now used to be in Hartington Road. I know them. Moat Boys' School changed now – now Moat Centre. Lot of things happening there, functions, prayers. That's about all I can remember.

De Montfort University