Asian Immigration

1950
Asian Immigration

Originally most Indians who arrived in Glasgow in the early part of the 20th C were Lascar Seamen (crew member on merchant ships trading between Glasgow and Indian Ocean) and some stayed on. One, Abdul Salim, played for Celtic in 1936/7.  Some became hawkers with suitcases filled with goods such as jumpers, 2 dresses, 35 scarves). They would go round the suburbs and across Scotland and were called Johnny Pedlers (the first Jewish and Italians migrants did the same)

The 1950s saw the beginning of the increase in numbers, especially from Punjab, partly due to the partition of that state between India and Pakistan and also because it has always been one of the most entrprenerial regions. They setteld mainly in Gorbals and sent for wives and families. Gradually suitcases gave way to small cars and vans and then some moved into wholesale business and retail. In 1970s when there were about 12,000 a survey asked Asians why they came to Glasgow and 81% said  “ for a better way of life”. Glasgow Corporation Buses also recruited Pakistanis /Indians as drivers and  conductors and increasingly the NHS needed qualified doctors. The number in Glasgow is around 30,000 and maybe 20-30% of Govanhill population is of Asian orgian

There are three main religous groups – Sikhs, Hundus and Muslims. Gradually all moved to better houses in Govanhill as well as Pollokshields seting up shops, restaurants and take aways. Govanhill streets such as Allison Street and Cathcart Road  were transformed. The movement continues to the southern suburbs. The younger generation may continue to support the family business but are just as likely to be in other businesses, accountancy and other professions, the public sector or the arts.

At the same time people from other parts of Asia arrived, especially China, and often opened shops and restaurants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally most Indians were  Lascar Seamen (crew member on merchant ships trading between Glasgow and Indian Ocean )

Some staid on ( one , Abdul Salim, playing for Celtic  1936/7)

Some became hawkers  with Suitcases filled with goods ( eg Mohammed Noor court case in 1922- suitcase had 24 jumpers, 2 dresses, 35 scarves)

 

 

Origin areas

Lahore, Faisalabad,, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Mirpur, Rawlpindi,, Multan, Sialkot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Originally most Indians were  Lascar Seamen (crew member on merchant ships trading between Glasgow and Indian Ocean )

Some staid on ( one , Abdul Salim, playing for Celtic  1936/7)

Some became hawkers  with Suitcases filled with goods ( eg Mohammed Noor court case in 1922- suitcase had 24 jumpers, 2 dresses, 35 scarves)

 

In 1950s more traders, especially from Punjab, and based in Gorbals

Called “Johnny Pedlers” – about 250 in 1950s

Formed a club in Oxford St

( cf Italians who were also pedlers)

 

Began to send for wives and families any buy small house  eg in Gorbals

Suitcase giving wa to small cars and vans

Soem moved into wholesale business

Numbers grew from 500 in 1953 to 3,000 by 1962 , 12,000 by mid 70s,. and  xx now

 

A survey in 1970s asked why they came to Glasgow

81% said “ for a better way of life”

 

Origin areas

Lahore, Faisalabad,, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Mirpur, Rawlpindi,, Multan, Sialkot

 

Many set up small shops

And capitalised on the dropping of  resale price maintenance in 1970s

Including off- licences

 

Glasgow Corporation Buses also recruited Pakistanis /Indians as drivers and  conductors

 

Then moved into restaurant  and take away business

 

(story of chicken tikka masala?)

And adapting local food- nince nan  or mince burryani

 

Cash and Carry

Ali brother Castle food and liquor cash and carry on site of Dixon Blazes

But many are suffering from late night supermarket opening

 

Mosques

Special part of Cathcart cemetery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1950
Hard Times

 

Life was not always easy for new Asian immigrants to Glasgow

Pople arrived in Britain with expectations that they could earn a better living than they had at home in Punjab. But it was often very tough to begin with.  Mr Siddique who eventually settled in a cash and carry in Calder Street tells us he was unempleyed at first and so tried his hand as a door to door salesman, then as a bus driver, and wentt back to Pakisatn – but returned to give his children a better life.

In 1960s Glasgow, it was quite common to see Pakistani men going up and down closes with suitcases full of things like shirts and blouses and socks. It was a hard way to make a living, particularly when you couldn’t speak the language very well. Sometimes they would leave a shirt or whatever ‘on approval,’ meaning they would give you it and you could pay for it next time they were round, or give it back.

Mrs Ahmed first settled in Govanhill- ” There was first of all a language barrier. I didn’t know English at all, so it was really hard for me. Socialising wasn’t possible. It was really hard to  explain things. If I went out, I found it really hard to explain to the shopkeeper what I was looking for – why I was in the shop basically. The kind of vegetables you were used to, you didn’t get here at the time. They just weren’t available. There were one or two Asian shops in the Gorbals. So it’s quite a distance away. People didn’t have cars, so you would have to go on the bus. It was mostly the men folk who would go to get the groceries – halal meat, that wasn’t readily available at the time, and things like coriander you couldn’t get, so that was hard.”

street portrait 6

Zeeb Ahmed said ” Where they lived (in Punjab) it was an open space, and they were also living in an extended family, and so there would be people comingand going all the time. And then, when you came here you were living up a close. In your own house, within in your own four walls. So there was a feeling of being alone. And they didn’t have that in Punjab”

But with hard work things improved and the next generation have reaped the benefits,

 

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1950
Punjabi Home

The majority of Govanhill and Glasgow Asian have their family’s origin in Punjab. Punjab is the historic centre of the Sikh religion and community and Glasgow Sikhs have recently built a new Gurdwara in Albert Drive adjacent to Govanhill, reflecting Indian Sikh architecure. The Gurdwara contributes much to the local community including free meals, shared by residents of Govanhill and around of all backgrounds

 

 

Areas around cities such as Lahore and Faisalabad and the districts of  northern Pakistan such as Sialkot are the main areas of Muslim immigrants.

A typical street scene in a Punjabi village and a street scene in Govanhill 


Two mosques have been created in Govanhill from converted churches and there are a number of madrasses (schools) eg in Albert Road. Fridays in Govanhill take on a different feel – many shops are closed for a time leaving some streets very quiet while Butterbiggings and Langside Roads near the mosques become crowed with worshipers- just like the towns in Punjab

 

 

 

 

Govanhill Asian Gallery