Punjab to Parliament1950
Punjab to Parliament
In the 1950s Glasgow Corporation was short of transport staff. They advertised in India and Pakistan and by 1960s Glasgow had about 500 drivers and conductors from Asia. Many operated out of Larkfield Depot in Govanhill and settled locally with many of their compatriots who had also arrived in the city. One of them, Bashir Ahmad, from Punjab, a bus conductor, was eventually elected to the Holyrood Parliament as Scotland’s first Asian MSP.
A few seamen from India arrived in Glasgow before then and worked as hawkers (“Johnny Pedlers”) with suitcases filled with jumpers, dresses and scarves (just like the Jews and Italians before them) but from 1950s onwards more arrived and quickly moved into running corner shops and Cash & Carry branches.
Most are from Punjab – Muslims from North Pakistan, places like Faisalabad, and Sikhs from Indian Punjab, now numbering several thousands and have had a significant impact in the Govanhill community. It is hard to think of the place today without its Pakistani and Indian influence – imagine no takeaways such as Yadgar in Calder St, no “Indian” restaurants, few corner shops for the late night bread, milk and papers, no cut price warehouses, as well as the sari shops and sweet shops. In a very short time the Glasgow Asian community has become fully integrated with second and third generations moving into politics, business and property, some moving out of Govanhill across the Southside, but retaining strong family and cultural ties.