Nottingham Black Archive

Nottingham Black Archive is dedicated to documenting Black history, heritage and culture in Nottingham from the earliest time possible to the present day. It has a growing collection of oral history testimonies, photographs, books, political letters, organisational documents and ephemera relating to the Black community in Nottingham.

When We Worked at Raleigh is one of the many projects led by the Nottingham Black Archive.

All credit for leading this research goes to Panya Banjoko of the Nottingham Black Archive. Thanks also to Omara Dyer Johnson and Keisha Bruce, PhD researchers at the University of Nottingham for supporting with interviews, Tom Harris for sound production, and Primary Arts for its work on the project. The “When We Worked at Raleigh” website was created by David S. Walton. We would also like to thank everyone who contributed to this project; without their support this would not have been possible.

About the Black Archive

About us

The Nottingham Black Archive (NBA), the idea for a resource that made Nottingham black history available to the wider public, came about in 2009. The aim of the archive is to research, collect and preserve Black history, heritage and culture in Nottingham, from the earliest time to the present day. The collection holds some of the earliest documents relating to the formation of Black community organisations in Nottingham, as well as, a growing archive of oral histories, including many from the  first generation of Africans and Caribbean’s to reside in Nottingham in large numbers. The archive also holds photographs, articles, newsletters, books and political letters dating back to the 1940s.

Our Mission

Our mission is to keep the past in the present. Nottingham Black Archive is dedicated to collecting, preserving and celebrating the histories of people of African descent in Nottingham. The NBA programme of exhibitions and events provide a platform from which to share the diversity of cultures originating from Africa and the Caribbean, past and present. The collection promotes the teaching, learning and understanding of African Caribbean peoples’ contribution to Nottingham and provides an accessible permanent record of the richness of the Black experience in Nottingham.

Our Aims

  • To research, collect and document the Nottingham Black presence from the earliest time to the present day.
  • To strengthen the development, accessibility and care of the Nottingham Black Archive Collection
  • To promote the teaching and learning of Black history in Nottingham
  • To create opportunities for people to share their own stories
  • To establish Nottingham Black Archive as a leading institution for Black Heritage and Culture in Nottingham.
  • To ensure organisational sustainability

Published by When We Worked at Raleigh

The history of Black people working at Raleigh Industries in Nottingham is one which demonstrates the power of community activism. Raleigh, established in 1887, is one of the world's oldest and best-known bike brands. At its peak Raleigh produced 100,000 cycles, 250,000 hub gears, 15,000 motorcycles and 50,000 motorcycle gearboxes annually and despite the rising popularity of the car during the 1920s Raleigh become a world leader in bicycles, marketing its product to the Caribbean, Africa, and elsewhere. Over time Raleigh would become one of the largest employers of Black people in Nottingham however this privilege would be one that the Black community would need to mobilise for politically. Oswald George Powe was one individual who challenged systemic racism in relation to employment. Powe was a World War II radar operator and lifelong community activist, having founded a number of Black political organisations in the city. He arrived in the UK during the late 1940s and had a significant presence in Nottingham prior to taking up residence in the 1970s. While he advocated for Black people to work at Raleigh he never worked at Raleigh himself.

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