GOVERN MURRAY began working at Raleigh in 1968. He had just turned sixteen and newly arrived from Jamaica. He spent the next 37 years working until he was made redundant. By the time he had completed his time at Raleigh he was able to make a bicycle from start to finish.
“I did so many different jobs at Raleigh that I became a trouble-shooter. If they couldn’t mend a bicycle on the rail, they’d send it to me to fix. They would also send me to Amsterdam and Holland to fix bikes there and once they wanted me to go to Germany to mend some bikes, but I said no. When I think about it now I should have gone. The reason why I didn’t go was because of the racism.”
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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