Lydia Benjamin

LYDIA BENJAMIN came to Nottingham in 1969. After working at Players for a short period, she moved to Raleigh in the 1970s and stayed until Raleigh closed in 2002. Her work was hard and involved lifting bicycles off the conveyor belt and working with toxic chemicals.

“Sometimes I had to mix my own glue as the glue from the manufacturers was too thick.  I used turpentine to mix it to a particular texture. It was very polluted.”

Lydia Benjamin

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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