ROSALIND JORDAN, from St Kitts, arrived in Nottingham at the age of nine in 1961. She initially found employment at Boots and then went onto Raleigh in 1972. She remembers the solidarity amongst Black women from different parts of the Caribbean who worked on the assembly line at Sturmey-Archer as they assembled the gears for racing bikes.
“I received on the job training from a woman called Mrs Brown she taught me how to put the gears together and how to save some work for the next day so that I didn’t have to rush. She would teach me little tricks like marking our tins so people wouldn’t come and take them. She just made life so much easier. She also used to wait for me by the clock in the morning and as soon as she saw me she would clock me in.”
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.
View more posts