ROYDON ALLEN, on leaving school, was offered four opportunities of employment, one of which was at Raleigh. Allen’s mother was already an employee at the factory. His decision to become a Technician apprentice was influenced by the conditions he saw his mother working in.
“I saw my mum in the press shop where there wasn’t any health and safety in those days. I’d go to the press shop after school and sit with my mum and watch as she made a thousand components before earning a shilling. I thought I’m too bright for this. So, when I left school I went for an apprenticeship. It was difficult because there wasn’t any people of colour who worked in the skills department. There was lots of Black people in the press shop, and on assembly, but I didn’t want do that.”
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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