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, political letters, documents, photographs and ephemera relating to the Black presence in Nottingham.
When We Worked At Raleigh is one of the many projects researched and documented by the archive. This project is actively being worked on and is continuing to expand its records. Any suggestions on improving the project are welcomed and if you can contribute in any way, please get in contact with us. We would love to hear your story.
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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