to U.K. - A History
majority of South Asian migration to England has happened since 1950 but
as early as 1688 there is evidence of a Bristol man offering a reward of
20 shillings for his runaway 'Indian boy'.
A Ministry of
Labour voucher issued under section 2 of the
Commonwealth Immigrants Act, 1962
1962 Commonwealth Immigrants Act marked a serious shift in
the immigration of Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis to
England. Before 1960 such immigration had been small scale
equalling less than a third of Caribbean migration and
migrants generally had a significant knowledge of the
English language or Britain, or both. This group comprised
of: seamen, ex-Indian army personnel, university graduates,
teachers, doctors and other professionals. The entry of
South Asians to England was controlled at source by the
Indian and Pakistani governments.
1960 immigration increased equalling that from the Caribbean and the
profile of the typical immigrant changed. More often than not, South
Asian immigrants were now from a rural background and generally
unfamiliar with the language and culture of Britain. But one factor
remained constant: the importance of the contact or sponsor in Britain.
During the rush to beat the perceived impending ban in 1962 the houses
of early settlers virtually became reception centres.
small numbers of South Asian people in Britain before the First World
War were socially and geographically scattered. This group included
and nannies of East India company employees.
lived in university towns, especially London, Oxford, Cambridge and
Edinburgh. Bayswater in West London, which was popular with Indian
students in the first half of the twentieth century, was known as
lascars deserted and settled near the London docks from the eighteenth
century onwards and many became a part of the multi-racial dock
communities, cohabiting with and marrying local English women.
1858 the Strangers Home was opened in London's West India Dock
Road to provide accommodation for lascars
and assist them to find employment on ships returning to India.
Great Hall at "The Strangers Home," West India
Dock Road - A lodging for Seafaring Asiatics, Africans and
South Sea Islanders', from The Graphic, 1889
the 19th century individual cases of destitute South Asians requesting
repatriation back to India appear sporadically in the records of the
or ayahs lived with the British families that brought them to England.
An institution known as the Ayahs' Home was established in 1897 in
Aldgate to accommodate ayahs who were waiting for a return passage to
India. By 1932 it has been estimated that approximately 7, 000 South
Asians lived in Britain.