Lancashire Mills


One Voice Blackburn has launched an exciting heritage project, My First Day in Lancashire Mills.

The project explores the arrival of people from South Asia and Africa into Lancashire in the 1960s and 1970s.

The project focuses on engaging young people in the history of Lancashire Mills and the people connected to them. It was delivered by the multi award-winning West End Girls (WEGS), who are a part of One Voice Blackburn.

Supported through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the WEGS gathered oral histories which were recorded on video of older people from the South Asian community with experience of Lancashire Mills from the 1950s to 1970s.

Interviewed by the WEGS, Moosa Jangaria spoke of his arrival in the UK in 1962.

“There was no immigration then. I came from Bombay to Cairo and then Cairo to here.”

Speaking of his job in the Lancashire mills, Moosa said he received a salary of £6 a week.

Yusuf Jan Virmani spoke of how he travelled from Uganda to the UK with his father in 1972 as refugees.

“I was a student at the time and I worked for three months in a cotton mill. I was a quality controller there. It was quite interesting.”

Riaz Ahmed came to the UK in 1967 as he was “looking for good prospects.” He said he choose to move to Blackburn with the hope of gaining “a good job and a good future.”

Iqbal Bhai arrived in the UK from India in June 1966 when he was only 11-years-old, following his father, mother and older sister.

He remembers England doing well in the World Cup leading to a jubilant ambience in Blackburn. Iqbal’s aim was to educate himself well.

Speaking of his job in the mill, Iqbal said, “The floor was jam packed with people and machines. I started off as a labourer then I was put on an injection moulding machine that made slippers.

“We were well paid, so I was told by my friends!”

One Voice is an organisation that aspires to create an inclusive, cohesive and vibrant community in Blackburn with Darwen.

Working with heritage professionals from the Lancashire Mills, One Voice participants were able to gain a deeper insight into this previously under-researched part of their history.

Ouswa Ali from the WEGS who led the project said,

“It was a wonderful experience speaking to the older generation about their work when they first arrived in Lancashire. It invoked a huge sense of nostalgia in our interviewees. The project will support young people like myself to be active citizens with pride in their Lancashire heritage.”