Oral Histories

Where we came from

Listen to former workers at Imperial Typewriters describe how they came to Leicester from all over the world, and how they braved poverty and the cold to put down roots here. Some fled here from Uganda and had British passports, others came from India as students, planning only a short stay. Together they helped form a new Asian community.

Living in 1970s Leicester

The end of the swinging sixties was marred by growing racism from both politicians and workers and neighbours. As economic recession tightened its grip, increasing numbers of people could be heard blaming migrants for the lack of jobs and declining pay. Our pioneers describe a time of both hardship and radicalism.

Getting a foothold, getting a job

Finding employment often meant lonely hours walking the streets and asking factory foremen if there were any vacancies at their firm. Word of mouth in the community also told of where the best jobs could be found, what the right rates of pay were, and what factories were so racist they should be avoided.

Our shopfloor stories

Every floor of Imperial Typewriters had workers doing different jobs. While some people learnt their tasks quickly and progressed, others were put under ever-increasing pressure to meet targets, causing stress and tension. Hope for promotion and the prospect of better wages engendered competition between workers.