Black Country Punjabi Workers – starting points

My focus has been in creating a project with the idea of collecting some sort of photographic images stored in archives of the Punjabi community’s involvement with work in the Black Country. Many were invited to the Black Country region to work in its factories and foundries during the 1960s onwards, however my question and research to this project relates to the visual evidence of their work in these places and how can this visual imagery be collated for future generations?

I have started to explore images that reflect the truth of the years of factory work by the Punjabi community, my starting point being to access and research the images locally in archives and collections that already exist around the region. I have also have some images I took in my early years with the experimenting with the photographic medium of Punjabi’s at work. However I will be exploring new ways and found images related to the period through intense research.

I have been placed within the Dudley area to work this project and have made contact with Dudley College and will be working alongside first and second-year students. My first class will be with second-year students in mid-September onwards where I will introduce my work around the above subject. I will be showing the students about the value of archival projects and creating projects out of this.

As connected to approaching community groups that meet in the City of Wolverhampton I have liaised with a third party org have organised some drop-in sessions that take place on Tuesdays at Central library.

Alongside the archival images I wish to create portraits of the people for this project along the way and collect their stories and experiences of who worked in the factories. This I hope to give some artistic context and narration to the images I find.

Coneygre Foundry Social Club's annual children's Christmas party for the children of foundry employees, Dudley c. 1965. The photographs were photographed by Frank Power, and collated by Stanley Morris (pictured far left) Stanley Morris started working at Coneygre Foundry in 1948 as a Production Controller. In 1950 he became involved with the Foundry Sports Social Committee and later became the Vice-Chairman. The photos clearly show the children of foundry workers from South Asian Heritage. Amongst the volume of photographs I found depicting this event not a single image showed a picture of the parents of the children from the children.
Gurdev Rai was the first South Asian factory worker on the Racing Car Division at the Goodyear factory in Wolverhampton when he started in 1961.
Gurdev Rai (retired) stands outside the Goodyear factory on Stafford Rd , Wolverhampton on a cold 20th December 2016 to support workers leaving on the sad day of the factory’s closure. As workers came out one of them included his own son Baljinder Rai for whom he successfully got a job at the plant in 1980, it was an incredibly moving moment in time for all involved.

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