Arrival in the United Kingdom

Evacuees who held a British passport could come to the United Kingdom. On arrival they still faced a bewildering prospect. Those who did not have relatives to stay with were taken to resettlement camps. These were old army and Royal Air Force bases spread throughout the country.

British Subject Identity Card, 1960

British Subject Identity Card, 1960

Making a home in Leicester, 1970s

Making a home in Leicester, 1970s


Aruna Karelia remembered:

“There was no Asian food at the camp so chefs took over and started going out to... to get shopping and start cooking our food for us.”

These camps provided basic accommodation and food but were only a short term solution.


Leicester already had a significant Asian community and it proved a popular place to settle, but this was not always welcomed by local people.

Fear of overcrowding in schools was just one of the concerns voiced by local councillors and in July a deputation lead by Councillor Mrs Davis went to Whitehall. In September the council took out an advertisement in the Ugandan Argus which strongly urged people not to come to Leicester.

Advert Taken out by Leicester City Council in Ugandan Press, 1972

Advert Taken out by Leicester City Council in Ugandan Press, 1972

Mahendra Rayarel with wife Surbhi on their wedding day, 1973

Mahendra Rayarel with wife Surbhi on their wedding day, 1973

New arrivals often went to the Highfields, Spinney Hill and the Belgrave areas. Plans to create an urban motorway in the Belgrave area had led to slum clearance and a drop in the market value of houses and businesses. This made houses more affordable to families arriving in Leicester.

To deal with the rapid increase in school children Moat School was redesignated and catchment areas redrawn.

Mrs Gordon who taught many of the new Ugandan Asian pupils at a school in Bridge Road remembered:

“I loved it, I never got tired of teaching the children because they were so receptive, so keen to learn. Sometimes a bit too keen, you know they all wanted to be brain surgeons you know and doctors but you got used to that.”

Photograph of Mrs Gordon and a class of her primary school pupils in the 1970s
Marriage celebrations of a Ugandan Asian couple, Leicester 1970s

Marriage celebrations of a Ugandan Asian couple, Leicester 1970s


When talking about her early school days in England, Bala Thakrar recalled about going to school in England “I suppose going into the school was that was a frightening thing. I went to a school where there weren’t many other Asian or African children so that was for me was the biggest shock that I saw just all white children”.


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Leicester in the 1970s