Emily's posts

“Middlesbrough 1961: A British race riot of the 1960s?”-Panikos Panayi

Panayi begins the article by stating that certain parts of the commonwealth immigrant experience in Britain are understudied. Since the end of the 1800s, all major immigrant groups in Britain have sustained physical attacks, but since the 1960s violence has not been carried out on a large scale, as it was for example during the First World War against German migrants. However small-scale attacks took place, including arson, physical violence and even murders.

Panayi starts the article by giving some detail of the movement of Asian migrants to Britain. The migration of Indians to Britain before the 1950s was on a small scale. Some servicemen stayed in the country after the wars, and usually stayed around ports such as London, Cardiff and Liverpool. Large scale Pakistani migration in Britain began in the late 1950s and early 1960s. By 1961 the Pakistani-born population of Britain was around 24,900, according to the census of that year, although it was thought to be more. In the Pakistani population of Britain in the 1960s, men outnumbered women on a scale of about 5,380 men to every 1000 women. This unequal ratio was due to many Pakistani men only intending to stay in Britain for a short time in order to earn money for their families, who they intended to return to.

This article looks at how hostilities developed towards Pakistani migrants and other immigrants, which led to the Commonwealth immigrants act of 1962 being passed. Panayi explained that in the years running up to 1962, British Xenophobia began to see its main targets as black immigrants, Indians and Pakistanis, rather than Jewish immigrants.

The main focus of the article is the attacks on Pakistani property in Middlesbrough in August 1961. Middlesbrough had many immigrant groups in the 1960s. Disorder in Middlesborough broke out on the 19th August 1961 and lasted until the 21st August. Crowds attacked the Taj Mahal café on Cannon Street, which belonged to an English woman and her Pakistani husband. This violence spread and rioters even turned on police. The disorder resulted in £1,200 worth of damage and 55 court prosecutions.

The Middlesborough disturbance was one of the last major incidents of whites attacking immigrant property on a large scale. Panayi describes these attacks in Middlesbrough as a race riot, and says they are an example of anti-immigrant violence in recent British history.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *