THEY came here in the 50s and 60s.
It was a strange new world for many of them, but they found work and homes and had families.
Now a book detailing the experiences of South Asian migrants to Huddersfield during the 1960s and 1970s has been published.
It is a collection of memories put together by Nafhesa Ali, working for the University of Huddersfield.
She is a 29-year-old mum of three, who lives in Birkby and was born in Huddersfield.
But her late grandad, Ashraf Ali, arrived in the UK in 1960 from the Punjab and was among the early Asian immigrants to Huddersfield.
Asian Voices is based on a series of in-depth interviews of migrants from the Indian sub-continent to this country and in particular to Huddersfield.
As expected, there are many memories of the town’s textile industry, which provided work for many of the new immigrants.
But there are also stories about trips to the cinemas, visits to the seaside and the “ritual” of Saturday as a shopping day.
The book is part of research for the University’s Centre for Oral History.
Mrs Ali said: “It’s a unique collection of personal testimonies and family photographs, and hopefully readers can glimpse the difficulties migrants faced and the way in which the first generation was determined both to integrate and maintain their culture and language.
“They were the first ‘British Asians’.
“Some migrants expected to find the streets of Huddersfield paved with gold and were surprised to find, instead, a blackened, industrial town.
“Professionals from successful families found themselves working endless night shifts in the textile mills or doing manual jobs.
“The book highlights the huge cultural challenges that faced wives and mothers in adapting to a strange new land.
“They would be the educators of future generations and responsible for passing on the language, culture and religion”.
But she admitted it was a thrill and a pleasure to work on the book, meeting many members of a community now firmly ensconced in Huddersfield.
The project was funded by the Heritage Lottery which has already backed a number of successful oral history projects recording people’s memories and experiences.
Dr Stephen Dorril, the director of the research centre, said: “I find the book deeply uplifting, especially at a time when ideas of multi-culturalism are under attack.
“It is really a celebration of how people struggle to adapt and integrate whilst also trying – like we are all entitled to do – to preserve our cultural background and heritage.
“The testimonies are full of stark contrasts – from queuing up all night to see the Beatles at the ABC Cinema to watching back-to-back Bollywood movies on a Sunday afternoon.
“Others talk about the search for shops that stocked spices, and live chickens, and also their reactions to seeing snow for the first time.
“I am struck by the resilience and dogged determination of the migrants to succeed and their ability to make light of the obstacles even when faced with outright racism in the early days.
“I think we also welcome the fact that Huddersfield has also achieved quite a lot.