THEY were pioneers in so many ways.
Now the fascinating memories of Huddersfield’s Asian community will be put under the spotlight.
Stories of the lives of many of Huddersfield’s first Asian immigrants will be studied in a university project.
Huddersfield University has been awarded £50,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for its Asian Voices project.
The study aims to interview at least 100 Asians about their first experiences of arriving in Huddersfield.
Asian Voices hopes to explore how first generation immigrants settled, the difficulties they faced in finding accommodation and employment together with how welcoming the town was.
The project will include a website and book to follow.
Nafhesa Ali, from Birkby, has been appointed project manager.
She said: “My own family and others faced enormous problems when they arrived. The weather itself must have come as a shock, let alone the very different social culture they found themselves in.
“Many of those first settlers will now be in their 70s and 80s, so it is essential we interview them while they still retain those memories.
“We also intend to involve younger members of the community as well by getting them to interview their parents and grandparents.
“The impact the first generation has had on Yorkshire, and Huddersfield in particular, has changed the cultural and physical landscape forever.”
Nafhesa, 26, is herself the mother of three young children and part of an extended family in Huddersfield.
She said: “My grandfather Ashraf Ali arrived here in 1963, after coming to the UK from Lahore in Pakistan.
“He worked in many of the textile mills and is still active and in good health.
“The older generation now keep themselves to themselves, but I hope they can take the chance to remember how all the hard work they put in has helped their children and grandchildren”.
Yorkshire Heritage Lottery Fund head Fiona Spiers said: “The Asian community has played a vital role in Huddersfield’s lively and varied character.
“This project will preserve this unique heritage by bringing its stories to life, letting everyone get involved and share their past.”
For more information on Asian Voices call the Centre for Oral History Research at Huddersfield University on 01484 478412 or 01484 478411.