By Ninder Kaur

A lecture took place in Bradford this week to mark the Golden Jubilee of the first Sikh temple in Bradford.

The open-door event was held at the Bradford Local Studies Library on Wednesday and was led by Dr Ramindar Singh MBE.

First Sikh temple in 1965
First Sikh temple in 1965

As the first elected secretary for Bradford’s first Sikh temple, Ramindar felt responsible to share the history of the Sikh community in the Bradford district over the past 50 years.

It was a very informative lecture which explained how the first Sikh temple was established by a small number of Sikhs in a former carpet warehouse in Garnett Street in 1965.

Although the building no longer exists, there are now seven Gurdwaras (Sikh temples) in the Bradford district to accommodate the estimated 3,500 Sikhs living here.

Attendees had the opportunity to take a close look at the growth and development of Sikh temples and other organisations. It was a real eye opener to hear about the processes of integration as well as the contributions made by Sikhs in general and civic life.
One man in particular, Dr Balbir Singh was very impressed with the outcome of the lecture and said: “Ramindar has put a lot of effort into his research.  He told me things that I didn’t know before, like how Sikh migrants came over in 1950s. I thought it was the 60s. It was good to see how he openly addressed the struggles that Sikhs faced in detail.” 

Caroline Brown, Development Officer for Local Studies Libraries added: “It was fascinating to listen about how the first Gurdwara started off 50 years ago in a carpet warehouse. It is an amazing story about how things have changed so rapidly. It provided a real insight into some of the issues different communities face and the challenges they may have ahead.”

Despite the snowy weather conditions that took place, Ramindar was very impressed with the turnout. “It’s nice to see people have risked life and limb to come here and learn about the Sikh community in Bradford.”

Ramindar is the Head of Contemporary Studies at Bradford College for many years and was awarded an MBE for his services to community relations and has authored several books. He holds an MA from the Punjab University and an MSc in economics from Bradford University.

raminder lecture

Ramindar explained the reason for why he put on this lecture. “50 years is a very long time since a community started.  So there comes a time where you need to take a look back to see the changes that have been made, what we have learnt from them and what the challenges ahead are for the future. This is what I wanted to address and I can only hope that I did it well enough.”

Following the lecture, a Q&A took place and the audience members had the opportunity to ask any questions they had.

Winston Williams, a Senior Chess Coach, was one of many that managed to take a lot away from the lecture. “I was very fascinated by the lecture because I love history and religion, and not only that but I got to learn about where I live. Any questions that I had were answered, so it was a real eye opener.”

Overall, the lecture seemed to be a success among those who attended. “It was a very well organised and researched lecture. I learnt a lot about Sikh migrants settling down here in Bradford. He identified everything from the very beginning,” said Bradford businessman Mohinder Singh Khinda.