1970s Bradford

1971 MAPA

In 1971 the Margaret MacMillan Adventure Playground Association (MAPA) was founded in the West Bowling area of Bradford. The site was initially a playground created to provide activities for the children and young people of the mainly Caribbean families who lived in the Newby Square housing development in that area.

By 1979 MAPA had transformed into a thriving youth and community centre and was a registered charity. Since that time the site has been re-developed many times but for many years it was a thriving cultural arts centre and a hub for the Caribbean community in one of the most deprived areas of Bradford.

One of the highlights of the cultural calendar at MAPA was People’s Day which was founded in 1981 as an alternative celebration to the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.

People’s Day at MAPA involved traditional games like running races and egg throwing competitions, and the provision of traditional Caribbean food of fried chicken, curried goat with rice and peas.

Local musicians performed there, such as the legendary 7-piece, Bradford reggae band Creation Roots.

C1975 Roots Record Shop

Photo courtesy of Victor Wedderburn

In the 1970s Roots Record shop was established on Lumb Lane, run by reggae musician and DJ ‘Barry Roots,’.

This shop was a treasure trove of classic and rare, roots and reggae vinyl records and a magnet for people who loved this kind of music. In spring 2021, as part of Bradford’s Bid for Capital of Culture in 2025, Barry Root’s portrait was painted on the side of the Oastler shopping centre by street artist STEWY who specializes in creating life-size portraits of cultural icons.

A recording studio was established above Roots Records by local musician Philip Edwards. In 1984 this was transformed by Edwards into Flexible Response, a 24 track recording studio on Chapel Street in Little Germany. Flexible Response known affectionately as ‘Flex’ played a pivotal role in Bradford music history providing local musicians with a recording studio of the highest quality.

1976 Dr John Samuel

In 1976 Dr John Samuel moved to Bradford to start his job as a Lecturer in Community Education and Tutor to young Caribbean students at Bradford College.

Dr Samuel was born and grew up in Grenada in the Caribbean, where he received his early education. On completion of his secondary education, he was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to undertake undergraduate studies in Mumbai, India. He came to Britain in 1974 for further studies at Masters and Ph.D degree levels.

At the time Dr. Samuel took up his role at Bradford College, black children and young black people in the UK faced the devastating effects of racial discrimination in just about every aspect of their lives including in education – a situation aptly described by Bernard Coard in his book published in 1971 entitled: “How the West Indian child is being made educationally sub-normal in the British school system”.

Through his work at Bradford College Dr Samuel was highly successful in raising awareness of the adverse impact of racial and social disadvantage on black people in British society, tackling the barriers to learning experienced by Caribbean children in the education system and improving the take-up by Caribbean students of further and higher education opportunities at Bradford College. He developed and delivered programmes and interventions involving local schools, parents at home, youth groups, college and university students, diverse voluntary and community organisations, Bradford Council and a host of external local, national and international organisations and agencies.

In 1978, Dr Samuel was a key person in establishing the Bradford West Indian Parents’ Association (BWIPA; a membership organisation open to all who were committed to raising  the level of achievement of Caribbean children in school. Dr Samuel was successful in gaining two grants in quick succession under the Central Government’s Urban Aid Programme to support and expand the work of BWIPA.

For each of the 9 years that Dr Samuel was a lecturer at Bradford College, BWIPA held an annual conference in conjunction with Bradford College called: “Multicultural Education: the Black British Experience”. Over that period, BWIPA also organised a very successful conference on the former Ilkley Campus of Bradford College entitled: “Transracial Adoption and Fostering and its implications for children of West Indian origin”. All of these events attracted over 400 national and international participants on each occasion; no other “grass roots” educational organisation in the UK at the time was involved in this kind of ground breaking work.

Dr Samuel is well known for his work on race relations in the Bradford District. Alongside many other community activists, he has helped forge good relations between people with different beliefs and from different backgrounds and campaigned tirelessly against racial discrimination, not just in education, but also in other sectors such as employment, housing, health and social services.

After holding senior positions in universities and educational organisations across the UK and in the Caribbean, Dr John Samuel is now retired. He lives in Bradford. He continues to be actively engaged in voluntary community work in education and in health, involving many of the diverse ethnic and religious communities of Bradford.

1977 Bradford Black Magazine

When Bradford Black magazine was first published in July 1977, it stated, ‘there is a rebellion taking place in Britain today and the source of that rebellion is the black community.’ This opening line set the tone for the publication.

The magazine’s full title was ‘Bradford Black: Voice of the Black Community’. At this time, the term ‘black’ was widely used to encompass Caribbean, African and Asian people, serving as a collective term for these minority communities. Bradford Black’s first edition discussed: the police, court justice, racist attacks and The Afro (a community centre).

Bradford Black spanned from July 1977 to March 1979. The first issue asked ‘What is to be done?’ about the racist attacks members of the community were experiencing. The publication goes on in later times to comment on police harassment of the black community in Bradford. Bradford Black was produced by the Bradford Black Collective Association. Those involved included the editor Courtney Hay, an activist involved in many political campaigns in the Bradford district, and a team of editorial staff including Ingrid Serrant, Andy Clarke, Sister B and Audrey Willock. 

The publication discussed in one edition the success of ‘Afro F.C.’ which was one of Bradford’s leading black football teams. Founded in 1972, ‘Afro F.C.’, the edition suggests, was one of the most consistent and successful attempts at grassroots self-organisation.

Local points of activism, like the strikes of the Bradford bus crews over proposed service cuts by the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (PTE) are commented on. The mainly Asian and Caribbean workforce resisted pressures to go back to work and stood against the cuts.

Most prominently the publication campaigned to have George Lindo freed. It referenced the George Lindo Action Committee, who called for the right of a black defendant to have a minimum of three black jurors on their case.

As well as local issues, the publication frequently discussed national issues faced by the Britain’s black communities. They wrote about the rise of the right-wing, about Mrs Thatcher, about the rumoured banning of the 1970s Carnivals and about racially motivated attacks around Britain.

Bradford Black opened up conversations about the Caribbean and calls for independence. The Antiguan, Dominican and  St. Lucian independence movements were discussed. 

Copies of the Bradford Black magazine are held in the Bradford Local Studies Library.

1978 George Lindo

George Lindo with his wife Carole and daughter Rachel in 1979

In 1978 George Lindo was framed and jailed for robbery in Bradford. This was despite strong alibis, no evidence against him and a false ‘confession’ from a detective constable later suspended for concocting witness statements in a murder case. Members of the black community in Bradford and their supporters formed a campaign to fight against his against his wrongful conviction.

British Jamaican dub poet and activist Linton Kwesi Johnson wrote about this protest.

It Dread inn Inglan ( for George Lindo)

Dem frame up George Lindo up in Bradford town,

But de Bradford blacks dem a rally round.

Me seh dem frame up George Lindo up in Bradford town,

But de Bradford blacks dem a rally round.

This case and the campaign to free George Lindo led by the black community in Bradford hit headlines around the world. After the case going to the court of appeal, George Lindo was cleared of all charges and released from prison in July 1979 after wrongfully serving over a year inside. He was given compensation of £24,275.( £12,500 for his suffering, the rest for loss of earnings). Lindo later died of cancer at the age of just 37.

1978 Bradford West Indian Parents Association (BWIPA)

Children arriving from the Caribbean and the children of parents from the Caribbean often faced racial prejudice and many barriers to reaching their full potential  in the mainstream schools of the 1970s. To counteract this problem, members of the Caribbean community in Bradford launched the Bradford West Indian Parents’ Association (BWIPA) in 1978. Some of the key people involved in establishing BWIPA were Dr. John Samuel, Joseph Flerin , Max Prosper, Stafford Kelly, George Bailey and  Daphne Scott.

Bradford West Indian Parents Association Saturday School.
Photo courtesy of Dr John Samuel

BWIPA started out as a Saturday School based at Mannville Terrace, with the aim of enhancing the education of Caribbean origin children and Caribbean-born children who had settled in Bradford with their families. Extra support and tuition was given to children, many of whom suffered from racial discrimination in the classroom.

Having secured funding from the Central Government’s Urban programme with the assistance of  Bradford Council, BWIPA was able to take pocession of  a large Victorian house at 17 Claremont, in Bradford BD7. A 25-place full time day nursery with 5 full-time equivalent members of staff was established in 1981, providing predominantly black children with a positive early education experience. The facility was open full days and affordable which enabled many members of the community to undertake work and education, knowing their children would be well cared for. Corine Campbell, a qualified nursery nurse with the NNEB qualification, was the first officer-in- charge of the nursery and a key person in the success of the day nursery, with responsibility for the leadership of the staff team and the day-to-day management of the Day Nursery.

Over the next twenty years the Saturday School and nursery flourished.Virginia Fervier was the Deputy Officer-in-Charge at the Day Nursery. Further funding was secured from a variety of sources, enabling BWIPA to expand its provision for the Caribbean community, offering play schemes, adult-education classes, black women’s health courses, a flagship music programme, classes in performing arts, typing, hairdressing, dress-making, a support group for the Caribbean elderly and GCE ‘O’ and ‘A’ level tuition. Tutors were drawn mostly from the Caribbean community and were supported by the college in pursuing their own studies towards achieving certification as FE/Adult Education tutors.

Much of BWIPA’s legacy is being still felt today, with many members of the community remembering its contribution to their education and life chances.

1979 The Dominica Association

In 1979 The Dominica Association of Bradford was set up after Hurricane David in Dominica. Originally based at Hallfield Road, the move to 10 Worthington Street became necessary as its membership grew.

©Bradford Museums and Galleries

The Dominica Association became a centre for the community, serving both the younger and older generations. Social and educational activities were regularly held at the Association not only for Domincians, but the wider community.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, into the current day, the Association encompasses a feeling of community and togetherness. This atmosphere has been of the utmost importance throughout the Association’s lifetime as it has provided a sense of family and community to its members who have sometimes been unfairly discriminated against because of their race. It has become a sanctuary for its members and the Caribbean community in Bradford.

The Association continues to serve the community with its Senior Citizens Day Care Service. Here there have been regular fitness classes to improve mobility and provide a chance to socialise. The Association also has continued throughout the pandemic to develop and provide many facilities for its members and the wider community. 

The picture here shows a street party hosted by Dominican association as part of the Bradford Festival in 1987. Held outside the Dominican Association on Hallfield Road it marks the feast of La Salette, a festival celebrated in Dominica. The party featured calypso and steel bands, street musicians and performers, dominoes tournaments, traditional Caribbean food, drink, costumes and dancing.