From the 1950s to the 1970s Caribbean people in Bradford set up social clubs – welcoming places where people could socialise and enjoy listening and dancing to music from the Caribbean such as calypso, blue beat, ska and reggae.
Facing financial hardship in their lives and discrimination in the regular pub and clubs in Bradford at that time, Caribbean people initially took turns to host events in their own homes, moving on to set up places on an entirely voluntary basis.
One of these, founded in 1957 was the ‘Afro’ club on Godwin Street, in the city centre. This venue which opened to the public at weekends was set up by a group of volunteers called The Afro-West Indian Society. One of these was Mr George Bailey (pictured left with his family).
Born in Decoy in Jamaica, Mr Bailey left aged 21 and in 1957 found work in Bradford as a plumber at Leather Chemical Works on Canal Road. On top of his working week he acted as treasurer and also plumber for the society.
At the ‘Afro’ club, Fridays were for meeting up and games of dominoes and Saturdays involved dance nights to music form the Caribbean such as steel bands and sound systems playing reggae. Run voluntarily on a non-profit-making basis, the society provided a friendly, affordable place for Caribbean people and their guests to meet and socialise at the weekend, often after having worked long hours including overtime to make ends meet. The ‘Black Diamond’ was another Caribbean social club in Bradford which opened at the weekends only.
Others clubs in the Manningham area were run as small independent businesses and include The Sugar Cane, The Palm Cove, The Mayflower, and Bibi’s. Pearl Gladstone Minott (known to all as Bibi) moved to Bradford from Jamaica in the 1950s. Bibi first ran the Cricket Club in Thorncliffe Square, but is best remembered for his other club, which was at The Edwardian Bar on Cornwall Terrace close to Valley Parade Football Ground. Bibi’s operated a policy of admitting black, white and Asian clientele. Until his death in May 2007, Bibi continued to welcome all to his club.