(K. Brent Tomer),
IN THE 1960s, the Ivy Bush public house in Smethwick, West Midlands enforced a colour bar. An ad hoc system, it barred Asian and Caribbean men—most of whom had migrated to the town to work in its flourishing foundries—from the premises. Today, the Ivy Bush is owned and run by Lakhbir Singh Gill, who took over the pub 23 years ago, and it is one of many “Desi” pubs in the region (“Desi” is a vernacular term meaning “of South Asia”).
This largely unknown phenomenon is being celebrated in Creative Black Country’s Desi Pubs project, which is producing a documentary, gathering testimonies and creating a photo archive. Many of these testimonies will be the experiences of working class Indians—particularly Sikh and Punjabi Indians—who have established communities in the West Midlands over the course of 50 years. “We wanted to capture the stories of migration, brotherhood and community that have taken place in and around Desi pubs,” says Parminder Dosanjh, director of the campaign. “Today they’re thriving, cosmopolitan pubs when 25 years ago some were National…Continue reading