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Modern Times: 1950s to The Present Day

Culture and Leisure


By W Hamish Fraser

George Square in Wartime The Second World War brought people from all corners of the world to Clydeside and a few decided to remain. Hundreds of Poles opted against returning to communist Poland. The most striking change was the growth in migrants from south Asia. There had always been numbers of students, particularly from the Indian sub-continent, attending the University of Glasgow and the Royal College of Science and Technology (now the University of Strathclyde) and the shipping links had brought others. The National Health Service recruited nurses and doctors to staff the new service. Others found their way to Glasgow, like previous generations of migrants, as pedlars and hawkers of cloth, while some were recruited for the building trades. The earliest Asian immigrants tended to come mainly from the Punjab, but after independence the majority were from what was now Pakistan.

Chinatown The numbers coming increased in the 1960s and 1970s with the main areas of residence being Woodlands, Pollokshields and Govanhill. By 1986 it was estimated that those with their roots in India or Pakistan numbered around 16,000, just over 2 per cent of the population, but nearly half of these had been born in Scotland. In addition there were just over 2,000 Chinese and 300 from the Caribbean. These estimates were largely confirmed by the 1991 census which for the first time asked people to place themselves in an ethnic category. The majority of Asian families owned their own businesses, many just single shops, but there were also some very large wholesale and cash-and-carry businesses. The 1990s have seen movement into other businesses such as the leisure and video industry.

Vietnamese Immigrants Recent decades have brought small numbers of refugees escaping persecution and war: from Chile in the 1970s, from Bosnia in the 1990s, from Iraq and elsewhere at the close of the 20th century. Compared with the rest of the UK Scotland's ethnic minority communities are relatively small, but with the rapid decline in Glasgow's population the need for migrants has become greater than ever.

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