The African-Caribbean Community in Gloucestershire have explored the history and settlement of the African-Caribbean, Chinese and Asian communities in Gloucestershire.
Norman Mally (Malachi) Hutchinson arrived in England on 9 November 1950 aged 21. He had paid the fare of £106 to the Chin Yee Travel Service and flew from Palisadoes Airport in Jamaica to Miami and then to New York where he took the Cunard liner Britannic to Liverpool.
He came alone, looking for work. He had seen advertisements in the newspapers stating that ‘Britain Has Work’ and like many others intended to stay only three to five years.
One of 10 children, brought up on a farm, he intended to make enough money to return home. He had an address of an acquaintance who was living in Brixton, but met a man by the name of Bertram Cooper on the ship who was travelling to Gloucester and he went along with him.
Bertram was from St Catherine in Jamaica and had friends already in Gloucester, who were living at the hostel in Brockworth. Arriving on a Saturday, a place had been reserved at the hostel for Bertram by his friends, Jim Green, Ben Green and Eddie Blair, but not for Mally.
They had to hide him at the hostel for two nights. He remembers sleeping on a concrete floor, covered with coats. On Monday, he was busy attending offices in Pitt Street, acquiring his ration card, identity card and insurance card.
After attending the Labour Exchange and getting himself a job as a motor mechanic at Chambers Motors, Mally had to find somewhere to live.
He went to the police station, then an old detached house at Bearlands. The policeman rode his bicycle around the city to various addresses, with Mally walking alongside, in order to find him accommodation.
Not Wanted They had little success, with owners saying things like “Sorry, Im not having them here”, until an Irish woman by the name of Mrs Orett offered him a place at 168 Southgate Street.
He recalls the inadequacy of his clothing for the winter weather and remembers his friends buying him an old army coat for 7s 6d from Woods Army and Navy Store in Westgate Street, which became his “house coat, dressing coat and blanket”. His second home was with a Mrs Moore at 36 Parkend Road. He next lived at the home of Eric Saxon “the first (white) man to open his house so that black people could get somewhere to live”.
Brave Man He recalls that Eric “was a brave person” and “went through hell”, stating that he and his wife suffered persecution for taking in Jamaican lodgers. They lived at 236 Barton Street, directly opposite the Red Lion public house (since demolished). Abuse was shouted to all the occupants of the house, black and white, from the pub.
It was at this time, in 1953, Coronation year, that Mally met his wife Sybil. She had arrived from Barbados in March 1950, one of the first five women to be recruited to the health service to train as a nurse.
She began her training at North Stafford Royal Infirmary in Stoke-on-Trent. They met whilst she was at Savernake Forest Hospital in Wiltshire. He had visited the hospital with a Jamaican friend whose sister had arrived to train as a nurse.
When she completed her training, she joined Mally in Gloucester. They married in 1954. As a couple, they experienced great difficulty in finding accommodation, on one occasion a door was slammed in their faces.
Few Black People in Gloucester Mally states that at that time there were very few black people in Gloucester, and most were living at the hostel in Brockworth. He recalls the first black person to purchase a house was Mr Cedric Smith, a Jamaican, who jointly owned 52 Hopewell Street with a Mrs Jessie Rogers, who came from Burma. Mr and Mrs Hutchinson lived at this house for a while.
Mally recalls it being overcrowded, with approximately 14 people living there. He soon moved to a flat where he lived for six years and where three of his children were born. Then he moved to council accommodation until he bought his first house in Malmesbury Road. In 1968 he bought the house in Lonsdale Road where he still lives.
Overcrowding Overcrowding was inevitable. It was difficult to find many locals willing to open up their homes to them. The early immigrants faced hostility, prejudice, discrimination and, in the absence of any laws to prevent it, overt racism.
Therefore, when one of their countrymen was able to buy their own home, he would be inundated with requests to rent a room, or even a bed. Many men, who worked shifts, tell stories of sharing the same bed in those early days!
Acquiring the finances to purchase one’s own home was also difficult. Banks were not always willing to supply the new immigrants with mortgages. ‘Pioneers’ led the way in helping others to achieve the means whereby they could purchase their own home.