Knights of the Raj

A group of people looking at historic photos on a touch table
Audience using the touch table to see historic photographs Soul City Arts

Heritage Grants

Birmingham, West Midlands
Soul City Arts
The history of the pioneers of Birmingham’s Bangladeshi-owned ‘Indian’ restaurants was uncovered and shared through an immersive exhibition, events, website and book.

This was a personal project for the volunteers and the project curators, both sons of restaurant families, who wanted to see their community’s heritage given broader recognition.  Due to the positive response, the original plan to work with two restaurants expanded to 30, with the project collecting memories from 50 people representing the different roles in the industry.

"For me this is a story we all know from the Bangladeshi community but it’s not been told before. They were real pioneers. This isn’t just Birmingham’s story, it reflects around the country"

The three-month exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery used reconstructed rooms, memorabilia, photographs and reminiscences of the people who owned and worked in the restaurants.  Visitors enjoyed exploring the origins of ‘going out for a curry’ and the opportunity to glimpse behind the scenes of a familiar part of British culture.  For Bangladeshi audiences, it was a celebration of their heritage and cuisine - recognition of the hard work and challenges faced by earlier generations who settled in Britain, and their lasting contribution to British life.

For more details, see the project film and website.

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