Cotton, Curry and Commerce in Oldham

Cotton, Curry and Commerce was a two-year collaborative oral history project between the Asian Business Association and Oldham Local Studies and Archives to celebrate the contribution made by Asian businesses to the economy of Oldham. The project was initially supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, with further support and funding from the Oldham Business Leaders Group.

In 2012 researcher Mandeep Samra made oral history recordings which were saved onto 24 CDs. Former Oldham Chamber of Commerce chief executive Ed Stacey wrote a book titled ‘Cotton, Curry and Commerce’ recording the experiences from post war Britain to the present day.

The interviews record different generations sharing their stories, their drive to provide for their families; from the early settlers arriving in the 1960s to those born in Oldham. People talk about finding work and using their entrepreneurial spirit to start businesses for themselves. Over time we hear how these businesses grew and evolved to employ family members and support the growing communities from Pakistan and India. Other interviews from the collection look at business support available at the time and how this developed to become more relevant to increasing numbers of businessmen and women.


The full-length interviews will be available at Oldham Local Studies and Archives in due course. You can read the full descriptions online at the British Library’s Sound and Moving Image catalogue. The British Library collection reference is UAP011. The local reference is M185.

The Cotton, Curry and Commerce project website hosts a video about the project featuring clips from the interviews. Additionally, the records of the Asian Business Association are held at Oldham Local Studies and Archives (ref M166).

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