By Mark McConville
STUNNING RETRO pictures have revealed the Stepney night school where people of all ages and backgrounds attended in the 1950s.
The incredible images show a man and woman sitting in a classroom with handwriting examples written in chalk on the blackboard, mothers taking their children along to dressmaking classes and elderly men and women listening to a lecture.
Other striking shots show a young, smartly-dressed immigrant sitting in a class, another sitting in a suit and tie studying at a desk and a group of smartly-dressed immigrant students studying at the night school.
The remarkable black and white photographs were taken at an Evening Institute in Stepney, East London in July 1952 when evening classes and night school was taking place.
The images of the black immigrants highlight the influx of immigrants in post-war Britain when it was quickly recognised that the reconstruction of the British economy required a large influx of immigrant labour.
The Royal Commission on Population reported in 1949 that immigrants of ‘good stock’ would be welcomed ‘without reserve’, and potential newcomers from the Caribbean and elsewhere soon became aware of the pressing needs of the labour market in the UK.
The appeal for new workers was, however, aimed primarily at white Europeans, who had dominated immigration to Britain during the century before the Second World War and still played an important role after 1945.
Post-war immigration also attracted, for the first time, large numbers of workers and their families from outside Europe – mainly from the Caribbean and from India and Pakistan, the two separate states created by ‘partition’ after Britain relinquished its Indian empire in 1947. During the 1950s, in particular, Britain’s non-white immigrant population increased rapidly in size.