BCLM Celebrates Migration Stories During Jubilee

As part of our May half term Jubilee activities, we’re celebrating migration to the region, exploring stories of people in the South Asian community who migrated to the Black Country during the 1950s. 

Our Bostin’ Jubilee Bash celebration promises visitors a week of ‘Right Royal Fun’ with the opportunity to dress up in red, white and blue, take part in a street party and meet a whole host of new and exciting characters. To tie in with the time period in which Queen Elizabeth II had her coronation, as well the BCLM: Forging Ahead development, the Museum is bringing parts of the visitor experience forward in time to the 1950s. This includes the opportunity for visitors to take part in a 1950’s school lesson where they can learn more about the flags of the Commonwealth. Visitors will also be able to stop by Gripton’s radio shop – which has also been brought into the 1950s, allowing it to tell stories of when telly sales boomed in time for that all-important Coronation broadcast on the BBC.

Bringing elements of the Museum experience further forward in time has allowed us to expand our programme of characters, including the addition of Mr Praveen Singh, a character based in part on the memories of Mr Piara Singh, who migrated to Wolverhampton from India at 18 years of age in 1951. 

When asked about both his migration, and the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, Mr Piara Singh said: “Now at 91 years of age, I am – like the Queen – a great grandparent. I appreciate everything that I have managed to achieve and also feel very blessed. I have followed Queen Elizabeth’s life along the way, and although she was born into royalty, she has endured some very difficult times with family grief and loss. Although our respective lives are worlds apart, after nine decades, we are both here to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee. Long Live the pair of us.”. 

The Museum’s latest character, Mr Singh, is a part of the community preparing for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and plays a pivotal role in the Museum beginning to tell stories of migration to the UK in the 1950s and 60s. To support the development of this character, BCLM have collaborated alongside actor and creator Vimal Korpal, who has workshopped both the character of Mr Singh and the situations the character will be placed in, with the staff in our team of historic characters who will be portraying the role or playing alongside it.

When asked about the Museum’s Jubilee programme, as well as using the Forging Ahead Development as a stepping-stone to tell wider and more diverse stories, Korpal said “For me it’s really exciting that it’s all about diversity and inclusion. There are so many great stories out there and it’s wonderful to be involved and to have a story that relates to India, especially being of Indian background myself. It’s great to explore and share the influences the Indian community had on the British public back in the 1950s, especially as the themes and stories are still relevant today.”

Korpal continues: “I’m hoping to share that now, as then, we’ve got more in common and less that divides us. There are little differences, but we should learn to celebrate them. It’s great to be involved (in the project), and if this is a stepping-stone for even more stories then how wonderful is that. If you look at Britain today, it’s made of so many communities and so much diversity, and it’s great that that’s being reflected here.”

Vimal Korpal workshops the role of Mr Singh and the interactions he may have with visitors or other historic characters.