City Hall (meeting point)
Join researcher and scholar, Asif Shakoor for an inspiring walk exploring British imperialism and migration – exploring the arrival of early South Asian seafarers at Royal Victoria Dock and the Royal Albert Dock in the London Borough of Newham. Asif will unearth invisible seafaring histories of Empire, touring unseen sites around Royal Victoria Dock and it’s vicinity.
Asif, a direct descendant of a First World War South Asian seafarer or ‘lascar’ لشکر , will tell the story of his grandfather, Mahomed Gama’s arrival on the SS Khiva at the Royal Victoria Dock in December 1917 and Asif’s subsequent search for his grandfather’s missing war medals.
This fascinating walk will explore the themes of death at sea, sickness, injury, tropical disease, desertion ‘jumping ship’, burial at sea, Seamens Rests, and early seafarer arrivals from Empire at Royal Victoria Dock and the Albert Dock Seamen’s Hospital during the period of 1889 to 1955.
Ever wondered what the ‘P&O Batti Wallahs Society’ was? The walk will also explore the etymology of the word ‘lascar’ لشکر. In this walk you will trace the term’s early usage to over one thousand years ago – never previously cited in any source in the English language.
The walk is supported by 200 years of original archival material that Asif has brought together for this walk. He will share a vast array of information and a new wealth of research – a droplet from an ocean of knowledge on seafaring.
Please note refreshments will be provided upon conclusion of this walk. Participants are advised to bring a water bottle.
Asif Shakoor, is an independent scholar. He is a community historian and authority on ‘lascar’ heritage. He grew up in Manor Park and studied at the University of East London. His grandfather, Mahomed Gama, enlisted in the Mercantile Marine during the Great War and arrived at the Royal Victoria Dock in 1917. Asif, wrote about his search for his grandfather’s war medal in Britain at War (January 2018). He is the author of an audio drama script commissioned by Arch 468 Theatre: ‘The Mystery of the Missing Medals’ (December 2020), about his search for his grandfather’s missing war medals. He was invited by the BBC to represent his grandfather at the Royal British Legion’s Festival of Rememberance, Royal Albert Hall (November 2018).
Asif, is the author of a forthcoming book: Unearthing Invisible Seafaring Histories of Empire. He is an author at Port Towns & Urban Cultures (PTUC) website, University of Portsmouth. He contributed research to the Maritime Archaeology Trust’s booklet on BAME seafarers in WWI. He also contributed research to participants at YATRA The Lascar Research Project, Our Shared Cultural Heritage (OSCH) programme at Glasgow Life Museums, Scotland. He has presented research at national conferences and local events. He has worked on a project to digitise Cooks Certificates for Indian seamen at the National Maritime Museum. He is an Associate Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, University College of London. In addition, Asif is an Advisory Board member of Mariners: Religion, race and empire in British ports, 1801-1914 project based at the University of Bristol, UK. Asif, is a steering group member of Newham Heritage Month. Asif, is founder of the South Asian Contribution to Great Britain project.
Image: Wiki Commons