Birmingham Black Oral History Project R1154 Oral History Interview – Frank Scantlebury 30/08/1991 Interviewee: Frank Scantlebury Interviewer: Doreen Price
This is an oral history interview with Frank Scantlebury, recorded in 1991, as part of the Birmingham Black Oral History Project (BBOHP), discussing his life in Barbados and the UK.
Frank was raised by his grandparents in Barbados, though his parents and siblings lived close by. He left Barbados on 16th June 1955 at just 18 years old. He initially lived in Bath and began working for a signage company. He enjoyed the city and his job, though did experience racism in the workplace.
Frank moved to Saltley, Birmingham, in the 1960s and began work for British Rail, first as a signalman and later as a guard. He also spent time working at the BSA factory making motorbikes, a job he really enjoyed. He was married, later divorced, and had a son and a daughter.
These recordings include racially explicit content, including discussions of racism, prejudice and violence; and language and phrasing that we would not use today. Some of this content might be unsuitable for younger listeners or triggering for People of Colour. We recommend reading the description for each track before choosing to listen.
Track 1 Identity Frank talks about identifying as British, feeling homesick when he first arrived in England. He also talks about the first time he experienced snow.
Track 2 English weather Frank continues to talk about his first experience of snow, he also recalls an experience when he fell over in the snow. He talks about the novelty of seeing fires/fireplaces in homes in England which were not needed in Caribbean due to the warm weather.
Track 3 Houses/homes Frank continues to talk about heating and talks about the difference between homes in Barbados and England. He also talks about the improvement to his health.
Track 4 The future Frank discusses his thoughts on the future, about 'peace and understanding', and about his Christian faith.
Track 5 Christian faith Frank continues to share his thoughts on the future within the context of his faith.
Track 6 Working life Frank discusses the racism he experienced when he first came to England in 1955, how many of his white colleges met people from the Caribbean during the second world war.
Track 7 Racism Frank continues to discuss racism during the 1950s and how attitudes changed towards Black people in England after the war.
Track 8 Racism Frank discusses the discrimination he and his friends experienced on the street, as well as mixed-race friendships, particularly with women. Frank also talks about discrimination he experienced attending Anglican Church in London.
Track 9 Discrimination in the Church Frank continues to describe discrimination he experienced attending an Anglican Church. He talks about people starting their own churches.
Track 10 Discrimination in the Church Frank talks about attending a Methodist Church in Birmingham where Black people were separated from the main congregation as it was believed they couldn't understand their form of worship.