North Shields Black Rights Activist and boxer honoured with town’s newest blue plaque

From left to right, Caroline Pattinson, Pattinson Estate Agents / Cllr Brian Burdis, Chair of North Tyneside Council/ Justine King, Show Racism The Red Card / David Young, North Shields Heritology Project / Siamak Zolfaghari, North Shields LibraryFrom left to right, Caroline Pattinson, Pattinson Estate Agents / Cllr Brian Burdis, Chair of North Tyneside Council/ Justine King, Show Racism The Red Card / David Young, North Shields Heritology Project / Siamak Zolfaghari, North Shields Library
From left to right, Caroline Pattinson, Pattinson Estate Agents / Cllr Brian Burdis, Chair of North Tyneside Council/ Justine King, Show Racism The Red Card / David Young, North Shields Heritology Project / Siamak Zolfaghari, North Shields Library | North Tyneside Council
The unveiling is part of Black History Month celebrations in North Tyneside.

Civil rights campaigner Charles Udor Minto MBE has been honoured with a blue plaque and an exhibition as part of Black History Month celebrations in North Tyneside.

Charles was a Nigerian middleweight boxing champion who fought to provide accommodation, community events, job opportunities and employment rights for the hundreds of black people who lived in North Shields in the 1930s and 1940s.

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The plaque was unveiled on Thursday, October 19, on Northumberland Place, North Shields, by chair of North Tyneside Council, Councillor Brian Burdis.

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Now used by Pattinson Estate Agents, the building was formerly Colonial House, a hostel and community centre that Charles Minto was instrumental in founding. 

North Shields Heritology Project has curated a display about Charles which is on display in the foyer of North Shields Customer First Centre throughout October, Black History Month.

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It describes how he came to live in North Shields in the 1920s with his wife, Mary, who he met and married in Liverpool.

He was a founder member and president of the Coloured National Mutual Association based in North Shields, and later set up the International Coloured Mutual Aid Association in the town.

There were more than 500 black people living in North Shields at the time, mostly of Caribbean and West African descent, including around 300 children.

When 300 West Indian and African seamen were stranded in North Shields at the outbreak of war in 1939, Charles Minto pushed the government to support a new hostel for them.

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Minto was awarded an MBE in the 1949 New Year’s Honours list.

Mayor of North Tyneside Dame Norma Redfearn DBE said: “It is our privilege as a council to install a blue plaque to remember such an important figure in the history of North Tyneside in the 20th Century.

“Charles Minto fought tirelessly for the rights and welfare of the black community in North Shields.”

David Young of North Shields Heritology Project said: “I never met Charles Minto but I felt an immediate connection to him when I first came across his story.  Like his family, mine lived on Clive Street on the low road and then moved up to the Ridges Estate during the slum clearances in the 1930s.

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“His story is one of determination and resolve. No doubt he overcame many obstacles and hardships throughout his life.

“I think the skills he learned as a champion boxer he adapted well to help achieve his ambitions for the black community of North Shields.”

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