Raja Ram

Photo:Raja Ram

Raja Ram

Private Collection

Photo:Raja on the Hose Tower

Raja on the Hose Tower

Private Collection

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Raja Ram' page

Bevin Boy, Miner & Trick Cyclist

By Pauline Marples

With acknowledgement to Iris Ram.

There are still many people in and around Forest Town who remember Raja Ram, and while they don’t immediately tell you he worked at ‘Crownie’ (Mansfield Colliery) they do remember him with fondness and recall Raja was a trick cyclist, also that he cut peoples hair and toe nails.

Early Life

Very few people know of the difficult years of Raja's early life.

Raja Ram was born in India in 1913. He ran way from home at a very early age (to escape an arranged marriage) and joined a circus. In 1937 he and others were brought to England to work as entertainers in theatres. The man who brought them to England kept their passports using them to bring other people to England.

The English weather was very different to what Raja was used to, he could not speak English, and it was a lonely life. The troupe first performed in Blackpool and then Skegness. Raja was noted for performing many amazing and daring tricks on a bicycle.

Romance

It was in Skegness that Raja first met Iris, the girl that was later to become his wife. Iris lived in Skegness. Their friendship grew but in those early months/years it was very difficult time for them both, not only was their a language barrier but Iris dare not let her parents know she was associating with a coloured boy, in those days it was not accepted. Love however conquers all and eventually Iris and Raja were married and started to raise a family. They lived in Skegness.

Employment

Finding employment was difficult for Raja and the war years brought even more difficulties for the young couple. Raja applied to join the navy and was told he was to old, he was only twenty-six! He then joined the Auxiliary Fire Service where he eventually gained the respect of his colleagues when as a dare, he did cycling tricks on the top of the Hose Tower.

Bevin Boy

In 1944 life changed again for Raja and his family, he was sent as a Bevin Boy to work in the Nottinghamshire coal fields. Raja stayed in Miners Hostels in the Mansfield area including the Forest Town Hostel. His wife and young family continued to live in Skegness.

Such was Raja’s love for his family that he travelled back to Skegness each weekend to see them, on his motorbike. He had some very difficult journeys in some very inclement weather. The couple could not afford to buy a house and had to wait nine long years before the council provided them with a council house, they believed prejudice had a lot to do with this.

A House in Forest Town

Their new home was in Forest Town and it was a joy for the family to be together again. Raja and Iris spent many happy years watching their children grow up and eventually grandchildren being born. Sadly Raja died in 1980.

Book

Iris has since recorded this both sad and wonderful story in a book for her family, it is something for them all to treasure.

Iris still lives in Forest Town and will smile as she recalls that to all local people, Raja was always known as Raja, but she was always Mrs Ram.

This page was added on 27/08/2009.
Comments about this page

My father knew Raja when we lived in Kelvin Close Newlands Estate, Forest Town from 1964 to 1968, he also worked at crown farm pit. I remember as a young boy (now 51) seeing Raja cycle up the path then proceed to do a front flip over the handlebars, this was my que to leg it! knowing that a short back and sides was iminent however I never got very far and after a friendly clip round the ear Raja would set to, clippers at the ready. Sadly my father (Ernie) also died in 1981.

I stumbled upon this site by accident however I am very pleased that I did, it has brought back a lot of fond memories. We moved to Nottingham from County Durham in 1964 and returned to Durham in 1969, which is where I now live with a family of my own.

Michael Taylor Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

By michael taylor
On 06/02/2010

It was very rewarding to read of someone who knew Raj when he was alive. I was most interested in your comments and it brought back memories and I can remember Raj coming to your house to cut your hair. I did not know you had a clip round the ear as Raj did not tell me that.

By Iris Ram
On 24/05/2010

Hello Iris thank you for your comments, from what I remember Raja was a real good man.

By michael taylor
On 01/06/2010

I knew Raja when we both worked at the pit and he used to come cut my hair at my home and sit with me and my wife and have cup of tea and biscuit. I am 84.

By Arthur Wright
On 13/07/2010

I do have memories also of Raji coming to our house to cut my Dad and Brothers hair, he came across on his bike, I know my Dad (Jimmy Blanche) used to talk to him alot.It was so nice to see him on this site.

By Alice Green (Blanche)
On 04/08/2010

I lived on the same estate as Raja, he used to go around and cut peoples hair with his clipper's, he was quite a character

By Dave John hibbert
On 24/09/2010

Thank you everyone sharing there memories of my Grandad, I also remember him cycling around and cutting hair, whenever I read about him or recall memories it makes me smile all your comments made me proud to know you are all commenting on my Grandad x still miss you Grandad xx

By Lynda Thomas
On 13/09/2011

I can remember Raja but I always knew him as Mr Ram. He was a lovely man.

By Carol Barson nee Bramley
On 28/04/2013

I remember Raja Ram very well as he used to cut my hair when I was very young. I think my father and Raja used to work at Crownie together. He lived I believe on Coronation Drive Forest Town just across the road from my parents Jack & Mary Elliott. I have very fond memories of Raja he was well respected by my parents

By John Elliott
On 05/01/2014

I hope I get a reply from Mrs Iris Ram and family.

As I am researching on Indian Bevin Boys, I came across Rajaram's name. I wish to know which Indian language he spoke. I believe there were few more Indians who were sent to mines as Bevin Boys. I am trying to locate their names. I shall be happy for any pointers in this direction.

This site is a wonderful discovery for me.

By Sudha
On 14/05/2014

My father, Leon, who also worked at Mansfield Colliery knew Raja very well.   I remember when I was away from home as a student my dad gave Raja my bike as Raja's had broken and he needed one to get to work. I was annoyed for a moment but his need was greater than mine.

By Robert Rawlinson
On 13/12/2016

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