On This Day

In this section, we remember significant achievements and moments from Black and Asian history

January 1950

21 January 1950 -Birth of Billy Ocean, singer. He was the most popular British R&B singer-songwriter of the early to mid-1980s after scoring his first four UK Top 20 successes. See Hall of Fame for Biography 


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January 2019

20 January 2019 -Have you got an entry we should dedicate to On This Day in UK Black & Asian History ? If so please send to info@ourheritage.tv 

January 1999

19 January 1999 - Roger Sylvester 31, was a mentally ill man who died after being detained outside his home in Tottenham, London, by eight Metropolitan police officers. It was reported that his neighbours had complained to police of a disturbance after Sylvester had started banging on his own front door, naked.

Police detained Sylvester under the Mental Health Act, then took him to St Ann's Hospital, Haringey, where he fell into a coma while being restrained on the floor of a padded room by six officers while being assessed by medical staff. He died at Whittington Hospital, Islington, 8 days later without regaining consciousness.

In 2003, an inquest heard that Sylvester, who suffered from bipolar disorder, had died of serious brain damage and cardiac arrest, caused by difficulty breathing because of the position he was held in. A jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing in October 2003.

The eight officers who had taken Sylvester into custody appealed to the High Court against what they called an "irrational" ruling, and the verdict was overturned in November 2004.

In 1999, forensic pathologist Dr Freddy Patel was reprimanded by the General Medical Council (GMC) for releasing medical details about Roger Sylvester to reporters outside an inquest hearing, Patel told reporters that Sylvester was a crack cocaine user, something his family denied.

18 January 1981

18 January 1981 - The New Cross house fire occurs during a party at a house in New Cross, south-east London, in the early hours of Sunday, 18 January 1981. 

The blaze killed 13 young black people; one survivor committed suicide two years later. Nobody has ever been charged in connection to the fire, which forensic science subsequently established was started from inside the house, either by accident or deliberately. The party was a joint birthday celebration for Yvonne Ruddock (one of the victims of the fire) and Angela Jackson (who survived) and was held at No. 439, New Cross Road. 

It began on the evening of Saturday, 17 January 1981 and continued throughout the night and into the early hours of Sunday. At the time, there was a fairly high degree of racial tension in the area and far-right groups including the National Front were active in the local area. There had also been some early complaints from neighbours about excessive noise from the party .

The initial police suspicion was that the party had been fire-bombed, either as a revenge attack or in an attempt to stop the noise; there was also an alternative theory that a fight had broken out, from which the blaze emanated. Subsequent forensic investigation found that the fire had started by an armchair inside the front-room of the property at 5:40am on Sunday morning and police ruled out the theory that a fight had taken place. See Timeline 13 May 1981. 

January 2019

17 January 2019 -Have you got an entry we should dedicate to On This Day in UK Black & Asian History ? If so please send to info@ourheritage.tv 

January 1997

16 January 1997 - Jean-Baptiste receives a  Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actress nominations for her performance in Secrets & Lies (1996), becoming the first black British actress to be nominated for an Academy Award

15 January 1987

15 January 1987 – A policeman is cleared of criminal charges in relation to the shooting of Cherry Grose. The decision sparks a mini riot in Brixton. The shooting happened when Inspector Douglas Lovelock led a police raid on a house in Brixton in September 1985 looking for Michael Groce, a man they had been told could be armed. He was not at home, but in the confusion, his mother, Cherry Groce, was shot in the chest. She is now paralysed from the waist down. Inspector Lovelock told the court it was a "terrible, terrible accident", which he would regret for the rest of his life.

January 2018

14 January 2018 - Former Coventry,Aston Villa,West Brom,Wolves, Wycombe, Chester and England International , Cyrille Regis MBE dies suddenly from a heart attack aged 59. See Hall of Fame for full biography.

January 1975

13 January 1975 - Bunny Johnson knocks out Northern Ireland's Danny McAlinden  in the 9th Round to become the  first Black Heavyweight Champion of Great Britain. See Hall of Fame for more on Bunny Johnson.

January 1966

12 January 1966 - Joseph Hunte’s report, Nigger Hunting in England? is published  by the Commonwealth Institute. After documenting the ready use of dogs against black people and the frequent instances of overt racialist abuse, Hunte wrote that ‘it has been confirmed from reliable sources that sergeants and constables do leave police stations with the express purpose of going nigger-hunting.’ 

January 2016

11 January 2016 - London firefighters  form a guard of honour at the funeral of London's first post-war black firefighter Frank Arthur Bailey who died, aged 90. See Hall of Fame for biography. 

January 1995

 10 January 1995 - Andy  Cole suddenly sold in a shock deal to Manchester United for a deal worth £7 million – £6 million cash plus £1 million-rated Keith Gillespie going in the opposite direction, setting a new record for the most expensive British transfer.

January 2015

9 January 2015 -Abu Hamza, the former head of London's Finsbury Park mosque who preached Islamic terrorism, is sentenced to life in prison by a US court.

January 2014

8 January 2014 – an inquest jury decides that Mark Duggan, whose death sparked the 2011 England riots was lawfully killed by polic

January 1983

7 January 1983- Channel 4 Broadcast first ever Black Comedy Sitcom 'No Problem' which was to run between 1983 and 1985. As well as being Channel Four's first UK black sitcom it was also their first British-made sitcom. Its cast were members of the Black Theatre Co-operative which staged plays and included Judith Jacob and Victor Romero Evans.Set in Willesden Green, it was about the grown up Powell children after their parents had returned to Jamaica. The comedy dealt with their lives and ambitions from modelling to running a pirate radio station.

January 2006

6 January 2006 -Ms Dynamite is  charged with assaulting a police officer and disorderly conduct. The singer allegedly punched a female officer in the face, bruising her nose, while in custody. She had been arrested after allegedly kicking the door to the Paragon Lounge night-club in London and was said to have been abusive towards officers who questioned her.

January 2004

5 January 2004Michael Fuller, becomes  the first ethnic minority chief constable in the United Kingdom and the first black officer of chief constable-equivalent rank.Fuller took up his role as Chief Constable of Kent 

January 1986

4 January 1986 - Phil Lynott, the former lead singer of the rock band Thin Lizzy, dies from heart failure and pneumonia after an 11-day fight for his life. See Hall of Fame for Biogrpahy.


January 1997

3 January 1997 - The Daily Telegraph carries an Obitutary for Gyani Sundar Singh Sagar (3 June 1917 – 25 December 1996), commonly known as Gyani Ji, was a Sikh scholar and social activist. He dedicated his life to various campaigns for Sikh rights to be recognised and respected in the UK. See Hall of Fame for full biograpy.

January 2019

2 January 2019 -Have you got an entry we should dedicate to On This Day in UK Black & Asian History ? If so please send to info@ourheritage.tv 

January 1969

1st January 1969 Learie Nicholas Constantine, international cricketer, former member of the BBC Board of Governors and leading civil rights activist becomes the first black person to join the House of Lords when he is invested as Baron Constantine, of Maraval and Nelson.

December 2017

31 December 2017- Four young men were killed in stabbing incidents in London amid New Year celebrations, the Met Police report. Three were stabbed on New Year's Eve and a fourth in the early hours of New Year's Day in unrelated incidents.

Another young man stabbed on New Year's Day is in a critical condition in hospital. Five men have been arrested over the death of an 18-year-old in Larmans Road, Enfield. No other arrests have been made.

In the other attacks, a 20-year-old man was fatally stabbed in Memorial Avenue, West Ham, and a 17-year-old boy was killed in Norwood Road, Tulse Hill, on New Year's Eve. Early on New Year's Day, a 20-year-old man was fatally wounded in Bartholomew Court, Old Street. A second man in his 20s suffered critical stab injuries in the same incident.

The fatalities in the final hours of 2017 took the number of people stabbed to death in the capital last year to 80, the Met said.

With thanks to the BBC for the above information.

December 2012

30 December 2012 - A year-long festival to commemorate Samuel Coleridge-Taylor ended with the unveiling of a blue plaque at 6 St Leonards Road, the house where he died on September 1 1912. See Hall of Fame Section section for full biography 

December 2001

29 December 2001 - Panchadcharam Sahitharan, a Tamil refugee  (28) in Newham, east London attacked by gang with baseball bats and dies.

 Andrew Noble and Gary Hoskin charged with murder and affray in April 2002. Charges later dropped against Noble, Hoskin acquitted with the jury ruling accidental death.  

December 2018

28 December  - Have you got an entry we should dedicate to On This Day in UK Black & Asian History ? If so please send to info@ourheritage.tv