2001 England riots

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2001 Oldham, Manningham and Harehills riots

Oldham: 26, 27 and 28 May 2001
Harehills: 5 June 2001

Manningham: 7 July 2001
Location Oldham, Manningham and Harehills

In 2001, three unrelated riots occurred in England, these happened in localised areas of Oldham in May, the Manningham district of Bradford in June and the Harehills district of Leeds in July - all within forty miles of each other in central northern England.

They were the most significant riots in England since September 1991, when riots broke out in Oxford, Dudley, Cardiff, Newcastle upon Tyne and Leeds.

Oldham Riots[edit]

In the year leading up to the riots, there were 572 reported race related crimes in the Oldham area, and in 62% of these, white persons were recorded as being the victims.[1] These figures alarmed both Asian and white communities, and led to the far-right British National Party announcing it would stand in the forthcoming general election, with its leader Nick Griffin to stand as a candidate for election for the constituency of Oldham West and Royton. The similarly far-right National Front political party also announced its interest in the town and intent to provide its own candidates for election too. In April 2001, a month before the riots began, an assault on 76-year-old Walter Chamberlain by three Asian youths was amongst the first major provocations which led to the riots. Mr. Chamberlain was approached as he walked to his home after watching a local amateur rugby league match. He was mugged and badly beaten, receiving fractured bones in the face amongst other injuries. His battered face appeared on the front of the Manchester Evening News, and the story spread to all the major national newspapers. In the Mail on Sunday, his story was told under the headline 'Whites beware'.

The riots took place on 26 May 2001, the unfolding events were as follows:

  • At 8 p.m., a fight between one South Asian youth and one white youth near the Good Taste chip shop on the corner of Salford Street and Roundthorn Road in Glodwick.[1] The fight, which was witnessed, and included racist language from both sides is said to have ended abruptly, but led to the hasty gathering of a gang of white youths assembled via mobile phone.
  • Following this earlier fight between the two youths, further violence erupted as a gang of white men attacked an Asian business and threw a projectile through a window of a house in the Glodwick area. Violence spiralled from this group as they rampaged through Glodwick attacking a number of persons and properties.
  • The "white-owned" Live and Let Live pub was targeted and pelted with bricks, stones, bottles and then petrol bombs. Cars were driven to block the fire exits, in an attempt to stop the patrons from escaping the flames. Cars in the surrounding roads were ignited, and police were called. Police officers were pelted by groups of South Asian males.

From these triggers on the night of 26 May 2001, a night of rioting ensued.

Harehills riots[edit]

On the night of 5 June 2001, the riots started behind a background of mistrust and racial tension. The trigger for the ensuing events was the arrest of Hossein Miah, by the West Yorkshire Police over a suspicious tax disc. Mr. Miah alleged that the arresting officer pulled him from his vehicle causing him injury. The officer concerned was cleared of any misconduct.[2] This led to sporadic unrest in the area around the early evening, but not until nightfall were there any definable riots.

At about 20:15 a hoax 999 call was made claiming a police officer had been hit by a petrol bomb.[3]

The police failed to locate the supposed attack but in attempting were lured into Bandstead Park where they were faced with a barricade of burning washing machines and furniture looted from a nearby second hand shop. By the time darkness had fallen the rioting had spread onto surrounding streets.

The rioting ended the following day.

Bradford riots[edit]

The Upper Globe pub following the riots.

Tensions rose after the National Front attempted to organise a march in the city which was banned by Home Secretary David Blunkett under the Public Order Act 1986. The Anti Nazi League organised a rally in Centenary Square in the centre of the city, which was allowed to proceed. During the course of the rally, a rumour was spread by some of the marchers that National Front sympathisers were gathering at a pub in the centre of Bradford. A confrontation then occurred outside the pub in the city centre during which a white man was stabbed.

The riot was estimated to have involved 1,000 youths.[4] On the nights of 8 and 9 July groups of between thirty and a hundred white youths attacked police and Asian-owned businesses, in the Ravenscliffe and Holmewood areas.[5] Initially there were 500 police being involved, but later reinforcements increased this to almost 1,000.[6] What began as a riot turned into a race-related disturbance, with targeting of businesses and cars, along with numerous attacks on shops and property. A notable point of the rioting was the firebombing of Manningham Labour Club, at the time a recreational centre. A 48-year-old Asian businessman was jailed for twelve years for the arson attack.[7]

The club reopened in the spring of 2006 on a different site, approximately one and a half miles away, on Bullroyd Lane, Four Lane Ends (The original site has now been redeveloped into a health and community centre and chemist). Between 60 and 100 youths of Asian ethnicity smashed windows and threw Molotov cocktails into the club until they were dispersed by riot police. Also the car garage on the top of White Abbey Road was affected, as cars were stolen and then driven towards the police. The most expensive act of the riot was the arson attack of a BMW dealership, which had previously been attacked in a 1995 disturbance.[5]

Since the riots there has been an exodus of car dealers in the area, with most now relocated to Canal Road and Sticker Lane.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "This has been building up for years", Guardian Unlimited, 28 May 2001, URL accessed 13 June 2006
  2. ^ "Officer cleared over riot arrest". BBC News. 2003-03-26. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  3. ^ "Wednesday, 6 June, 2001, 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK 'No excuse' for Leeds riot". BBC News. BBC. 6 June 2001. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  4. ^ "Bradford counts cost of riot". BBC News Online. 8 July 2001. Archived from the original on 3 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  5. ^ a b Bagguley, P. and Hussain, Y. (2008) Riotous Citizens: ethnic conflict in multicultural Britain, Aldershot, Ashgate.
  6. ^ Bagguley, P. and Hussain, Y. (2008) Riotous Citizens: ethnic conflict in multicultural Britain, Aldershot, Ashgate, page 58.
  7. ^ BBC: "Businessman jailed over Bradford riots"