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Raleigh's 1930s Nottingham head office becomes England's 400,000th listed site

Grade II listing for office of what was once the world's biggest bike manufacturer which also has special place in city's social history...

Raleigh’s former head office in Nottingham has become the 400,000th site to be entered on Historic England’s National Heritage List.

Built in 1931 at a time when Raleigh was the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world, with 1 million bikes produced annually, the building has been Grade II listed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Originally known as the Howitt Building, Raleigh’s one-time headquarters also has strong links to the social history of Nottingham as the city’s major employer at the time as well as to its  Afro-Caribbean community.

During the 1950s, Raleigh – in common with many other employers of the time – operated a discriminatory recruitment policy and would not employ black workers.

Racial equality campaigner Oswald George Powe, a leading figure in Nottingham’s Afro-Caribbean community, resolved to persuade the company to change its stance.

With his overtures to the company rebuffed, he wrote to Norman Manley, who in 1959 had become the first Premier of the newly independent Jamaica.

Manley ordered a boycott of imports to Jamaica from the British bicycle industry, and in response, Raleigh changed its policy – leading the company to become one of the major employers of black people in Nottingham.

The building retains a Caribbean connection today. Now called the Lenton Business Centre, it also houses the Marcus Garvey Centre and Marcus Garvey Ballroom, both named after the Jamaican activist, journalist and poet.

Besides buildings, the National Heritage List also comprises monuments, battlefields, shipwrecks, designed landscapes and World Heritage Sites,

Historic England’s Chief Executive, Duncan Wilson, said: “The List is a treasure trove of special historic places that demonstrates the rich variety of England’s history.

"Reaching 400,000 entries is a milestone – it confirms just how important our heritage is and how much deserves protecting for future generations.”

Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, commented: “The National Heritage List for England tells the story of our past, and the people, places and events that shaped it.

"This landmark highlights the huge diversity of historic places that we have protected and the integral role heritage plays in our culture."

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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