Blue plaque honour for North Shields boxer and civil rights campaigner

A blue plaque has been unveiled for civil rights campaigner Charles Minto. Credit: PA

A boxer and civil rights campaigner who fought for black people’s rights has been honoured with a blue plaque and an exhibition of his works.

Nigerian middleweight Charles Udor Minto MBE worked on Tyneside 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.

A plaque was unveiled at 3 Northumberland Place, North Shields, by North Tyneside Council chairman Brian Burdis in what was once Colonial House – a hostel and community centre that Mr Minto was instrumental in founding.

Charles Minto was president of the Coloured National Mutual Association in North Shields Credit: North Tyneside Council/PA

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

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 the war in 1939, Mr Minto pushed the government to support a new hostel for them.

Colonial House, now an estate agents, was opened in 1942 by future prime minister Harold Macmillan, who was then parliamentary under-secretary for the colonies.

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

Elected 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.

“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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