History of Ramgarhia Board Leeds
The Sikhs arrived in Leeds in the 1950s. The majority of them were Ramgarhias from Punjab and later from East Africa. The Ramgarhias have remarkable skills and experience in the building community facilities. S Balwant S Birdi, Piara S Chagger, Ajit S Bansal along with other members of the Sikh community built the first Sikh Gurdwara in Leeds in 1958 at 3 Saville place, Leeds 7. As the Sikh population grew they bought a bigger place, a then boarded up Methodist church building at 281a Chapeltown Road Leeds 7 and converted it to a spacious Gurdwara in 1960.
The Ramgarhia community in Leeds aspired to build their own place as well. So the pioneer members of the Ramgarhia community Sardar Balwant Singh Birdi along with Giani Kesar S Rehal, Dalip S Sohal, Piara S Chagger, Mohan S Sound, Amar S Sohanpal, Vir S Rayat, Daljit S Sound, Udam S Sian, Surinder S Saimbhi, Gurdev S Seehra, Ajit S Bansal, Sohan S Seehra, Avtar S Matharu, Bhajan S Sound, Sunder Singh, Gajjan S Dahele, Nanak S Bhogal, Chain S Bachu, Kesar S Panesar, Naranjan S Seehra and others helped form Ramgarhia Board Leeds. In 1966 the board purchased a doctor’s surgery for £5000 at 138 Chapeltown Road, Leeds 7to build a hall to meet the social and cultural needs of the community. The opening of the building was performed by Giani Kesar Singh Rehal.
In 1976 the Ramgarhia community in Leeds decided to form a national body of Ramgarhia Sikhs. S Bawant Singh Birdi gathered prominent members of the Ramgarhia community from all over the country and formed the Ramgarhia Council for UK. The first meeting of the Council was held in Leeds under the chairmanship of S. Balwant Singh Birdi.
In 1980, the Ramgarhia Board Hall at 138 Chapeltown Road was registered as a Gurdwara, a Place of worship and for solemnising weddings. Due to the growth of the community over the years this building was not big enough to accommodate their needs. Ramgarhia Board members embarked upon to acquire a bigger place. In 1982 the Board purchased the site at Sheepscar with the assistance of Gurdev Singh Dahele, Bakshish Singh Chana, Amrik S Sohal and Parminder S Ryatt to build a sports and community centre for the youth and the elderly.
Sant Baba Puran Singh Kerichowale visited the site. After the hugely successful Baisakhi festival celebrated, in form of Sri Akhand Path Sahib, performed by Guru Nanak Niskam Sewa Jatha- GNNSJ, in marquees on the new site. The work on the sports and community centre complex started in May 1984.
In the same year Chain Singh Bachu, Bakshish Singh Chana and Mohinder Singh Ubhi helped to acquire the Royal Mail’s sorting office at 8/10 Chapeltown Road adjoining the Sheepscar Site. This was immediately renovated and the Gurdwara at 138 Chapeltown Road was moved to 8/10 Chapeltown Road. Later an extension was built to create a foyer in the Gurdwara building.
Gurdev S Dahele along with others raised funds from the public sector like, then Manpower Services Comission, Sports Council and Leeds City Council to cover part of the building cost. The remaining costs were donated generously by the community in Leeds, UK and East Africa. Sincere Gratitude goes to the whole project team and selfless volunteers for their efforts and total commitment and dedication to the project.
On completion in May 1987 it had a Royal opening by HRH the Duke of Gloucester and in the following year Prince Charles visited the centre as it was the first of its kind in the whole country, totally built by an ethnic minority community.