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The permanent arrival of Sikhism in England is dated to 1850 A.D. with the arrival of Maharajah Duleep Singh (last ruler of the Sikh Empire). The first Sikh place of worship, called a Gurdwara, was opened in 1911 in London and this was partly funded by the Maharaja of Patiala.
At Census 2011 there were 420,196 Sikhs and in excess of 352 Gurudwaras in England with some of the largest communities in London, Gravesend, Birmingham, Bedford, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Bradford, Leeds, Derby, Nottingham and Glasgow. Leicester is also important having the largest Sikh community in the East Midlands and the eighth largest Sikh community in England. Leicester is also the home of the Guru Nanak Sikh Museum, the first such museum in the UK. As of 2011, the five English local authorities with the largest percentage of Sikhs are, in descending order, Slough (10.8%), Wolverhampton, Hounslow, Sandwell and Ealing.In 2019, the statue of Sikh soldier was unveiled in the West Yorkshire to commemorate the Sikhs martyrs in the World War I and World War II.
There are currently 13 Sikh Schools in England that teach the national curriculum alongside Sikh values. These schools are often oversubscribed and outperform regular schools, for example the Nishkam High School in Birmingham was recently rated by Ofsted as outstanding in every area. The Nishkam School Trust is also developing a sister school in West London, which is an area with a large Sikh community, which is due to open in September 2016.
The schools include:
Southall, in London, is home to the largest Sikh temple outside India, known as Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha. It opened in 2003 after almost three years construction and a cost of £17 million. Another large Gurdwara in Gravesend began construction in 2001, and was officially opened in November 2010 . In Sunderland, a former Church of England church has been transformed into a Sikh Gurdwara by the Sunderland Sikh Association.
Many cities, especially those with large Sikh communities, now have several Gurdwaras to cater to their growing congregations. For example, Bradford is a city that now has 6 Gurdwaras. Many Gurdwaras will have had other uses and have been converted from industrial buildings to even former churches that have closed down. Increasingly, Gurdwaras are being purposely built, The Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara in Bradford is an example of a purpose built Gurdwara.
In addition to Gurdwaras there are now a variety of additional organisations which have been setup by Sikhs to support the community:
Sikhs in England have managed to establish a range of media outlets to propagate and encourage dialogue between Sikhs across the country, predominantly in Punjabi, although increasingly media is produced in English to include the new generation. Many Sikhs still speak Punjabi as a first and second language. In England there are currently no less than 5 Sky channels including, Sikh Channel, Sikh TV, Akaal Channel, Sikh PA, and Sangat TV, all four are also broadcast worldwide and on the internet.
In radio there are numerous stations broadcast on analogue in areas with large Sikh communities as well as internationally on the Sky platform, since 2001 Sukh Sagar on Sky channel 0150 is one such station that was also the world's first 24-hour Gurbani (Sikh prayers) radio station.