Black Rights Activist Honoured With Blue Plaque at Pattinson Estate Agency's North Shields Branch


In alignment with Black History Month, Activist and Philanthropist Charles Udor Minto MBE was honoured in memory in the form of a plaque placed on the very building he used as a safe space for North Tyneside’s black community in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The unveiling of the plaque took place last Thursday at our North Shields branch of Pattinson Estate Agency.

The building was once known as Colonial House, and is located in North Shields’ historical Northumberland Square, and for the last 36 years has been owned by our company, Pattinson Estate Agents. We also have 26 branches spanning across the North East: some of our offices have interesting histories. This being one of them! 

Charles Minto was a Champion African boxer turned mariner who arrived in North Shields in 1932 where he became a significant figure in the fight for black rights.  He married a local lady and together they founded the ‘International Coloured Mutual Association’ whose aim was to create a safe space for North Tyneside’s black community, and to forge bonds between African and white people. 

Minto worked with unions, port officers, and employers to tackle prejudice, and the aim of the ICMA was to provide funds for the relief of members. The 2nd World War brought more African seamen to the area and Minto campaigned for the founding of a hostel to house them, and in 1942 opened Colonial House on Northumberland Place in North Shields. 

In 1949 Charles Minto was awarded an MBE for his community work in the North East, but despite this, Colonial House was forced to close in 1950, which came as a huge blow to Minto and the African community. In response, he was quoted stating that, ‘Colonial House belonged to my people and represented a bridge where white and coloured people could mix and create interracial friendships.’ 

Not only did ‘Colonial House’ provide accommodation for African seamen, but it also quickly became the centre of black life in North Shields.  With the help of his wife and daughter, Minto kept an active social schedule, and organised events such as, cinema screenings, dances, lectures, and concerts at Colonial House. There were games such as billiards, checkers, and dominoes to encourage team spirit and comradery between races. His legacy to build cultural, educational, and political organisations for African communities is being acknowledged and honoured through this remembrance plaque. 

Last Thursday, for the unveiling ceremony, we were very lucky with the weather, even getting a glimpse of sun, despite there being a storm just prior to the ceremony, and soon afterwards! A BBC reporter and cameras were in attendance, and we were featured on the North East news that day, as well as receiving a huge amount of press coverage. 

It is timely that here at Pattinson Estate Agency, we get to celebrate such a notable historic figure whilst simultaneously celebrating our ongoing success. We are still the top selling estate agency in the North East, and despite the current doom and gloom that many think is the current property climate, we have sold over more properties this month, compared with this time last year, and we consistently sell more properties than any other estate agency in the North East.   

After 46 successful years in the property business covering sales, lettings, auction, commercial and more, we continue to go from strength to strength, so there is always reason to celebrate!