Jerome Chew A Tow was born in British Guiana in the late 1930s and came to the UK when he was 18 years old on a British CUKC passport. 

In 1972 on hearing that his mother was ill, Jerome decided to travel to Guyana.  He had been settled in the UK for 17 years without need of travel and so had to apply for a new British passport.  He was left surprised when the Home Office refused his application.  He notes that he was luckily able to get a Guyanese passport within 5 days from the then High Commissioner of Guyana, Sir John Carter but goes on to point out that he never doubted he was British.  His wife had worked in Parliament for the Deputy Speaker and Labour MP for Dartford, Sydney Irving (1918-1989) and had even attended his daughter’s wedding.  He had met Harold Wilson and his wife was a close friend of Harold’s wife, Mary.  This part of the interview is shared in the excerpt below.

 In a later segment of the interview he talked about how he had travelled (relatively recently) to Ghana to visit a friend and had, on return, his valid British passport confiscated by an immigration officer.  The immigration officer suspected that the passport was fake because the his Chinese name did not appear to correspond with his African appearance.  While the Home Office eventually accepted that the passport was genuine, Chew-A-Tow explains that he was told to apply for a new one, the original one having been destroyed during the security check.

This interview took place in Chew-A-Tow’s home on 31 March 2022.  He assigned copyright and performing rights in this interview to the University of London.

Interview by Juanita Cox

Jerome Chew A Tow Interview

KEYWORDS: Harold Wilson, Sir John Carter, Sydney Irving, Guyana, Passport, Labour Party, 1972, Petty France.

Interview Keywords: Jerome Chew A Tow

“I didn’t chose to be British, and that is how it is”.  “I have always been British orientated”.  Chew-A-Tow laughs at the irony that his children see themselves as Guyanese: “They don’t see themselves as English.  But they are English.  They are bloody well born here.” [Quote from 19:06 mins]

Photo Copyright: Juanita Cox

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