Recognising the need, members of the Sikh community in Hounslow formed Sri Guru
Singh Sabha in 1978 with Mohinder Singh Bal as its first president. Very soon after,
he was followed by Ranjit Singh who presided over its establishment and progress
until 1998. Gurcharan Singh Chatwal presided from 1999 to 2005, from when the reins
of Presidency were passed on to Jagjiwan Singh.
During the institutions relatively short life, somewhat smooth development was rocked
by a difficult period in 1998. However, with the local Sikh community’s undying
faith and wholehearted support, the institution successfully negotiated this dark
period. With guidance from the Charity Commissioners, a new Constitution was drawn
up in March 1999, publicized locally within the community and unanimously adopted.
Gurcharan Singh Chatwal presiding under the new Constitution oversaw proceedings
during the difficult transition period.
Perhaps more importantly, between 1999 and 2005, Gurdwara became more involved in
local community’s welfare and voluntary needs, bringing many of the much needed
services to the Gurdwara, benefiting the locals and West London Sikhs in particular.
Following the formation of Sri Guru Singh Sabha in 1978, initially the local Sikhs
congregated weekly during weekends in hired premises, most regularly at Hounslow
Heath Junior School on Cambridge Road in Hounslow.
Subsequently, through the determined efforts of many individuals like Ranjit Singh,
Jagjiwan Singh, Piara Singh Aulakh and particularly Kartar Singh Neiyyar, the present
site was acquired. The property was converted and refurbished for use as a Gurdwara
(Sikh place worship). One of the two existing huts on the acquired site was converted
for religious services and the second for Langar (free community kitchen).
Having obtained a permanent site for Sikh religious functions, the place became
a focal point for the local Sikh community and soon also for the surrounding areas,
with resulting congregation size growth. It soon became clear that the existing
huts were inadequate to meet the growing expectations. As a result, through Sikh
congregations generosity and plenty of goodwill from the neighboring residents,
additional adjoining land was bought followed by a brand new Gurdwara being built
in 1992 (Phase 1), under design and construct arrangements, the first of its kind
in the UK.
Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha continued to grow and establish itself within the
local community. With noble foresight, attempts were made to set Gurdwara Sri Guru
Singh Sabha as a traditional Sikh institution, a complex that accorded with Sikh
Guru’s original concept for community based Gurdwara - a religious centre that aimed
to deliver on religious, educational, cultural, welfare, humanitarian, social and
sporting needs of the community. In this respect, many services had been introduced,
thus living up to its image of being “a progressive Sikh institution”
With West London’s Sikh population on the increase, demands and expectations upon
the Gurdwara had continued to grow, leading to continuous review of its services
provision. To cope with such demands, additional volunteers from the congregation
had continued to be sought, particularly with specialised skills.
In accordance with Sikh ethos, the Gurdwara has benefited from the Sikh community’s
continued financial support, their skills and valuable time to ensure that the Gurdwara
continuously offered freely many of the much needed advice services at the Gurdwara.
Following review of services provision, resources and existing accommodation availability,
Phase 2 Development was planned, with construction work starting in June 2003, to
provide additional prayer hall; Langar facilities (free community kitchen); classrooms
(for Panjabi classes for the young and adults leading to GCSE and ‘A’ level; English
classes for adults (ESOL) in partnership with West Thames College; Religious Education
(Sikhism) leading to GCSE; and keertan (Sikh Shabads to traditional religious music);
library with IT facilities and Exhibition hall. Additional accommodation would also
enable Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha to provide further much-needed services to
the local community.
Sikh residents from the London Borough’s of Hounslow, Hillingdon, Richmond, Spelthorne
Borough and the Royal Borough of Kingston make up most of the congregation and deserve
all the plaudits for funding these developments.
It needs to be recognized that following the formation of Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh
Sabha in 1978, it has been the generosity within the Sikh Community Gurdwara that
has helped the Gurdwara to expand, acquiring a healthy estate upon which many new
facilities have been constructed to meet religious, educational, welfare / social
and sporting needs. It is important to further reiterate that in expanding and developing
the Gurdwara estate, no public funds, loans or grants had been used. All funds spent
have come from the Sikh community.
To illustrate the development of the Gurdwara Estate, set out on a table on the
following page, in chronological order are some critical events and activities which
impacted upon and gave rise to the estate expansion.