CHAPATIS cooking on a hot clothes iron and shift workers taking turns to use the same bed are just some of the memories of Worcestershire's Asian community which a new project is aiming to preserve.

The county's Racial Equality Council has launched a year-long scheme to create a record of the experiences of Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani groups in the region over the decades.

The chief executive of the equality council, Dr Mohammed Aslam, said the £50,000 project, funded by the National Heritage Fund, was to create an illustrated book.

"We want to find Asian families' lived experiences as new arrivals and the roles they undertook in their social and economic lives in Worcestershire," said Dr Aslam.

The team has already collected many anecdotes, including the stories of the chapatis and the bed-swapping.

"One man wasn't allowed to make curry in the house by his landlady, so he had to wait until she left to begin cooking, and then had to open all the windows before she returned," added Dr Aslam.

The independence of India and Pakistan in 1947 opened up large scale migration, roughly when the first Asians are believed to have settled in Worcestershire.

But Dr Aslam suspects the very first settlers in Britain were servants who came over around two centuries ago.

"Their descendants are difficult to trace, as many are now white in colour," said Dr Aslam.

"They settled with white people, as did subsequent generations, so each mixed race generation became slightly paler. If we're lucky, we might find one of these relatives to speak to."

Exploring and identifying military service people who remained here after the Second World War, the lives of elderly women, and investigating the "generation gap" within the Asian community are other issues the team wants to explore.

Anyone interested in sharing life experiences or submitting photographs for the forthcoming book, which will be in libraries to use as a research guide, can contact researcher Dr Muhammed Ahsan on 01527 582970.

Alternatively, write to him at Worcestershire Racial Equality Council, 6 Mount Pleasant, Redditch, B97 4JB.