Dharm Sheel Chowdhary

Location

Laindon, SS15 6ET
United Kingdom
51° 34' 31.3176" N, 0° 25' 20.0028" E
Other names: 

Dr Dharm Sheel Chowdhary

1
Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1902
Precise DOB unknown: 
Y
City of birth: 
Jullundur, Punjab
Country of birth: 
India
Date of death: 
01 Dec 1959
Precise date of death unknown: 
Y
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1928
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1928-59

2
About: 

Dharm Sheel Chowdhary originally came to England to do postgraduate medical studies, having received a basic medical qualification from Lahore Medical College. He studied at Edinburgh University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, before joining Dr Gilder’s medical practice in Laindon, Essex, as a GP. In 1933, shortly after his Indian wife joined him in Laindon, Chowdhary bought the practice. The couple went on to have two children, remaining in Britain for the rest of their lives.

According to his wife Savitri Chowdhary's memoir, Chowdhary worked around the clock, also offering dentist work, eye tests and a counselling service. He became a hugely popular doctor and hired a number of assistants to help him with his practice over the years. Chowdhary also served in the Civil Defence and the Home Guard in the Second World War. While the Chowdharys had numerous English friends in Laindon, they were also closely connected to the Indian community in London, making frequent excursions there for meals at Veeraswamy’s, Shafi’s and the vegetarian restaurant Shearn’s, and to attend social functions at the Hindu Centre and the India Club both of which he and his wife helped to establish. An Arya Samaj Hindu and trained as a Hindu priest in India, Chowdhary also officiated at Hindu marriage ceremonies, including that of Indian and English acrobat pair, Dickie Pather and Maisie Rogers.

Chowdhary died in 1959, aged 57, and was mourned by the people of Laindon. In 1966, some years after his death, the Chowdhary County Primary School was opened in Laindon and named after him. The plaque on the school (now closed) read: ‘To honour the memory of Dr Dharm Sheel Chowdhary who gave devoted service to the people of Laindon and the local schools throughout the period from 1931–59.’

Connections: 

Savitri Chowdhary (his wife), Sir Learie Constantine, Krishna Menon (both visited India Club), Dickie Pather, Paul Robeson (visited India Club).

Involved in events: 

Celebration of Indian Independence at the Albert Hall, 1947

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Secondary works: 

Chowdhary, Savitri, I Made My Home in England (Laindon: Grant-Best Ltd, n.d.)

Chowdhary, Savitri, In Memory of My Beloved Husband (Laindon: Grant-Best Ltd, n.d.)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto, 2002)