Amigos Pizza

The following story is part of Memories of Wednesbury High Street, a collaboration between artists. Iain Armstrong and Jo Löki, involving participation from a variety of Wednesbury residents. You can look through the photographs while you listen to people’s stories. For more information on the project and to view more stories, visit here.

Amigos Pizza and Magnet Gentleman’s Outfitter

Originally from a small village in Pakistan, Shokat Ali emigrated to the UK in 1968, at the age of eight and settled in Darlaston. After a difficult time attending school during the 1970s, Ali worked at J Nesbit Evans in Wednesbury and Comrades Bicycle Factory in Darlaston before moving to Amsterdam in 1980 aged 18. Ali spent seven happy years in Amsterdam working at the famous Hotel Krasnapolsky. During this time he got married and started a family before returning to live in Darlaston. Ali became successful in the takeaway trade launching his first business Golden Spice in Hilltop, Wednesbury before running the family business Amigos Pizza at 14 Market Place for the last 22 years.

Magnet Gentleman’s Outfitters stands on the opposite corner to Amigos Pizza at 13 Market Place. Part of Wednesbury Conservation Zone, the Magnet shop’s iconic signage and frontage is protected as it has remained virtually unchanged since the business was established in 1927. Ali had dreamed of owning this proeperty for many years and in 2018 he had the opportunity to purchase it.

Shokat Ali remembers arriving in the UK in 1968 and how shocking it was for an 8 year old boy from a small village in Pakistan. 
After living and working in Amsterdam for 7 years, Shokat Ali returned to the UK in 1987. He tells the story of how he came to own his family business Amigos Pizza which he has run successfully for 22 years. 
Shokat Ali tells the story of how he came to own the Magnet Gentleman’s Outfitters building at 13 Market Place. He shares his dreams for the building and plans to turn it into another successful family business in Wednesbury. 
Local resident Elaine Costigan shares her memories of Magnet Gentleman’s Outfitters. 

To see more, and to read captions, click on the photographs.

Images in the gallery were shared by project participants working with visual artist Jo Löki.  They were collected, edited, adapted and digitised into photo-albums © Jo LökI / Memories Of Wednesbury High Street.  With special thanks to: Shokat Ali, Michael Tunnicliffe, Ian Bott, Bev Parker who gave their time, access to personal collections and shared memories of Wednesbury High Street. Their vital contributions add to the conversations around Wednesbury’s rich heritage.