Mohammed Bux Baloch obituary

Other lives: Souvenir shop owner whose central London stores became welcoming hubs for newly arrived Pakistani immigrants

My father, Mohammed Bux Baloch, was the founder and owner of Balochi of London, a small chain of souvenir shops in the West End. Although the stores were commercially successful, they were perhaps more important as a meeting place for countless numbers of newly arrived Pakistani immigrants; somewhere they could get their bearings, seek help and find friendship.

Over the years Mohammed never stinted on the informal assistance he gave to such visitors, helping them to settle academically, professionally and socially in the city. The shops were also a place where exiled Pakistani politicians and democracy activists could meet to discuss their strategies, often with the accompanying comfort of food and tea.

Mohammed was born in Khudabad in what is now Pakistan but was then pre-partition India, and grew up in the central Saddar district of the nearby city of Hyderabad. His father, Ahmed Khan Baloch, was an office attendant (known in British India as a “peon”), and his mother, Allah Bachai Baloch, a housewife. After attending Noor Muhammad high school in Hyderabad, he worked as an entry-level associate at the Burmah Oil Company.

In 1970, in search of adventure in his mid-20s, he headed by ship, train and bus to Europe, unsure of his destination but eventually ending up in London. After a short-lived dalliance with accountancy on Wimpole Street, he arrived at his true calling on bustling Carnaby Street, where he began selling records on the street before opening up a souvenir outlet in a basement shop.

Mohammed Bux Baloch retired in 2009, devoting himself to charitable causes
Mohammed Bux Baloch retired in 2009, devoting himself to charitable causes Photograph: from family/Unknown

Within 10 years he had two stores on Carnaby Street and one on Oxford Street. Although the shops were mainly aimed at tourists, they also sold clothing, including leather jackets, which were fairly hard to find in London at the time.

Thanks to Mohammed’s welcoming demeanour, the premises also became meeting points. His wife, Hassina (nee Murad Shah), whom he married in 1976, often provided her renowned cooking, but food was sometimes ordered in, and would be eaten by visitors behind the cash counter or in the stock room. On more special occasions a large group would troop out for a sit-down meal at one of the favoured local Indo-Pakistani restaurants: Gaylord, Shezan or Kundan.

After retirement in 2009, Mohammed dedicated himself to charitable and philanthropic work, mainly in Pakistan, where his financial contributions helped to build mosques, drinking water pumps and schools in low-income areas.

A devoted family man, he later became a full-time carer to Hassina after she was diagnosed with dementia, and never left her side.

He is survived by Hassina and their four children, Tariq, Mahreen, Shahzeen and me.

• The photo caption was amended on 16 January 2023 because one of those shown was misnamed. Standing, right, is Rooma Khan, an owner of the Carnaby Street shop where the picture was taken.

Bilal Baloch

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Mohammed Akram obituary
Other lives: Factory worker who arrived in the UK from Pakistan in 1965

Ferzana Akram

04, Jul, 2018 @10:53 AM

Article image
Mohammed Ramzan obituary
Other lives: Community activist and religious teacher in the Sufi tradition

Khalid Ramzan

01, Jan, 2017 @6:00 PM

Article image
Lionel Pyke obituary
Other lives: Entrepreneur who set up a London glass company and was a keen masters swimmer

Jonathan Pyke

20, Nov, 2022 @4:44 PM

Article image
Abdul Momen obituary
Other lives: Dedicated grassroots activist who did much to help the Bangladeshi community in north London

Eithne Nightingale

26, Feb, 2020 @4:47 PM

Article image
Mohammed Tikly obituary
Other Lives: South African educator who was active in the liberation struggle while in exile in London

Leon Tikly

11, Jun, 2020 @9:21 AM

Article image
David Cardwell obituary
Other lives: Leader in brand licensing in the UK, whose work built on the childhood memories of generations

Sarah Cardwell Davies

07, Nov, 2019 @4:56 PM

Article image
Enoch Williams obituary
Other Lives: Pioneering businessman who set up black hairdressing salons and an afro hairdressing school

Claire Hynes

03, Feb, 2021 @2:42 PM

Article image
Roger Sawtell obituary
Other lives: Advocate of common ownership who helped to set up an employee-run wholefood shop and a housing cooperative

Keir Salter

29, Jan, 2023 @5:38 PM

Article image
Malcolm Evans obituary
Other lives: Journalist who moved into the world of business startups

Mark Cornthwaite

28, Apr, 2022 @10:33 AM

Article image
Syed Mohammed Naseer obituary

Other lives: A revolutionary in his youth, who had to wait until he had turned 70 for India to grant him a visa to return

Humayoon Naseer

21, Sep, 2010 @5:39 PM