Windrush 75 like previous commemorations, has highlighted the contribution that Caribbean men and women have made and continue to make to Britain’s well-being and prosperity since the 1940s

Share this:

In October 2017, Windrush Foundation launched Windrush 75 after receiving an award from Heritage Lottery Fund. Windrush Foundation has been the leading organisation in ‘commemorating and celebrating the 75th anniversary of the arrival of MV Empire Windrush that brought to the UK hundreds of Caribbean passengers who disembarked on 22 June 1948 at Tilbury Docks, Essex.’ Of the 1027 passengers listed on the ship’s records, 802 gave their last country of residence as somewhere in the Caribbean: 339 from Jamaica; 139 from Bermuda; 119 from England; 73 from Trinidad; 66 from Mexico (Polish migrants); 44 from British Guiana; 7 others Caribbean; 40 other non-Caribbean.

The ship has become an iconic symbol of post-war Caribbean settlement in Britain. It was what the late Sam B. King MBE intended in 1995 when he invited Arthur Torrington to work with him on plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary in 1998. The following year Windrush Foundation received charitable status and has not relented in its efforts to show how Caribbean people have worked to bring about equality of opportunities and justice for all in the UK.

Windrush 75, like previous commemorations, has highlighted the contribution that Caribbean men and women have made and continue to make to Britain’s well-being and prosperity since the 1940s. Yet, the contribution their ancestors have made goes back to the 1500s when British people settled in the Caribbean, almost wiping out the indigenous population and forcing enslaved Africans to work on plantations.
In a 1939 speech, Winston Churchill said: ‘The West Indies, two hundred years ago, bulked very largely in the minds of all people who were making Britain and making the British Empire.

Our possessions of the West Indies, like that of India – the colonial plantation and development, as they were called – give us the strength to, the support, but especially the capital, the wealth, at a time when no other European nation possessed such a reserve, which enabled us to come through the great struggle of the Napoleonic Wars, the keen competition of the commerce of the 18th and 19th centuries and enabled us not only to acquire this worldwide appendage of possessions we have, but also to lay the foundation of that commercial and financial leadership which, when the world was young, when everything outside Europe was undeveloped, enabled us to make our great position in the world.’

(The Negro in the Caribbean, 1942, Dr Eric Williams).
Sam King was the first person to have preserved the stories of the men and women who were on the board MV Empire Windrush. He kept their names and addresses and sent them Christmas postcards. To Sam we owe gratitude as we see how names and phrases like ‘Windrush Generation’, ‘Windrush Pioneers’ and ‘Windrush Champions’ are being used. He was first to have coined them after 1948.
75 Windrush Pioneers and Champions publication features 75 men and women considered to have made significant contributions to our communities and to Britain over the past 75 years.

They are not the only ones to have done so, but Windrush Foundation has selected them in 2018 and will also publish the profiles of other Caribbean people in the coming years. It should be noted that about 4,000 WWII Caribbean servicemen (like Laurent Phillpotts) and women settled in Britain after the War ended in 1945, some returned in 1947 to the UK on the HMS Ormonde and HMS Almanzora and many of them assisted Empire Windrush passengers on 22 June 1948. Windrush Foundation considers them also as ‘Pioneers’.

Windrush Foundation defines ‘Windrush Generation’ as the Caribbean people who have settled in the UK from 1945 to 1973 and have contributed to the rebuilding of Britain after WWII. They are the ones who have laid the foundation for future generations: in housing, religion, economic, social, political and race relations; we stand on their shoulders. We celebrate in particular the men and women who arrived on 22 June 1948 having travelled on MV Empire Windrush and disembarking at Tilbury Docks, Essex.

‘Windrush Champions’ has been defined as Caribbean people who arrived in the UK after 22 June 1948 and whose work for local communities and British society laid the foundation for the next generation. The summary profiles below are not the only ones who have done so, but in this 75th anniversary publication they are included because Windrush Foundation has good knowledge of their work. The late Sam King MBE, co-founder of the organisation, and an Empire Windrush passenger, had for many years observed the contributions they have made and with this book we acknowledge them now, but will include other names in our next publication.

‘Windrush Champions’ stand on the shoulders of the ‘Pioneers’ who made their homes in the UK after WWII ended and who made living in the Britain easier for those who returned in 1947 and on 22 June 1948. We know that the Pioneers found companions and RAF colleagues in the major cities and towns and corresponded with relatives and friends in the Caribbean. They were the key sources of encouragement for them to emigrate. So, those who arrived between May 1945 and December 1947 received their support.
Many of the Caribbean passengers who arrived on 22 June 1948 at Tilbury Docks, Essex, were assisted in like manner. The WWII RAF Caribbean personnel returned to their respective bases, and the 236 passengers who had made no arrangement for accommodation were housed at Clapham South Deep Shelter, London.
After the arrival of MV Empire Windrush, other ships brought hundreds of thousands of Caribbean settlers to the UK. Most passengers in the 1960s and 1970s travelled on British Overseas Airways.

The so-called ‘Windrush scandal’ has highlighted the experiences of thousands of Caribbean people whom Home Office officials have denied UK citizenship rights, resulting in serious injustices to individuals and families. They are ‘children of the Windrush generation’ and mainly those who arrived in Britain with their parents before 1973 and who are considered not have produced hard evidence to verify their claim of having a right to remain in the country. The British Government has said it is committed to making the ‘wrongs’ ‘right’ and to ensure that all those affected receive citizenship and compensation. It’s a ‘Home Office scandal’ not a ‘Windrush scandal’.

The Directors of Windrush Foundation hope that ‘75 Windrush Pioneers and Champions’ will assist your knowledge and understanding of their contribution to Britain over the years. Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..”, comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

Share this: