Barbara Lines & Family


William Robinson Clarke

‘It was a holiday of a lifetime for family of four’

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As a senior member of the Bermuda Fire Marine Insurance Company where he rose to become managing director, business travel was a regular part of Roland Lines’ life. But when he boarded the Empire Windrush in 1948, the trip was to be purely for pleasure. With him was his 43-year-old wife, Gwen, and his two children, Barbara, 11, and Roland, eight.

They were visiting Britain for a four-week family holiday. They sailed first class and intended to stay at the Imperial Hotel in London, which in 1943 had hit the headlines for refusing to give cricketer Learie Constantine a room because of its colour bar.

The holiday got off to an inauspicious start when Roland, 46, had his money stolen shortly after arrival and had to request further funds from home in Bermuda.

The family moved to the Park Lane Hotel, hired a car, and spent hours sightseeing around the capital. London still bore the scars of the Second World War. Barbara told the Windrush Foundation how shocked she was at the devastation she witnessed.

The family then embarked on a tour of Britain driving up the west coast to Scotland and then travelling back down the east coast.

Roland and Gwen, who was a nurse and originally from Canada, had married in Ottawa in 1934. There were frequent social visits to Gwen’s mother in Ottawa and her sister Hilda in Montreal, while Roland often visited the USA on business. His roots lay firmly in Bermuda and that is where the family grew up. Roland junior still lives in Bermuda.

On July 23, 1948, just over a month after arriving on the Windrush, the family boarded the Queen Mary for the USA, arriving in New York on July 28, 1948. While in New York, they stayed at the Vanderbilt Hotel.

Like everyone else, Barbara had no idea of the future significance of the Windrush and does not recollect much about the voyage or being aware of many Black people on board. It was understandable given that there would have been little mixing between first class and C class passengers, which was where the bulk of the West Indian passengers were housed.

As a young girl, Barbara was a talented sportsperson in Bermuda but an eye injury curtailed her sporting activity.

She was educated at Bermuda High School for Girls, then at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada where she obtained a degree as a Bachelor in Fine Arts.

She came to England on a permanent basis in the late 1950s working for Unilever in Blackfriars, London from 1959 to 1963 where she specialised in cartography.

In June 1960 she married London-born Antony Verdie. The couple settled in Surrey and currently live in Banstead. A gifted artist, Barbara is a member of the Banstead Art Group. Roland senior died in Bermuda in 1966. His wife Gwen remained in Bermuda where she passed away in 2002.

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