George Sukhram


William Robinson Clarke

‘Voyager who never looked back’

1925 - 2004

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Along with 193 other passengers, British Guiana-born George Sukhram had to join the Empire Windrush at Port of Spain in Trinidad as the ship did not call at Georgetown.

However, he was already a seasoned traveller, having joined the RAF in the spring of 1944 as a West Indian volunteer during the Second World War. He crossed the Atlantic with a contingent of volunteers several months later and was posted to RAF Hunmanby Moor near Filey in Yorkshire for training. It later became a Butlin’s holiday camp.

His full name was George Vijaya Kumar Sukhram and he was born in Georgetown on May 12, 1925. Although both his mother, Jasmati, and father, Edward, were also born in British Guiana, present-day Guyana, the Sukhram family originated from India. Their ancestors came to British Guiana as indentured labourers to work on the sugar plantations in the 19th century. Edward had done well for himself and worked in accounting.

When George was demobbed, he returned to British Guiana but it was never his intention to remain there. When the 22-year-old booked his place on the Windrush, records show he gave England as both his previous and future ‘permanent place of residence’.

Column 6 of the ship’s passenger list asks for ‘Proposed address in the UK’. Many passengers simply had no idea where they were heading, and the government had to temporarily house 236 of them in the Clapham South Deep Shelter in London. George, however, gave 51 Alder Grove, Cricklewood in north London, as his address, and that was where he went. It was the home of the Figgins household, Harold (a bank clerk) his wife Evelina, and three other members of the family.

George did not remain there for long. In 1949 he moved further north to Ollerton Road in Southgate, and, to illustrate the itinerant lifestyle West Indian settlers often led, he moved on to Fox Lane in the same district in 1950. Here he shared accommodation with five other adults. In 1951, he moved yet again – to Alicia Gardens, Harrow, still north of the river.

Stability finally entered George’s life when he married 20-year-old Gisele Henriette Ty Tchang Hai at Willesden Register Office in March 1952. His wife’s mother was Eurgenie Joussett from France, and her father was Jean Ly Tchang, who was born in China and owned a restaurant. The marriage certificate showed that George was a scientific instrument maker.

Gisele first arrived in England from New York on board the Marine Falcon, which docked at Southampton in December 1947. It was an unhappy occasion for her. Gisele, then aged only 17, had been deported from the USA and was in transit to France.

By 1956, George and Gisele lived in Tankridge Road, Brent, north London. After all those moves in his early years in the capital, he remained there until his death on February 3, 2004, aged 78.

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