Walter Aquart


William Robinson Clarke

‘Arrived England in June, back in Jamaica by September’

1915 - 1998

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When Walter Aquart disembarked from the Empire Windrush at Tilbury in June 1948, he did not fit the narrative of coming to the Mother Country in search of greener pastures.

In fact, he had no intention of remaining in England. A few weeks later, on September 2, he was back on board another ship, the SS Oribita sailing from Liverpool to Kingston, having visited the country on business.

It is a common fallacy that the Windrush carried only 492 Jamaicans coming to England to seek work. There were in fact at least 1,027 passengers on board and they certainly were not all Jamaican. Some of the passengers were coming to the UK for a holiday, some were returning home after spending time working abroad, some were in the UK for educational purposes and many, like Walter, were simply in England as part of their employment. Walter declared himself as a clerk on the Windrush passenger list but we don’t know any more about the precise business in which he was employed.

Walter arrived back in the Jamaican capital on September 22 to be reunited with his wife, Beryl, and three-year-old son Ronald. The couple had married in 1943 while Walter was working as a clerk. Beryl, née Dunn, was a seamstress hailing from Portland on the island’s northeast coast.

Walter was born on the other side of the country in Hanover on August 18, 1915. Christened Walter Percival Lindley Aquart, he was the son of

Grenadian-born Walter Percival Montague Aquart and Wilhelmina Theodore Aquart, née Harris, from Hanover.

Walter senior was a planter and 13 years older than his wife. They married in Cave Valley, Hanover, in 1923, almost eight years after Walter junior came into the world.

The Grenadian side of the family was white- skinned whereas Wilhelmina and the Harris family were classed as ‘Black’. As such, Walter and his four siblings were relatively light-skinned.

Walter and Beryl had five children before divorcing in 1963. Walter later remarried and had a daughter with his second wife.

He travelled widely and lived and worked in the USA. Beryl, too, spent time in the UK and the USA, and the frequent separations might have been a contributory cause to the breakdown of their marriage.

In his time, Walter worked as a farmer and was an active trade unionist, holding a senior position in the National Workers Union in Jamaica. He died in Kingston in 1998 aged 83.

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