The Windrush 70th Anniversary
2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the arrival at Tilbury docks of the Empire Windrush from the Caribbean. For thousands of British people, including those not directly descended from the 1948 pioneers, it is a hugely symbolic moment.
After the second World War Southampton was one of the first destinations for people coming from the Caribbean to accept jobs that white British people were not able to fill; and many came to improve their educational opportunities; and after all this was the motherland! They were subsequently known as “The Windrush Generation” and the two of the main UK ports of entry were Tilbury and Southampton. As well as creating opportunities recent events have now shown how badly some of these individuals were treated, with some who have faced humiliating degradation through expulsions, imprisonment and refusal of basic life sustaining services.
Nonetheless this phenomena changed the face of Britain, and Black migrants from Africa and the Caribbean were the first of subsequent migrant communities that include those from India , Pakistan, China, Poland and other countries that not only settled in the city but in all parts of the country. Some of you will recall those seminal images of well-dressed, eager-eyed young men and women who had the vision of a mystical but mythical motherland. Migrants and visitors, primarily through the port of Southampton, have changed the city irrevocably and many of us can visibly see how the culture of these Caribbean migrants has had a massive impact on “The British Way of Life”
This year will again remind us all of the value of those who came and their descendants.