In 1948, Britain needed a fresh influx of people to help rebuild the country after World War Two had battered Britain’s towns and cities.
The arrival of British citizens from the Caribbean on 22 June 1948, at Tilbury Docks, Essex, on the Empire Windrush, was a defining moment in Britain’s post-war history. It signalled a welcoming of citizens of the British Empire to embark on new experiences in Britain. Whilst officially welcomed, some migrants faced open racism from the British public and found that their expectation of the ‘mother country’ was completely different to the reality of life in a sometimes hostile environment.
Windrush had left Kingston, Jamaica on 24 May 1948 (Empire Day) and carried 492 people (more when counting the stowaways that were later found and fined). It sailed up the River Thames and docked on 21 June 1948, but it was the following day when its passengers disembarked for their new lives.
Some of the passengers had pre-arranged jobs waiting for them when they arrived. The cost of the fare was £28, around £1000 today.
In recent months it has come to light that the children of the Windrush generation of Caribbean migrants have been deported incorrectly as official papers were often not produced. The resulting scandal has highlighted an unpopular immigration policy practised by the UK government.
Images: Wikimedia Commons (unless stated)