On 22 June 1948, the MV Windrush docked at Tilbury Docks with 1,027 passengers. Records show that of the passengers who disembarked, 802 were men, women and children from the Caribbean Islands of Jamaica, Bermuda, Trinidad and British Guyana. Many of them were ex-servicemen who had been in the armed forces during the war serving Britain, which they regarded as the “mother country”.
Migrants who came to Britain between 1948 and 1971 from the Caribbean Islands are known as the “Windrush Generation” and this project celebrates this pioneering generation that came to Britain and especially to Portsmouth over 70 years ago. The new arrivals were the first wave in Britain’s post-war drive to recruit labour from the Commonwealth to cover employment shortages in state-run services such as the NHS, armed forces and London Transport, helping to re-build the country after the ravages of World War II.
The new arrivals in 1948, were dispersed across the country to areas in which their labour was needed. Semi-skilled workers were needed to work in the furnaces and forges of the expanding manufacturing industries in the Midlands whilst others worked as porters, cleaners, drivers and nurses – jobs paying so badly that few indigenous people wanted them.
Some travelled to port towns like Plymouth and Portsmouth where they worked in the dockyards whilst others joined the Royal Navy. This project is celebrating those members who settled in Portsmouth after arrival in Britain.