The Story of Windrush Migrants

The Story of Windrush Migrants

This project, a partnership between Learning Through The Arts and The Brent Museum & Archives commemorates the 70th anniversary of the arrival of Empire Windrush in 1948.

But most importantly, it illustrates the invaluable contributions The Windrush migrants and subsequent generations have made to Britain over the decades.

The Second War World ended in 1945. A considerable portion of Britain had been destroyed by the war. In 1948, the British government called upon citizens from the Commonwealth to come and rebuild Britain. 493 passengers responded to that call and came on the ship called ‘The Windrush’.

This is the story of Windrush migrants, the first mass migration from the Caribbean to Britain.

June 22nd 1948, the day that The Windrush discharged its passengers at Tilbury Dock, has become an important landmark in the history of modern Britain. Caribbean migrants have become a vital part of British society and, in the process, transformed important aspects of British life.

The Story of Windrush Migrants- Oral Histories Film

July 10th 2020

Learning Through the Arts has released one of the project’s major outcomes- a film exploring the lives of Windrush migrants in their own words. participants were interviewed by volunteers, trained in extracting oral histories and Learning Through the Art’s staff throughout 2019 and 2020. Through a series of questions, the film meanders through the lives of those it documents from Arrival and Settlement to Reflections on theirs lived in Britain. The film exists as an archive of the intimate lived experience of these people which will now live on indefinitely.

With thanks to Cllr Robert Johnson, Cllr Orleen Hylton and all of the participants who gave their time and stories to the project.

Project Launch Event – Saturday 16th March
The Library at Willesden Green

To kick-start the project and increase the awareness of the heritage project to the local community, Learning Through The Arts hosted a launch event in the Reading room of the library.

With live steel band and African drumming performances throughout and an Opening Address from Cllr. Krupesh Hirani, it was a successful day with over 40 people in attendance.

Creative Director, Ademola Adeniji opened the event with an overview of the project and project aims and outcomes, accompanied by a presentation. Details of the exhibition that was opening were announced also, displayed on the Community Wall within the Library.

Poems written as part of the Poetry workshop were recited by the poets themselves who attended the workshop, it was announced also that they would be included in the upcoming exhibition.

Caribbean Refreshments were served.

Exhibition Launch  Friday 26th April
The Library at Willesden Green

The exhibition launch was an opportunity to bring people together to formally open the exhibition.

“It’s really a good exhibition. I am of the Windrush Generation coming to England in the early 50’s and I think this is a fitting tribute to myself and fellow Caribbean travellers who found themselves here, worked hard and helped to build up the country post-war. And I’m grateful and delighted the exhibitions have recognised our contribution and I hope that they continue the good work of archiving and exhibiting our experiences. Thank you.”

“Thank you for this stunning exhibition I am moved and impressed by the love, hard work and energy dedicated to the memories of the Windrush Generation. The content, the colours and the layout, truly beautiful as a poet whose work has been exhibited I am so happy with the outcome. You’ve done my work proud and meant it look amazing thank you, thank you, thank you.”

“Excellent presentation. Very informative displays and beautiful poetry.”

“Positive presentation should not just be here today (on show) gone tomorrow but continue to be part of the library and London’s history.”

“A really inspiring exhibition. EYE OPENER”

Great show exploring a really important part of our national story.

“This is a wonderful exhibition. Magnificent poetry and a timely reminder of the immense role of the Windrush Generation in the UK.”

“I like the exhibition. It is well thought out and well laid out. There is lots of interesting information. The poems are stand out. Love the poems!”

“A really inspiring exhibition. Great to see some many animated images used to tell the story of the Windrush Generations and their influence on the UK.

Excellent Exhibition. This generation should know our history so that they don’t behaviour in a negative way. To open their eyes.”

“Beautifully presented. Good presentation of different areas covered. E.g. family and social life/work and employment. Would have like to have seen more photos. Whole exhibition could have had a more prominent space. So more people could potentially attend.”

The Story of Windrush Migrants Exhibition
24th June-8th July 2019
Community Wall, The Library at Willesden Green

This whole story has bought to my eyes, well researched what a great history. Thank you so much.

Excellent. Thanks for the memories.

It is good that people are getting to learn about this now.

I simply came to use the facilities in the library and was very pleasantly surprised by the display of The Story of Windrush Migrants. I love history especially (as a descendant of Windrush). Thoroughly enjoyed reading all that was on display. Please please please don’t wait for Black History Month or other Black History Events/memorial to display our history, the generations after this need to see this on a regular basis, so they can get to learn/know and understand where they are coming from.

Thank you so much for this opportunity to see this.


With special thanks to our contributors

Charles Rupert
Lambeth Archives Dept.
London Transport Museum
Wembley Historical Society

Oral History Training Workshop 23rd May 2019

The aim of the day was to teach the participants the basics of taking Oral Histories to be able to conduct interviews and collect stories from Windrush Migrants and their families. The day was split in 5 sections each with a different focus.

The group were taught the technical aspects of how to record for the interview, such as which file type to use and the level of db to record at.

Feedback fron Trainees:

“Interesting to call up my memories […] I liked my childhood” – Sherron

“Give a voice to people who don’t usually get to speak” – Verusca

“Training for oral history is really valuable […] people feel their input has been recognised or is something of value in some way by being shown in public.” – Sherron

“[I want to] gain skills which are valuable to the museum sector.” – Joyce

“Everybody’s got a story to tell.” – Tepra

“[I want to] know a bit more about the world and the community.” – Tepra

Creative Family Workshops 28th – 31st May 2019

These workshops are the first set of workshops on the theme of Windrush in our partnership project, The Story of Windrush Migrants, in conjunction with the Brent Museum and Archives.  The four workshops were held at the Children’s Library at The Willesden Green Library.

The aim of the workshops were to educate people on the story of the Windrush Migrants through fun craft activities to help preserve this important piece of heritage, enabling young people to learn, interpret and connect the heritage of Windrush Migrants to Brent.

The activities included; ,making an origami ship to decorate with images of the Windrush Generation, creating postcards to write to a loved one, much like Caribbean migrants may have done during the long journey to the UK, creating colourful Carnival masks and making Welcome Flags, to welcome new arrivals to the UK.

This project was kindly funded by Heritage Lottery Fund.

Field Trip: Tilbury Docks, London International Cruise Terminal
20th July 2019

Learning Through The Arts organised a field trip to Tilbury Docks, the port where the Windrush Migrants marking the first wave of post-war migration to the UK from the Caribbean.

A group, including volunteers of this Windrush Project and LTTA staff visited the London International Cruise Terminal to have a guided tour of the site and learn more about the Migrant’s arrival.

On this day, Tilbury Carnival was also taking place, a reinstated tradition of Tilbury’s local history. As part of the festivities of the Tilbury Carnival , there were Steel and Brass band performances, Dance groups and Choirs ensembles. The carnival procession arrived at the Dock to kick start the programme of activity.

This trip provided the opportunity for our volunteers/ and participants to see first-hand where the Windrush Generation would have arrived, the first arrival of post-war migration to the UK from the Caribbean.

Volunteers for the Tilbury Riverside Project provided a guided tour of the site, providing lots of new information on the history of the arrival of  Migrants and local History in Tilbury. They also included lots of interesting Trivia surrounding the Dock and the Windrush arrivals. We got to walk the same steps as those that would have travelled on the Ship.

This aspect of the the project was such an important marker to reaches people of different age groups and backgrounds across Brent. It gave people the skills to learn, interpret and connect to the heritage of Windrush Migrants in a new way.

For more details of the event visit the Tilbury Carnival Wesbite here

With thanks to the organisers of Tilbury Carnival.


This project is supported by The National Heritage Lottery Fund.