The Windrush Generation

Birth Place: United Kingdom

Known for: 1948

1,027 Caribbean People entered Britain at the beginning of Windrush.

Many people experienced an unfriendly welcome when they arrived in the UK.

Many stayed and built lives and contributed to the rebuilding of Britain after the war.

The Windrush Generation

Life story


On Tuesday 22nd June 1948, the Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Dock, Essex. According to the passenger list there were 1,027 passengers on board, of whom 539 gave Jamaica as their last place of permanent residence, 139 from Bermuda, 73 from Trinidad and Tobago, and 44 from British Guiana, with others coming from other countries in the Caribbean. Many of them served Britain during WWII, and were either returning to their jobs or coming to find work because Britain needed help to rebuild the country.


When the passengers docked, they didn’t quite get the friendly welcome they had hoped for. Many experienced racism and discrimination, and often found it hard to get housing and jobs as some companies said they didn’t want black people to work for them. Children of the Windrush arrivals also suffered prejudice and discrimination, with many of them being bullied at school because of the colour of their skin with some also suffering racial attacks, which in later years led to riots in cities across Britain, including Nottingham and London.


It is now more than seventy years since the Windrush arrived in Britain. An estimated 500,000 people now living in the UK who arrived between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries have been called the Windrush generation.


But, some of the people who arrived in the UK as children with their parents were later told — wrongly — that they are illegally living in Britain. In 1971, these people were told they could stay permanently, but the government didn’t keep a record of them, and some of these people apply for official status or get a UK passport. In 2012, there was a change to the law and people were told they needed official documents to prove they could get things like free hospital treatment or benefits, leading to some being sent to detention centres and facing deportation.


On 21 August 2018, the Home secretary announced that after a review of 11,800 cases, eighteen members of the Windrush generation who could have been wrongfully removed or detained would get a formal apology from the government, and those who had left the UK would also be helped to return.


The Prime Minister at the time apologised to Caribbean leaders and reassured them that no one from the Windrush generation will have to leave the UK. The government also announced that to celebrate the contribution of the Windrush generation and their descendants, Windrush Day would be held annually on 22 June. The Notting Hill carnival is a direct legacy of the Windrush Generation.

Were African Caribbean men and women living in Britain during the 2nd World War? What did they contribute to society after arriving from the Caribbean? In your opinion, what could have been put in to place to prepare both the British and Windrush arrivals for the changes they would experience?

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