Windrush Generation 1945 - 1960

The ship HMT Empire Windrush arrived at the Port of Tilbury on 21 June 1948 and its passengers disembarked a day later. The ship carried 492 Caribbean migrants, many of them veterans of the Second World War. The ship and its passengers have a symbolic status as the start of the Windrush Generation.

The Windrush Generation denotes the people who emigrated from the Caribbean to Britain between the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush on 22 June 1948 and the Immigration Act 1971, including the passengers on the first ship.

  • 1945 - End of the Second World War, servicemen and women return to the Caribbean. Some stay.
  • 1945 - Yorkshire-born musician and composer Geoff Love (external link) and his family had been living in Tottenham since the 1930s.
  • 1946 - Randolph Turpin (external link), the first black British boxing star, made his professional debut at Harringay Arena. Randolph’s father was born in British Guyana and came to England to fight in the First World War.

The boxer Randolph Turpin appearing at Harringay Arena

  • 1948 - British Nationality Act (external link) passed granting the status of British Subject to citizens of the UK and Colonies, stating that "the expression ‘British Subject’ and the expression 'Commonwealth Citizen’ shall have the same meaning”.
  • 1948 - On 21st June HMT Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Dock, heralding the start of large-scale immigration from the Caribbean.
  • 1949 - The new National Health Service (external link) began to recruit staff from the Caribbean. After a largely unsuccessful campaign in Britain, the Tottenham Hospital Management Board reported ‘such energetic campaigning deserves better results’. Of 17 enquiries for 737 vacancies, only two potential students and one qualified nurse had come forward.

Nurses at a Tottenham hospital 1950s

  • 1949 - In March, Tottenham Borough Council wrote to the Home Office to request the ban of a Fascist Union Movement march from Dalston to Tottenham.
  • 1949 - US singer and political activist Paul Robeson (external link) performed at Harringay Arena, as part of his UK tour.
  • 1956 - At the invitation of the Barbados Government, London Transport (external link) began direct recruitment of bus conductors, Underground staff and canteen assistants. The Barbados government lent recruits their fares to Britain, to be repaid over two years.
  • 1957 - Textile designer Althea McNish (PDF, 373KB) arrived in Tottenham. She had moved to the UK in 1951 from Trinidad. She completed a postgraduate degree in textile design at The Royal College of Art in 1957. Althea designed for companies including Liberty's and Hull Traders; her work is represented in the V&A collections. She is associated with the Caribbean Artists’ Movement (external link). Althea became an acclaimed and internationally important textile designer and artist (external link).

Textiles by Althea McNish including Golden Harvest

  • 1958 - Violence against black people led to race riots in Notting Hill and Nottingham.
  • 1959 - Trinidad-born activist Claudia Jones (external link) organised the first indoor Caribbean Carnival in response to the violence. The award-winning broadcaster Alex Pascall OBE (external link) worked with her and the carnival was televised by the BBC. Claudia wrote "our Carnival [symbolises] the unity of our people resident here and of all our many friends who love the West Indies". Tottenham has a long history of award-winning carnival groups and mas bands.

More information and history about the Windrush Generation can be found on Haringey Council's National Windrush Day page.

Page last updated:

25 September 2020

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