The Way We Were

At the end of the Second World War, Britain had a severe manpower shortage. It looked to members of the Commonwealth to assist in rebuilding the country. In 1948 members of Caribbean communities answered the call for support, and on 21 June 1948*, the cruise liner HMT Empire Windrush docked in Tilbury, Essex.

On board the ship were 802 fare paying passengers from the Caribbean Islands who came in response to the British Government’s invitation to live and work in the UK. People continued to move freely to Britain from the Caribbean until the 1970s when new immigration policies came into force. Those who migrated from the Caribbean during this period are now referred to as the Windrush Generation.

Many of those embarking on this journey had planned to return home to the Caribbean within a period of five years. However, some 40 to 60 years later, the five year plan was abandoned seeing many migrants settling into life in the UK. For some this was because the return fair was prohibitively costly (in today’s money over £1500), for others it was because of the arrival of children- Windrush babies (the Second Generation).

Second Generation, a Doncaster based group, were awarded funding by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to create an exhibition to share the stories of those Windrush babies. The exhibition will be installed in the Frenchgate Centre, when possible.

Until then, please enjoy this video and the personal accounts from members of the Second Generation. They share what it was like growing up in a Caribbean household in Doncaster, experiences of racism and memories of nights out in 1980s Doncaster!

With thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and all participants.

The Way We Were — Stories

Jo describes her career in the NHS.

Winston describes dance practice, setting up Night Crew and Christmases in Doncaster.

Stanford shares his memories of playing football, going out and life at home.

Patrick shares his memories of school days, early experiences of racism and playing on Town Fields in all weathers.

Mick talks about cricket, building a little Jamaica, his father and growing up in a multi-racial family.

Joyce and Pauline
Joyce and Pauline share their memories of childhood in Jamaica, arriving in the UK, history lessons and lettuce sandwiches!

Bev reminisces on growing up with strict Caribbean parents, her school days and nights at the Nag’s Head.

Jenny remembers the 80s social scene in Doncaster, setting up her own business and experiences of racism growing up in Doncaster.

Dave and Desi
Dave and Desi share their memories of arrivals from Jamaica, night clubbing in 1980s Doncaster, experiences of racism and finding work.

Liz remembers a comment made during her career.