Published: 22 June 2021
National Windrush Day
Westminster City Council has honoured and celebrated National Windrush Day by unveiling a Windrush Generation Green Plaque at Paddington station, in collaboration with Network Rail, Great Western Railway and the Elizabeth Line.
The Windrush Generation included soldiers, doctors, nurses, teachers, university students, transit workers, artists, politicians, and athletes, who came to London between 1948 and 1970 upon invitation from the British Government to rebuild a nation ravaged by war.
On 22 June 1948, the MV Empire Windrush docked in the UK carrying more than 500 members of the Caribbean community, who set off to begin their new lives after WWII.
While Tilbury Docks was the first port of call for many of the Windrush Generation, it wasn’t the last. It was Paddington station where many people of the Windrush Generation travelled to in order to get to the heart of central London.
To mark this very important moment in time, a green plaque has been installed in Paddington Station for commuters and visitors from all over the world to pause and acknowledge the history and contribution from the Windrush Generation and their descendants.
Peter Straker, who travelled from Jamaica to the UK as a young boy with his family after WWII, unveiled the green plaque at Paddington Station.
Cllr Heather Acton, Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Communities, said:
The green plaque at Paddington Station will be an enduring, visual reminder for thousands of people of where the Windrush Generation began in London.
We have a large Caribbean community here in Westminster, who represent the rich diversity of our city, and we want to celebrate them on this day and every day. We must continue to highlight and always remember the enormous contribution the Windrush Generation made and continues to make in our communities.
Serena Simon, Chair of Westminster City Council’s Black, Asian and Multi Ethnic staff network, said:
We, the Westminster Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff network, are proud to see the unveiling of a green plaque in honour of the Windrush generation who arrived in the UK, including in London, in the early 1950’s to rebuild Britain after WWII.
This is the fourth year we have commemorated Windrush day. We’ll continue to work alongside our communities in celebration of the contribution made by this generation, in line with Westminster’s commitment towards greater inclusion and celebration of the city’s diversity.
Mike Gallop, on behalf of Network Rail and GWR who run Paddington station, said:
We are delighted to have a new plaque at Paddington to celebrate and remember the huge contribution the Windrush Generation have made and continue to make.
Many communities including those we serve across the west from Paddington have been shaped by the inspirational people of the Windrush Generation and today and every day we are grateful for them.
Other events and activities are planned to celebrate National Windrush Day in Westminster.
A documentary capturing the first-hand experiences of the Windrush Generation taking the extraordinary step in their lives to the UK has been produced by Westminster City Council’s Black Asian and Multi Ethnic staff network.
It contains stories of struggles and triumphs of Westminster residents who navigated their way through post-war London. As well as hearing real-life experiences, archival footage showing the historic sights and sounds they would have experienced upon their arrival is also seen.
An exhibition titled, Windrush Generation: London is the Place for Me, named after the Calypso song by Trinidadian recording artist, Lord Kitchener (who arrived in Britain singing this song from the gang plank); will celebrate the lives, history, culture and contributions of the Windrush Generation who reside in Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Housed in the North Kensington Library, the exhibition will be in Notting Hill, the heart of a community where many Caribbean immigrants settled upon arrival in their new homeland. This exhibition will encompass, the artefacts and documentary of the Windrush generation. The exhibition will be held on 24 August until 31 October.
We want to further celebrate the Windrush Generation’s contributions to the British economy and culture by working with local businesses and residents to host a cultural market in Maida Hill Saturday 24 August. The market will have a range of stalls and exhibitors including, food, literature, arts and crafts, photos, and interactive events.
As part of Westminster City Council’s pop up programme, Joyce Fraser’s (Founder of Black Heroes Foundation) Black Heroes Soul Food Café in a Windrush Living Room is opening at 12 Waterloo Place, St James’s, on June 22, a venue for running arts therapy, exercise, lifestyle sessions, and grabbing a Jamaican Pattie and a Blue Mountain coffee.