Bermudian Research on the Windrush Generation

The late journalist Ira Philip documented eight Bermudians who boarded the Empire Windrush in 1948 and made their way on board as stowaways.  Ira Philip was an exceptional writer, broadcaster and inspiration. 

"I am thankful for his ability and courage to write and publish the history of our people; not for me, but for those generations yet unborn who will, through his work, know who and whose they are."


Lt/Col. David Burch

Bermudian History Matters

Ira Philip was a Bermudian writer, broadcaster and campaigner.  His work allows us to piece together the fabric of the past.  A fabric that all too often has been left out of the overall tapestry.  leaving an incomplete picture of the past can never help a people understand their collective story.  

Ira Philip, MBE, JP.  (16 December 1925 – 9 April 2018)

 

Passengers Leaving The Empire Windrush, England 1948

Bermuda Windrush

Source: National Archives England

Map Showing the route of the Empire Windrush on her way to England.

(Passenger Numbers from the National Archives UK.) 

“We stopped off in Havana for two days and then we went on to Mexico and then Bermuda. We were there for about four or five days and on the last night in Bermuda we had a big dance; that was beautiful."

Alford Gardner

 

The newspaper advert displays the cost of a passage from Jamaica to the UK.  The cost appears quite reasonable, but it was actually very costly.  many of the Windrush passengers wanted a better future. Jamaica was still recovering from the devastating 1944 Atlantic hurricane season.   A major August hurricane struck near Kingston, Jamaica, causing severe damage as it crossed the island to Montego Bay. A large and potent hurricane, known as the Great Atlantic hurricane, attained Category 4—possibly even Category 5. The aftermath of this hurricane brought severe hardship.  Bermuda's Windrush generation also wanted to seek a better life and pursue work and in some cases training. Leaving home was both exciting and also very challenging.

The Front Page of the London Evening Standard (1948)

The Front Cover of the London Evening Standard.  The Paper welcomed the sons and daughters from the 'Empire,' but this welcome did not permeate across all of society.  Even before the Windrush had left Jamaica, the prime minister, Clement Attlee, had examined the possibility of preventing its embarkation or diverting the ship and the migrants on board to East Africa. After the vessel had arrived at Tilbury, the colonial secretary, Arthur Creech Jones, is said to have reassured his cabinet colleagues that, although “these people have British passports and must be allowed to land there’s nothing to worry about because they won’t last one winter in England” (detailed in Randall Hansen’s book Citizenship and Immigration in Post-War Britain).

The 1948 National Act is a powerful window into the smog of institutional racism that consumed Britain in so many ways.  Read More

 

Racism In Postwar Britain

Most people would find such overt racism deeply shocking today.  While this overt racism is not tolerated, there are other aspects to this story that remain.  This is just one chapter in a book of many.

Photo from the National Archives (UK)

 

 

BBC 4 Television Documentary on the Windrush Generation.

This documentary offers a valuable insight into the life and challenges faced by Black Bermudians leaving Bermuda for a life in the 'Mother Land.'  The struggles and stories of Bermuda's Windrush generation paved the way for fellow Bermudians to follow.  While the films are based around the lives of Jamaican arrivals, you can only imagine how frightening and brave it was to arrive with very little money and in many cases no job or a place to live.

 

 

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuEg8lcVy3U

 

 

 

BBC Radio Podcast - The Voyage Of The Empire Windrush

Bermuda's Windrush Generation News Story

The Following article in the Royal Gazette (Bermuda).  It details to research about some of the Bermudian passengers on the historic Windrush voyage to the U.K.

Windrush link with Bermuda | The Royal Gazette:Bermuda News

A Bermuda link to a Caribbean influx to Britain 70 years ago has surfaced after a scandal erupted in the UK about the treatment of the emigrants.The BBC said the liner HMT Empire Windrush, which took hundreds from the Caribbean to Britain in 1948, took aboard 139 passengers who gave Bermuda as their last place of residence.The broadcaster reported a total of 1,027 passengers on the vessel, including two stowaways, which brought a wave of West Indian people to help rebuild

 

Teaching About Migration

thumbnail of Windrush bound

 

This document has a large number of reproductions of source material.  Read More

The British Council pack contains ideas for discussion around migration. It focuses on the Windrush migration in 1948, celebrating the contribution the Caribbean migrants have made to the prosperity of Britain. Migration Pack - Read more.

About 10 days out, the ship supposedly developed engine trouble and pulled into Bermuda. but the word among the passengers was that the government had had second thoughts and was cancelling the exercise. Mr King recalls: "Once we sailed from Bermuda we saw on the horizon HMS Sheffield, a battleship, watching us. People got really scared and we would listen to the wireless where we heard that a lot of British people did not want the boat to dock at all.

 Sam King, co-founder of the charitable Windrush Foundation

"

windrush Bermuda

HMS Sheffield Circa 1948

Windrush Lesson Activities

  • The Windrush Game  activity looking at the experiences of Windrush migrants over 40 years
  • recording table  for students to note down experiences of character in Windrush game
  • Writing frame  to accompany game helping students to write a letter about their experiences
  • Lyrics  to 'London is the place for me' by Lord Kitchener and source questions
  • Lesson plan  for Windrush Game activities
  • A lesson  about the contributions that Black and Asian people have made to Britain
  • A thinking skills citizenship activity  using the TASC Wheel, which asks students to create a campaign to support 'Windrush Day', a national holiday to celebrate multicultural Britain

Using the task Wheel for a Windrush Project.

TASC stands for ‘Thinking Actively in a Social Context’. This is an approach which can be used when planning, to create experiences that will challenge and engage students – making links with social learning theories such as Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development.

 

See an example of a Tasc wheel project using the theme of Windrush.  Read more