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Museum brings Preston’s Windrush years to life

SET UP: Windrush exhibition

FOR THOSE of us living in England during the Windrush years, the scene above would be reminiscent of many of our homes. It was exactly that nostalgia that the Windrush Initiatives wanted to evoke in an exhibition at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston.

The exhibition centrepiece is a recreated 1960s living room decorated with furnishings recognisable to anyone who lived through this era.

“We wanted the exhibition to coincide with Black History Month but really it is just important that a local museum like the Harris showcases stories from the city’s diverse
communities,” said Adrian Murrell, inset left, CEO of Windrush Initiatives.

The project was led by Windrush Initiatives and the replica living room was put together with local resident Carol Little, who travelled throughout the UK to locate the memorabilia needed to make the room look realistic.

Featured alongside the room is a timeline of black British history, noting important lo- cal events for the Caribbean community.

Visitors to the exhibition can also watch a film of interviews with elders in the community who came here in the 1950s and people who grew up in Preston in the 1960s.

“This exhibition takes an honest, and sometimes tough, look at the experiences of Preston’s Windrush Generation. Many West Indians did jobs that white people didn’t want to do. There were many pubs in Preston that operated a ‘colour bar.’ Black people weren’t welcome. It was often hard to nd places willing to rent you rooms. So, when you did settle, your home, especially your front room, became a really important safe space.

“One of the most affecting photographs on display is from 1972 and shows black children from a local school dressed up in ‘banana hats’ for the Preston Guild parade.
“It’s just that association with people from the Caribbean with ‘banana boats’ and falling into the stereotype, without even realising, that is so offensive.”

It is free to enter the exhibition, which runs until November 25.

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