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New beginnings: The Windrush arrives at Tilbury

FAMILY AFFAIR: A Caribbean soldier, holding his baby, says goodbye to his wife in Trinidad

THE SS Empire Windrush came to Tilbury in 1948 and heralded the start of a modern multicultural Britain and on June 22, the 65th anniversary of its arrival, will be marked by a special national celebration.

But the journey on the SS Empire Windrush was not an easy one. In 1948, Britain was just beginning to recover from the Second World War. The arrival of the ship prompted some debate in parliament and complaints from some sections of British society worried about immigration. While there was plenty of work, many of the Windrush pioneers had problems with finding accommodation. The iconic sign on many bed and breakfast hotels ‘No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs’ was a product of these early tensions.

However, alongside the conflicts and the discrimination, another process was taking place.

Excluded from much of the social and economic life around them, they began to create their own opportunities- the churches, and a co-operative method of saving called the ‘pardner' system was established. The Windrush generation also began to participate in many key areas: sports, music, trade unions, local councils, and professional associations. It has been 65 years since the Windrush landed at Tilbury and in this time, the Windrush generation and their children have made an indelible contribution to culture, arts, business, politics and sports in Britain.

June 22, 2013 now marks the 65th anniversary of this iconic voyage which has contributed to the modern multicultural Britain we see today. A National Celebration is planned which will involve a number of national partners. These celebrations inspired by the Windrush will celebrate the achievements and the legacy of this generation.

The national celebrations will start from 1st June and culminate in special celebration events on Saturday 22nd and Sunday June 23, at the London Cruise Terminal at Tilbury where the Windrush landed in 1948.

The Saturday event will include a river cruise and a special Caribbean themed reception. The Cruise Terminal will also host a family day for all ages on the Sunday (June 23). This event will include calypso, gospel music, workshops, fun activities for all the family and a special Windrush exhibition. Individuals and organisations are invited to participate and experience the legacy of the Windrush generation.

‘Experience the legacy’ 65th Anniversary National celebrations. For information: 07766725173

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