On this day in 1948, 802 people arrived at the port of Tilbury onboard the Empire Windrush, a troopship that had docked in Kingston, Jamaica on its way from Australia to England. The arrival of the Windrush in the Caribbean had been preceded by a newspaper advertisement offering relatively cheap transport for those wishing to work in the United Kingdom; itself a direct result of the British Nationality Act 1948, which granted citizenship of the UK and its Colonies to all people living in both the former and the latter. That citizenship brought with it the right of entry and settlement in the UK, attracting many West Indians seeking better work and life prospects.
This migration continued throughout the 1940s and 1950s, into the early 1960s, when the enacting of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act (1962) restricted the arrival of Caribbean people.
Even so, by that date, a generation of African-Caribbeans had made Britain their home, including Leeds. You can read more about the struggles and achievements of those Leeds pioneers in a previous article on this blog – which also provides a short reading list of books available in the Central Library collections on the same subject. The same reading list can be found in our African-Caribbean Family History guide, which offers a starting point for anyone investigating their Caribbean and African roots.
Online workshops for beginners to African-Caribbean genealogy are in the pipeline from our Librarian team – please check our Twitter, Facebook and Ticketsource pages for updates. You can also sign upto our mailing list and be the first to find out about upcoming Local and Family History events by emailing the department at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by leaving a voicemail on 0113 37 86982.
Further resources that can help you discover more about the history of African-Caribbean people in Leeds are:
- The Windrush Learning Resource Pack – created by the Geraldine Connor Foundation
- The Eulogy Book – Leeds Inspired blog by Susan Pitter, exploring the lives of first-generation African-Caribbean settlers in Leeds, based on her book of the same name (which was itself based on a 2019 exhibition at Leeds Central Library)
- Windrush Day 2020 – full list of all events taking place around Leeds (online) to celebrate Windrush Day 2020
Finally, please check our new and permanent tab that lists all our articles relating to Black History in Leeds and the Central Library collections.