Families who settled in Shropshire as part of the ‘Windrush’ generation were VIP guests of honour at the launch of a special exhibition at Telford College.
The Windrush Exhibition Telford & Wrekin has been created to honour the memories of families who travelled thousands of miles to help rebuild post-war Britain, and leave a legacy for future generations.
It is currently being hosted by Telford College, which staged a special launch event featuring moving testimonials from relatives of the families, plus photographs, audio and video interviews and music.
Among the speakers was Rosie Brown, whose parents Robert and Enid emigrated from Jamaica to settle in the area. Her father was one of the many Windrush workers employed at GKN Sankey.
Doreen McGowan, whose father first came to the UK in 1957, also spoke movingly of the hardships which her parents’ generation faced during the early years as they tried to integrate into British life.
The exhibition, featuring dozens of personal stories of Windrush families with Shropshire connections, will be on display at the Haybridge campus until Friday January 14.
Students will be encouraged to participate by taking a ‘journey of discovery’ and interviewing someone they know from a previous generation, to learn about how things may have changed.
Speaking at the exhibition launch, principal and chief executive Graham Guest said Telford College was proud to celebrate and share the richness of the Windrush families’ values and culture.
“The contribution these people have made to the fabric of the Britain we see today has been under-estimated for such a long time, and that deserves to be put right. People need to hear and appreciate these stories,” he said.
The Windrush Exhibition Telford & Wrekin was originally conceived by Diane Drummond, who approached a local community group to ask if anyone had images of Caribbean families who arrived in the area in the 1950s.
The idea gathered so much interest that Diane, Emma Brown, and Barbara Thomas decided to turn it into an exhibition. Diane reached out to the Telford College team, who recognised the value in hosting this important piece of history.
Diane said the exhibition honoured and remembered a ‘bold and brave generation’, and had been driven by the lack of information which previously existed about their life stories and sacrifices.
“It’s not just about the black community – it’s about all of us,” she said. “We are really proud to have this exhibition at Telford College, and it is quite special that students will be embracing the project.”
The Windrush generation were invited to travel from the Caribbean to fill Britain’s post-war labour shortage and help re-build the nation’s infrastructure from 1948 to 1973.
Many of them had paid £28 – equivalent to around £1,000 in today’s money – to make the journey in response to job adverts in local newspapers.
The name Windrush originates from the HMT Empire Windrush ship which carried one of the larges and earliest groups in 1948, because the Caribbean at the time was part of the British Commonwealth.
Those who arrived here were automatically British subjects and free to permanently live and work in the UK.
Diane said: “The Windrush Exhibition Telford & Wrekin represents a photographic exhibition of a small section of the community – a group of people who worked together to give us a better future and transform the local community through their words and deeds.
“As people, we derive from very richly diverse backgrounds which should be celebrated. Let’s start conversations with our elders and capture it in the various sophisticated forms which are now available to us. We owe it to them.”
The exhibition will also be open to the public by pre-arranged bookings. For more information,