Windrush 75 Anniversary: Oral Histories Project
On Thursday 22 June 2023, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the HMT Empire Windrush's arrival in Britain on 22 June 1948. The Windrush generation is defined as people who arrived in the UK from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1971 and their children. To recognise the significance of the Windrush generation in the UK, Haberdashers' Academies Trust South took part in a Trust-wide oral histories event where films and projects about the Windrush histories of our community are showcased in our schools.
The art of collecting oral histories
Partnering with The Museum of London's Culture Mile Learning’ and Eastside Community Heritage, teachers from our primary and secondary schools took part in two workshops. The workshops demonstrated how teachers could use oral histories in the classroom uisng the Museum of London’s Windrush Stories collection and how to carry out oral history interviews. The students also took part in workshops teaching them about the Windrush generation and how to collect oral histories.
Filming the oral history interviews
The final piece of the project was collecting oral histories from members of the Windrush and post-war migration generation. The students who took part in the oral history training conducted the interviews, which can be viewed below. Thank you to the members of our community who shared their stories with us.
This project commemorates the anniversary, ensures the histories live on forever. It is an excellent springboard for future projects using the collection of peoples histories to educate our children and young people.
If you would like to share your history, don't hesitate to contact Emma Fearnley, Director of Enrichment, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Windrush Oral Histories
Nadine Hibbert - A parent
My grandmother (Norma Hibbert) grew up in a middle-class household in Jamaica. When the call came to help rebuild the motherland, she thought it was her duty to come. She flew from Jamaica to attend her pre-organised job at the Royal Air Force in their Stafford base. She later went on to do nursing at St George’s Hospital. When she was stable with housing, she contacted her mother, Doris, to send over the children. My mother followed in her footsteps, became a midwife, and spent 30+ years working in the NHS. I am the 3rd female but the last of the Windrush Generation. I give voluntarily to my local community in Lewisham. I am proud to use the skills I have learned while working for the Office of Security and Counterterrorism to benefit others in the wider community.
I want to thank my mother and her friends, all midwives, for instilling in me from an early age the importance of caring and compassionate and trying to leave the world a better place whenever possible.
Garfield Hall - A Parent
In 1960, my grandmother came to the UK from Jamaica after separating from my grandfather. She had a prearranged job as a Hospital Orderly at Lewisham Hospital. Her Sister and her husband were already living in Lewisham on Mount Pleasant Road, with 2 houses where many family members stayed until they could move on. Her sister also worked at Lewisham Hospital, and my grandmother's cousin also worked for the NHS.
In 1962, my grandmother established herself in England and sent for her daughter (my aunt) to join her. In the following years, she also brought her two sons (my uncle & father) to England. My father, who had a great passion for cricket and football, arrived in England at the age of 12 in March 1966. He was a fan of Liverpool after listening to their 1965 FA match against Leeds on the World Service in Jamaica. He even named me Garfield after Sir Garfield Sobers, his cricket hero.
After meeting my Mum (who was born in Sheffield and grew up in Durham) in 1972 my parents married in December 1973 in Lewisham Registry Office. I was born in Oct 1975 in Lewisham Hospital and my sister was in Greenwich District Hospital in 1984. Many of my cousins were born in Lewisham, and the surrounding area now have our own families. My family have all benefitted from the sacrifice made by our elders to help build lives in the UK after being invited to help rebuild the country after WWII.
The gratitude I have for my grandmother for her strength and determination is beyond words, as she has given me the life I have today.
Jacqueline Bowens - A Teacher at Hatcham College
Jacqui Bowens is the head of the Faculty for Creative and Visual Arts and has worked at Hatcham College for 9 years.
One of the last of the Windrush generation in her family, she and her family have lived in the borough of Lewisham since the 1970s after both her parents migrated from Jamaica in the early 1960s.
Photo: Jacqueline Bowens with her father
Crayford Primary Whole School Windrush Project - a summary
All staff attended the Windrush training and mapped out how to deliver the content in different curriculum areas. The focus as a school was on developing writing skills, and everyone was tasked with writing a chronological report as this would show clear progression in writing and allow the children to record their knowledge of the Windrush event accurately. They particularly enjoyed hearing 'Sam's story' and other authentic stories from the training provided. They planned to share the authentic stories with the children through assembly, and History and English lessons to develop a deeper understanding of what life was like for the Windrush generation.
The training encouraged me to reflect on our EDI Strategy and ensure authentic stories are delivered and celebrated during the academic year. The Windrush 75 Network has described it as an opportunity to 'spark a wider conversation about the past, present and future of our multi-ethnic society', which resonated with me, particularly the importance of these conversations through our teaching of the wider curriculum. We used the sources and resources provided to plan and deliver history lessons as a school. Then, each year group focussed on key details to devise their non-chronological reports. Following this, teachers will select one child from their class to read their report to the whole school during our celebration assembly, and these reports will be on display for our visitors to learn more about the event.
- Kate Ellis, Principal, Haberdashers' Crayford Primary