1954-1962: Children of Windrush


It wasn't just adults who arrived in Britain from the Caribbean after the Windrush during the 1950s - it was children too.  Some arrived with one or both parents, others arrived alone to join parents already in Britain.  Part of what subsequently became known as the “Windrush Generation”, the children made their lives in Britain, some working for over 40 years and paying taxes.

In 2010 the Home Office introduced its hostile environment policy, with "the aim to create, here in Britain, a really hostile environment for illegal immigrants".  These chidlren, although here legally, were caught up in this new 'environment'.

The onus of proving people’s status was placed on employers and landlords, with large fines if they employed or housed someone deemed illegal.  This was a seismic shift in policy and culture in the Home Office.  People were required to provide evidence of their right to stay - records of National Insurance payments were deemed insufficient in at least one instance.

Immigration officials were not allowed to use their discretion in these cases, but had to follow strict rules and the introduction of 'targets' for deportations. Some people lost their homes and jobs and were denied healthcare on the NHS.  Some were deported.

Since the predicament of the Windrush Generation has been brought to public notice, one Home Secretary has resigned and a Windrush Taskforce has been set up to assist those who want to obtain documents giving a right to stay.  

The quotes shown here describe graphically the result of the 'hostile environment' for the children  of Windrush.


Sep 22 1958 - 'A party of 583 emigrants from Jamaica arrived at Newhaven today'

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 Sep 22 1958  (c)  TopFoto

Sep 22 1958

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'...arrived with his mother in the UK aged three from Jamaica and who has never lived anywhere else. Because he had insufficient paperwork proving he had a right to be in the UK, he was told he was an illegal immigrant with no right to live here. He lost his job...'

- Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association


Oct 21 1954 - 'Veronica Rose Rawle, from Kingston, Jamaica, in Britain to join her father, who is working in Birmingham, seen on arrival here aboard the Sibjaki. Hundred of Jamaicans, hoping to find jobs in Britain, arrived on the ship.'

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Mar 6 1962 - 'In her Sunday best hat, this spruce and tiny Jamaican girl waits patiently to disembark from the Begona when she arrived at Southampton with a party of more that 400 West Indian immigrants.'

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'...moved to Britain from Jamaica 51 years ago when she was six, and has lived here ever since...she was challenged by the benefits agency to prove she was here legally after losing her job. She was devastated when her immigration status was questioned.'

- Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association


 Nov 30 1961 - 'A first glimpse of England for this wide-eyed litle girl who arrived with another 216 Jamaicans from the West Indies at Southampton docks. They arrived in the Spanish liner Montserrat.'

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 Jan 3, 1962 - ' This little girl - one of 650 immigrants - wearing a floral blanket over her shoulders, laid down a huge travelling basket and posed for her picture aboard the Liner Ascania when it arrived here last night. The six hundred and fifty are the first large party of West Indians immigrant to reach Britain this year. they should have arrived on Christmas eve, but one of the liners propellers was damaged by tug in Barbados and he had to steam to Martinque for repairs.'   (c)  TopFoto

Jan 3, 1962 - 'This little girl - one of 650 immigrants - wearing a floral blanket over her shoulders, laid down a huge travelling basket and posed for her picture aboard the Liner Ascania when it arrived here last night. The six hundred and fifty are the first large party of West Indians immigrant to reach Britain this year. they should have arrived on Christmas eve, but one of the liners propellers was damaged by tug in Barbados and he had to steam to Martinque for repairs.'

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Oct 24 1961 - 'A West Indian mother and child catch a first glimpse of the land which is to become home, as they arrive in Southampton docks from the Spanish passenger vessel Montseraat. Nearly 300 west Indians arrived on board the Spanish ship. The immigrants are believed to be hurrying to Britain before any rumoured restrictions are made on their entry.'

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'...joined her parents in the UK from Barbados in 1963. After 52 years, a job centre employee told her that she was an “illegal immigrant” and, because her passport with evidence of leave to remain had been stolen, she was unable to work or travel.'

- Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association


Nov 30 1961 - 'Wearing a towel to keep his shoulders dry from the rain, and holding tight his wide-brimmed hat, a bewildered youngster steps ashore from a tender at Southampton docks for a first look at the land which will be his home. He was one of 217 Jamaicans who arrived from the West Indies in the Spanish liner Montserrat. When questioned most of the Jamaicans said they were planning to stay with relatives while looking for work.'

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Oct 24 1961 - 'This Jamaican women carries her suitcase and son down the gangway of the Tender "Balmoral" followed by other passengers today. The "Balmoral" had brought the immigrants from their liner moored in Cowes Roads because of bad weather. The immigrant had left the West Indies in the "Montserrat" in good weather but on arrival here it was raining very heavily and many had only light summer clothing.'

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Jun 24 1962 - 'First glimpse of Britain makes a big impression on this tiny West Indian pictured at Southampton on arrival in the Italian liner Ascania. the ship had on board about 1,100 immigrants - the largest number to reach Britain from Trinidad, barbados and St Kitts. They arrived only a week before the introduction of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, under which the British Governement has power to limit the number of Commonwealth citizens coming to Britain to work or to settle.'

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Jan 3 1962 - 'West Indian boy just arrived at Southampton. He was one of about 650 West Indian immigrants who arrived in the Italian liner Ascania before settling down to a new life in Britain.'

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 Text and curation: Amanda Uren



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