2023 sees the 75th anniversary of the HMT Empire Windrush arriving in Britain on 22 June 1948. National Windrush Day on 22 June 2023 will formally mark the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the passengers of the Empire Windrush to the UK. The day celebrates the contribution and achievements of the Windrush generation and their descendants.
“The Windrush” is symbolic of those migrants who came by air, land, and sea, primarily from the Caribbean to fill post-war labour shortages and are recognised as migrants who pioneered the establishment of Britain’s multi-racial heritage. Southampton was a major port of entry and although many travelled on to other cities a significant number remained in Southampton and are now three and four generation strong.
Over the last 40 years Southampton has collected oral history testimony of the experiences of The Windrush generation and we have now revived the collection of these testimonies to ensure that these valuable histories are not lost at a time when survivors of the Windrush generation are now fewer in number.
Many people of the Windrush generation undervalue the importance of their contribution to the economy and culture of the region and we now call upon those who are part of that generation to come forward so that we can collect your testimonies to ensure that it becomes an essential part of the history of the city and the region.
We thought that it might be useful to give an overview of where this evidence was and at what stage we are in making this available and accessible to the general public.
Almost 50 of these oral histories, ranging from interviews carried out as part of a project in the early 1980s, to interviews collected in the 2020s, are held by Southampton Cultural Services in the City Archive.
The 1980s recordings were digitised as part of the ‘Unlocking Our Sound Heritage Project’ and are listed on the British Library website (search for ‘UTK010’). Of these recordings, 24 are now available to listen to online on the British Library website.
The oral testimonies collected most recently (12 interviews carried out between 2021–22), are not yet available online. To find out more about them, or to make an appointment to listen to the recordings, please contact Jo at Southampton City Archives.
We also have 22 oral testimonies that have been collected by Southampton Black Archives in 2023 which are being transcribed and discussions are taking place with Southampton City Council regarding accessibility and availability.
Southampton has been collecting oral history testimony from Windrush migrants for over 40 years. Southampton was once regarded as the gateway to the Caribbean, and many came through the port of Southampton mainly from Jamaica and St Vincent and they made Southampton their home. Many settled in the Newtown/Nichols Town area of the city although there are records of small clutches of Caribbean people in the Woolston Area, Millbrook /Shirley area and of course individuals dotted across the city. Much of this testimony is in the Southampton City Council archives and there is much work to be done to retrieve this information and organise it in a manner that is accessible, and we are seeking funding to this end.
Many will appreciate that people from that time are now fewer in number and that it is imperative that we urge as many as possible to come forward to record their testimony and if they wish to make that testimony anonymous that is not a problem. If you want to tell your story please contact Don at email@example.com.
Almost 50 of these oral histories, ranging from interviews carried out as part of a project in the early 1980s, to interviews collected in the 2020s, are held by Southampton Cultural Services in the City Archive. The 1980s recordings were digitised as part of the ‘Unlocking Our Sound Heritage Project’ and are listed on the British Library website (search for ‘UTK010’).
Having worked in the field of Race & Diversity for over 40 years and spent 10 years in the Treasury in Whitehall, Don moved to Southampton to work as a youth and education officer for the Southampton Council.
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If you live in the South of England and have a story to tell, or have any artifacts, photos and memorabilia relating to black history in the South, we would love to hear from you. Read More