Windrush Day was celebrated throughout around the UK as cities up and down the land marked the day the Empire Windrush carried many hundreds of Caribbean people to a new life in the UK – following a call from the British government to rebuild the war-torn country just years following the ending of World War II.
In London's Waterloo train station The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined those from the Windrush generation, their families and local schoolchildren to unveil a statue showing a man, woman and child standing on top of suitcases and pays tribute to the thousands of people who arrived in the UK from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1971 was unveiled to mark the Windrush generation.
The monument - designed by Jamaican artist and sculptor Basil Watson – shows three figures climbing a mountain of suitcases together, to show the bond of the Windrush generation and the hopes they have for their generation as they arrive to start a new life in the UK and symbolises the courage, commitment and resilience of the thousands of men, women and children who travelled to the UK to start new lives from 1948 to 1971.
The event was live-streamed in other British cities, including Birmingham - where it took place in New Street train station – in the presence of Birmingham 2022 Chair/Lord Lieutenant, John Crabtree OBE, the Lord Mayor of Birmingham Councillor Maureen Cornish JP, National Windrush Committee member and Birmingham 2022 Deputy chair Prof. Geoff Thompson MBE and Harper Bell Primary School.
Key stakeholders, including Jean- Francois Manicom, the Lead Curator Liverpool Museums, Rev Eve Pitts, the first Black female Church of England vicar, cricket expert and author Steven Stephenson MBE, Cyrille Regis Legacy Foundation, Julia Regis and Event Organiser/Producer/Lead Engagement Manager at Birmingham 2022 Abigail Shervington continued the day’s journey through the history of Windrush at the Legacy Centre of Excellence, who hosted the celebration and commemoration of the Windrush Generation and its descendants.
Of the monument in Waterloo Station, HRH Queen Elizabeth said: "It gives me pleasure to extend my congratulations on the creation of the National Windrush Monument.
"The unveiling at Waterloo Station on Windrush Day serves as a fitting thank you to the Windrush pioneers and their descendants, in recognition of the profound contribution they have made to the United Kingdom over the decades. It is my hope that the memorial will serve to inspire present and future generations, and I send you my warmest good wishes on this historic occasion.”
In June 1948, the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury, Essex, and changed the United Kingdom forever. The ship carrying 1,027 passengers, of which 802 hailed from across the Caribbean, with the majority being men, though there were also sizeable numbers of women and children. Some were mechanics and carpenters and tailors, others were missionaries, boxers, and even piano repairers.