Windrush: Arrival 1948 Exhibition
Explore recreations of 341 individual landing cards representing each passenger who arrived on the MV Empire Windrush at Tilbury docks on 22 June 1948 and settled in London.
Based on a new transcription by Goldsmiths of the Windrush passenger list held at The National Archives, the landing cards represent a single pivotal moment in the life of each passenger; a snapshot of hope, opportunity and uncertainty. It makes these individual stories more visible.
Windrush: Arrival 1948
The Windrush scandal is a stain on our nation’s conscience, shining a light on an immigration system not fit for purpose. Sadiq Khan.
In recreating and reimagining the original Windrush landing cards destroyed by the Home Office in 2010, this exhibition not only makes visible an intriguing historical record, it symbolically enfranchises and memorialises those pioneers who arrived in the UK on this seminal journey.
This exhibition presents a moment in the life of each passenger; a snapshot of hope, opportunity and uncertainty.
Each card states the passenger’s name, age, occupation and intended address in the UK. In focusing on the 341 passengers who intended to settle in London, we get a unique insight into London’s Windrush pioneers.
On 21 June 1948, 802 passengers arrived on the Windrush from the Caribbean, with Jamaica the most popular country of origin (539 people), followed by Bermuda (139), England (119), Trinidad (73), British Guiana (44) and other Caribbean and non-Caribbean countries. Some 66 passengers – largely displaced WWII Polish refugees – had boarded the ship in Mexico.
Records show that 341 of those on board had registered London addresses for their onward journey after docking at the Port of Tilbury, around 25 miles downriver of City Hall on the banks of the Thames.
Some passengers provided institutional addresses, presumably related to their employment or student status, such as Nestles Milk Co., Westminster Bank, Lloyds Bank, Imperial Hotel, Colonial Office and the War Office. Several passengers who do not appear to be related gave the same addresses, which may have been boarding houses, or they may have given an overheard address rather than admitting they had nowhere to go.
The exhibition seeks to ask questions, rather than present answers. We want it to act as a starting point for debate, rather than consolidating consensus, and to provide a wider viewpoint on Windrush, rather than retracing familiar steps.