Mayor of London marks 70th anniversary of Windrush at City Hall

30 June 2018

The Mayor of London today marks the 70th anniversary of the Windrush migration at City Hall.


City Hall is hosting a free event to bring to life the story of the Windrush arrival in London. 


The varied programme includes presentations, music, workshops and film screenings, in honour of the Windrush generation and those who’ve since followed.


Talks, spoken-word performances and panel discussions will take place throughout City Hall, with the conversations and personal testimonies in the Chamber chaired by broadcaster Brenda Emmanus. These include contributions from Afua Hirsch, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Sharmaine Lovegrove and Jennette Arnold and excerpt performances from Talawa Theatre.


Although tickets for ‘Arrival’ events inside City Hall have now sold out, The Scoop – the outdoor event space next to City Hall - will become a music stage with free performances throughout the day.  Viewing spaces are limited but no advance booking is required.


The event will be opened by the Mayor and Baroness Floella Benjamin, OBE. The top floor of City Hall, London’s Living Room, will be hosted by Penguin, featuring a mix of readings and talks from Linton Kwesi Johnson, Nikesh Shukla, Colin Grant and Bernardine Evaristo. Penguin will also hold workshops for children and young adults to get them thinking creatively about storytelling and getting their voice heard. Outside City Hall in The Scoop there will be a music stage including performances from Sister Audrey, Alicai Harley and Black Slate.


The central entrance to City Hall will feature an exhibition curated by gal-dem - Windrush Women. As part of the Mayor’s year-long #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign, this exhibition of portraits and illustrations will shine a light on pioneering Caribbean women. A West Indian culinary exhibition will enable guests to step inside a kitchen modelled on a West Indian home to explore the region’s heritage, culture and migration through food. The City Hall café will also be serving a range of Caribbean-inspired fare.


Audiences can listen to migration audio stories of the experience of arriving in London, giving visitors the chance to hear a range of voices, such as a Nigerian barber who arrived eight years ago, to a Jamaican war veteran and calypso star who came to London in 1933. A conversational booth invites guests to share their own stories with Voluntary Arts and BBC Radio capturing and broadcasting stories on the day about arrival in London.  Boat-making workshops will run along with archive material and Windrush suitcases from Hackney Museum.


Signposting to legal advice and other support services will also be available during the event.


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I am proud that City Hall is hosting an event to mark the 70th anniversary of Windrush. The talks, films and exhibitions will demonstrate that in London, we don’t simply tolerate each other’s differences, we celebrate them.


“The recent Windrush scandal has shone a light on an immigration system that is simply unfit for purpose and it was appalling to learn earlier this year that members of the Windrush generation were wrongly deported. I will continue to call on the Government for answers and to right the wrongs and distress they have caused.


“It is simply not right that the Windrush generation who have contributed so much to our city, our communities and our workforce, have been treated this way. This is a direct result of the hostile environment created by this government, which must stop. I will do everything I can in my role as Mayor of London to support the Caribbean community that plays a vital part in making London the great city it is.”


Matthew Ryder, QC, Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement, said: “The arrival of the Windrush generation was an iconic moment that shaped modern Britain. In light of the recent immigration scandal surrounding the treatment of the Windrush Generation, it is more important than ever to shine a light on their stories and highlight the important contribution the Caribbean community has made to our city. Their stories are not simply about immigration, but are part of this city’s history and  a vital part of our shared culture as Londoners. The “Arrival” event at City Hall will celebrate the contribution of the Windrush generation to our city, and will capture their experiences and stories during this historic anniversary.”


Arthur Torrington, CBE, Director, Windrush Foundation said: “Windrush Foundation congratulates Mayor of London Sadiq Khan as the capital celebrates on 30 June 2018 - the 70th anniversary of the Arrival of MV Empire Windrush. Keep up the good work.”


Hannah Telfer, Managing Director, Audiences and Audio, Penguin Random House UK: “It is such a privilege for Penguin to be part of Arrival and the chance to celebrate the vital contribution the Windrush generation, and their families, have made to London and to the rest of the UK, and we can’t wait for our authors to be part of elevating such an important conversation.”


Liv Little, gal-dem founder, said: “This year marks an important, pivotal moment in British history. I am thrilled that gal-dem has been able to work with some fantastic women in order to spotlight those who have paved the way for us to be where we are today. You’ll find plenty of history, art and conversations around food in gal-dems part of the event.”


Emma Winch, Heritage Learning Manager at Hackney Museum & Hackney Archives, said: “We are delighted to be part of the Windrush celebration day and to showcase the Windrush histories Hackney Museum has been collecting since the 1980s. We look forward to sharing our story suitcases and wider Caribbean collections with families on the day and bringing to life these important stories with our Windrush actors as part of the 70th anniversary event. 


Laraine Winning, Voluntary Arts, said: “Voluntary Arts is excited to be working in partnership with BBC Radio London, the Mayor of London and the other Arrival Programme Partners to celebrate London’s open and diverse identity by helping to hear and tell stories of Arrival and Welcome in London. Voluntary Arts works to recognise, showcase and support everyday participation in creative cultural activity: we believe everyone should be encouraged to express themselves creatively to tell their own stories and to bring their communities together through social creative activities. The Arrival Programme is a great opportunity for London and we are proud to be part of it.”

Notes to editors

  • The Mayor of London's opening address with Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE will be streamed live. Log on to @LDNgov to join the Facebook Live or for the webcast.


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