Q&A | ‘We are keen for Windrush 75 to be celebrated by everyone in the UK’ - Museums Association

Q&A | ‘We are keen for Windrush 75 to be celebrated by everyone in the UK’

A new network aims to make 2023 a year of Windrush celebrations marking its 75th anniversary
Rehearsal of the Windrush Playback Stories Project, by 429 Korna Klub in Brixton, which is a member of the Windrush 75 Network
Rehearsal of the Windrush Playback Stories Project, by 429 Korna Klub in Brixton, which is a member of the Windrush 75 Network

The ship HMT Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury Docks in London on 22 June 1948, bringing 500 passengers from the Caribbean. The year 2023 will mark 75 years since the Windrush arrived.

British Future, a thinktank for an inclusive Britain, has founded the Windrush 75 network to kickstart celebrations on Windrush Day next year.

Windrush Day has become symbolic in Black British history and the contribution those emigres have made to modern British society.

British Future hopes the Windrush 75 network will encourage the maximum possible participation in Windrush Day as a national moment, broadening public recognition of the contribution of the original Windrush Pioneers, as well as increasing public understanding of the history of race and migration to Britain across the decades.

Steve Ballinger, the director of communications at British Future, tells us more about how the network started up.

Why did you decide to create the Windrush 75 network?

Steve Ballinger: The 75th anniversary of the Windrush is an important moment in the history of migration to Britain, marking the day in 1948 when the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury, bringing the first significant group of post-war migrants from the Caribbean to Britain. We feel it needs to be celebrated. There are dozens of brilliant organisations and individuals around the country doing great work to celebrate Windrush. But we felt that they could have a bigger voice if there was a network that brought them together to enable more collaboration. 

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How did it come about?

Network convenor Patrick Vernon was instrumental in the successful campaign for Windrush Day on 22 June to be officially recognised. With the major 75th anniversary coming around next year, Patrick, British Future and others in the group wanted to ensure this was marked in a significant way by bringing interested parties together to help to raise the public profile of the Windrush anniversary, so it is marked right across the country.

While the majority of our members are based in England and Wales, we welcome people to join from all across the UK. We have members from a wide variety of locations – from Somerset and Bristol, to Luton and London, to Birmingham and Bradford. We have a couple of members in Jamaica too.

What are its aims and objectives?

The Windrush 75 network aims to make 2023 a year of celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of the Windrush. Everybody is invited to take part. The network helps to broaden public recognition of the contribution of the original Windrush Pioneers, as well as increasing public understanding of the history of race and migration to Britain across the decades.

Windrush Day is a particularly significant moment for many Black Britons and we want to support the community in marking it. It is also a key part of British history, a moment that helped create the modern and multi-ethnic society we live in today – so we are also keen for Windrush 75 to be recognised and celebrated by everyone in the UK.

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Which museums are you working with?

Tony Butler, the executive director of Derby Museums Trust, is a member of the Windrush75 steering group. With Tony, we are looking to convene a meeting of various museums who are interested in marking the 75th anniversary of Windrush, to share plans and encourage others to get involved. We would welcome museums to contact us, join the network, share their plans and find out what others are doing in their area.

What are your future plans?

Our plan is to make Windrush 75 a major national moment, celebrating our shared history, to which everyone is invited. As well as museums, we will be talking to major businesses and brands to encourage them to step up and get involved; and we hope to be working with schools to ensure that children across the UK hear about the Windrush story next year.

Beyond Windrush Day 2023 we hope to hold a major conference that looks ahead over the next 25 years to how we will mark the Windrush centenary in 2048.

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