Bedford marks 75 years of Windrush legacy

Bedford Creative Arts are working in partnership with Legacy of Windrush Descendants and Friends (LOWD), to honour the 75th Anniversary of Windrush. LOWD’s events aim to highlight the contributions made by the Windrush generations with most of the focus being on Bedford. 

In 1948, Britain was beginning to recover from the devastating effects of WW2. Cities across the country were left in ruin after being bombed and there was a need to rebuild the nation. However, there was a significant shortage of labour to rebuild the country. To help rebuild the nation, Britain called upon its colonies – including many of the Caribbean islands, including The Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica – and passed The British National act: granting anyone who lived in a British Colony the right to live and work in the UK. LOWD’s anniversary aims to highlight the contributions made by the Windrush generations in Bedford. 

On 15th April 1948, a small advertisement was placed in a newspaper announcing a ‘passenger opportunity’ to sail from Jamaica to the UK on the HMT Empire Windrush. The MV Empire Windrush was the opportunity that hundreds of young Caribbean men and women were hoping would enable them to help the ‘Motherland’ and their families ‘back home’.  

On June 22nd, 1948, 492 men and women and children were allowed to disembark the HMS Windrush. Notice the words ‘allowed to disembark’ the ship, as it arrived at Tilbury docks on the 21st of June, but due to objections in Parliament about people of colour arriving in the country. Passengers had to remain on the ship until 22nd June 1948. Sadly, the introduction of the 1948 British Nationality Act was never intended to allow people from countries with people of a darker hue to enter Britain. The Act was only intended for Canadians Australians and white South Africans. 

Upcoming Events:

LOWD, have teamed up with a few organisations to host an array of events across Bedford: 

Event Date Time Location 
Windrush Flag Raising Wednesday 21st June 10:30 – 12:00 Old Town (The Mayor’s Parlour), St. Paul’s Square, Bedford, MK40 1SQ 
Windrush Service Thursday 22nd June 19:30 – 21:00 All Saints Church, Westbourne Road, Queen’s Park, Bedford, MK40 4LD 
Windrush Weekend Day Saturday 24th June 12:30 – 16:30 Harpur Suite and Harpur Square, Bedford, MK40 1LE 
Windrush Weekend – BIG Sunday dinner Sunday 25th June 12:30 – 17:30 Harpur Suite and Harpur Square, Bedford, MK40 1LE 

The events are in memory of the Late Councillor Patrick Solomon and his wife Joan; who sadly passed away within a week of each other. Patrick played an instrumental part in securing the Windrush Motion with the backing of full Council. 

Education Pack: 

LOWD have also created an education pack celebrating the lives and telling the story of the Windrush generation who settled and lived in Bedford. The pack has been designed to be used by schools and families. LOWD designed this education pack to highlight the contributions made by the Windrush generations with most of the focus being on Bedford. 

“This pack has been created to encourage family and intergenerational learning – working together in groups. Although it only touches on a very small area of black history, I hope it will encourage people to seek more knowledge” 

Peter Stapleton (Chair of LOWD)
Education Pack