A picture of the windrush flag being raised

The city of Coventry today marked the 75th anniversary of the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush.

HMT Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex on 22 June 1948, carrying 800 passengers from the Caribbean.

They were among the first of many people from British Commonwealth countries who travelled to the UK between 1948 and 1971, encouraged by the 1948 British Nationality Act that granted citizenship and right of abode to all members of the British Empire. 

On arrival in the UK however, people were often met with racism, lack of acknowledgement of their professional skills and very different living conditions.

Windrush Day has become a key symbolic moment in the story of the Black British contribution to this country.

The 75th anniversary is being marked at events across the country, giving people the chance to join together as communities and celebrate the way the Windrush generation and those who followed have helped shape modern-day Britain.

Coventry is flying the Windrush Flag outside the Council House, and a Civic Reception is being planned for later in the summer for representatives of those first arrivals and their descendants.

Cllr Abdul Salam Khan, Deputy Leader of Coventry City Council, said: “HMT Empire  Windrush has become a symbol of the many people who travelled to the UK to help our country rebuild after the Second World War.

“They faced many hardships and had to overcome so many challenges, but they helped our industries and our cities to come back from those dark days and to flourish once more – and Coventry was one of those to benefit from their arrival.

“The city is indebted to their efforts. They not only helped our city to rebuild physically, but they also helped create the amazing vibrant, multicultural home we have today.

“Those on Windrush, the others who followed and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have made us a welcoming city of friendship and equality. They have helped create a city of peace and reconciliation and of sanctuary. They have shared their culture, their arts, their music and food. They have shared their celebrations and they have enriched our lives.

“It is an honour to mark Windrush Day and I hope people across the city will find time to pause and pay their own tribute to those first courageous people who made the trip to start a new life with us.”

More information on HMT Empire Windrush and the anniversary celebrations can be found on the Royal Museums Greenwich website and the Windrush 75 Network website.

Published: Thursday, 22nd June 2023