New exhibition honours Windrush’s Unsung Heroes

Published: Wednesday 22 June 2022

As the home of the Notting Hill Carnival, Kensington and Chelsea has long experienced close ties with the Caribbean community. To celebrate Windrush Day and the contribution Afro-Caribbeans have made to the borough, we have partnered with Westminster Council to launch an exhibition in North Kensington library, sharing stories and mementos honouring the Windrush legacy.

Windrush Generation: Unsung Heroes opens on Windrush Day, 22 June 2022 shining the spotlight on the lives and experiences of everyday heroes who included doctors, nurses, soldiers, politicians and athletes who came to London between 1948 and 1970 upon invitation from the British Government to rebuild a country ravaged by war.

They were asked to join the transportation industry, the fledgling NHS and other key areas. However, difficulties in finding adequate housing, fair employment and racism were challenges the Windrush Generation had to face and many could not return, as they had sold everything to start their lives in Britain.  

Along with the Windrush Generation came music, food and a culture which now forms part of a local tapestry that many Londoners take for granted without knowing the origins.

The Windrush Generation: Unsung Heroes exhibition, will bring light to just some of their contributions before they are lost to history.  

Stories have been gathered from London’s first Black train driver, Kensington and Chelsea resident Wilston Samuel Jackson and Pepper Pot Community Centre founder Pansy Jeffrey. She was a peacemaker after the Notting Hill riots and supported the creation of the first Notting Hill Carnival.

These rich, local stories and more will be preserved within this exhibition, which will run until the end of October’s Black History Month.

Cllr Josh Rendall, Lead Member for Local Economy and Employment, said:

“This exhibition honours the contributions of our many Afro-Caribbean communities who have lived, worked and raised families in our borough and helped to make it the vibrant, multi-cultural environment we know and love. 

“Windrush Generation: Unsung Heroes is a fascinating opportunity to learn about the lives and experiences of our local residents and will serve as a cultural archive beyond Windrush Day.”

The artefacts that will be displayed include photographs, passports, tickets, suitcases, clothing, books, records, cooking utensils and carnival costumes. They all belong to residents and community organisations, and will be accompanied by signage telling the story of each owner. In addition, the libraries will host guest speakers and a special events series.

Guest Speakers and Special Events (more to come):

Nature's Wild: Love, Sex and Law in the Caribbean - Webinar with author Andil Gosine 
Thu 23 June, 13:00 – 14:00 
Register here (virtual attendance only)

Small Island by Andrea Levy – Talk hosted by the WCC Cultural Book Club
Tue July 26, 17:00 – 18:30 
Queen’s Park Library (in-person attendance only), no registration required 

My Skin, Your Skin – Talk with children’s author Laura Henry-Allain MBE
Date TBD
North Kensington Library (in-person attendance only), registration details to follow

Kensington and Chelsea