Experiences of immigration to the UK
Between 1948 and 1970 nearly half a million people left their homes in the West Indies to live in Britain. The West Indies consists of more than 20 islands in the Caribbean, including Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad. These people changed the face of modern Britain. They were all British citizens and, although they had never lived in Britain before, they had the right to enter, work and settle here if they wanted to.
West Indians came to Britain for many different reasons. Some were seeking better opportunities for themselves and their children. Some came to work for a while, save money and return home. Some had been recruited because Britain was short of workers to run the transport system, postal service and hospitals. Other West Indians were returning soldiers who had fought for Britain during the Second World War (1939-1945).
- What animals can you see? What do you think they might be used for?
- What different forms of transport can you see?
- Look at the houses in the photographs. What are they made from?
- Do you think it would be comfortable to live in these houses? Give your reasons.
- Compare where you live to the city shown in photograph 1c. Is it similar or different?
- Look at the way the people in the photographs are dressed. Why do you think they dressed this way?
1. Look at Source 1 a, b and c. These photographs were all taken in Jamaica around 1950. They show the way people on the islands were used to living. Look at the photographs carefully and answer the following questions:
- Compare these photographs to the ones you looked at in Source 1. How are they different?
- How are the types of transport different to the ones in Jamaica?
- What are these buildings made out of? Why do you think there is a difference?
2. Look at Source 2 a, b and c. These photographs are of London and Leeds and were taken between 1946 and the 1960s.
- Look at the Country of Last Permanent Residence column on the list. Which parts of the West Indies did most of these people come from?
- Write a list of the kind of jobs you think people coming to the UK would do.
- Compare the list you have written to the occupations (jobs) shown on the passenger list, are they the same? (HINT : H.D. means Household Domestic, someone like a servant or a cleaner).
3. Look at Source 3. This is one of the pages from the passenger list of the Empire Windrush, a ship which brought people from the West Indies to the UK.
- What difficulties would the people who came to Britain face?
4. Read Source 4. This is a report on conditions for black people living in Stepney, East London from 1949.
- Do you think Obidiah Jones was happy with his new job?
- What clues are there to show he was settling in?