Windrush in Waltham Forest

The history of Windrush in Waltham Forest and how we are celebrating it this year.

Last updated: 24 October 2023

Next review: 23 April 2024

Windrush 75 celebrations in Waltham Forest

The history of Windrush in Waltham Forest and how we are celebrating it this year.

802 West Indian migrants stepped off the HMT Empire Windrush at the Port of Tilbury on 22 June 1948, the first of what became known as the Windrush Generation in Britain and the birth of the UK’s modern multiracial society.   

Fuelled in part by British government campaigns to address domestic labour shortages, nearly 500 thousand people moved from the Caribbean to Britain in the following two decades. Nonetheless, issues stemming from societal racism including systemic disadvantages in employment, housing and education – leading up to the 2018 Windrush scandal – remain a key factor in the legacy of Windrush.  

Today, Waltham Forest’s 25,000 strong Afro-Caribbean community make up a vibrant and valuable part of our cultural fabric. As Windrush’s 75th anniversary nears in 2023, we look to the legacy of the Windrush Generation which will surely loom large in Waltham Forest for many years to come.   

Events and activities happening in Waltham Forest

Building on the success of the very first Waltham Forest Windrush Festival last year, the Council is expanding its community-led programme in Waltham Forest in June 2023 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of HMT Empire Windrush's arrival at the Port of Tilbury in 1948 and the birth of the UK's modern multiracial society. 

Starting with Windrush Day Flag Raising Ceremony, we are partnering with a host of local community groups, museums, libraries and local schools to deliver a range of events and activities across the borough, leading up to the second ever Waltham Forest Windrush Festival showcasing the very best in Afro Caribbean music, food, art and history. 

All events below are free to attend unless otherwise noted.

Windrush Community Festival - Saturday 17 June 

On Saturday 17 June, 12pm to 4pm, Emmanuel Community School will host a Windrush Community Festival open to the whole community. A big community family celebration of history, culture, and the future together. 

Windrush Day  – Thursday 22 June 

To mark 75 years since the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush at the Port of Tilbury in 1948, Fellowship Square will hold a Flag-Raising Ceremony and Moment of Silence in honour of the Windrush Generation from 10am. 

A formal ceremony will take place from between 5pm and 7:30pm including speeches, presentations, performances and a drinks reception. The Town Hall foyer will also host Waltham Forest Twinning Association’s Windrush and Black Health Display throughout the week. 

Windrush Anchor Art Installation - Windrush 75: Passing the Baton – Friday 23 June 

From 10am, partners Trodition and Sojourner present this Windrush Anchor Art Installation in the Town Hall foyer with a welcome address and curator talk from 11:30am, and the screening of a 15-minutes short film reflecting on Journey of the Windrush Pioneer John Richards at 1pm. 

Theatre Performance - Windrush Story: Streets Paved With Gold – Friday 23 June 

Presented by Trodition and Sojourner, this one-man-play from acclaimed actor Victors Richards immerses audiences in the experience of first-generation Afro-Carribean settlers in Britain. From 7pm in the Council Chambers at Waltham Forest Town Hall. 

Waltham Forest Windrush Festival – Saturday 24 June 

Following on from the success of the inaugural Waltham Forest Windrush Festival in 2022, this year’s event will showcase the very best in Afro-Caribbean music, food art and history marking the 75th anniversary of HMT Empire Windrush's arrival at the Port of Tilbury in 1948 and the birth of the UK's modern multiracial society. 

Between 11am to 7pm, Fellowship Square will feature food and craft stalls, music and dance performances, workshops and family friendly activities brought to you by 13 community groups in partnership with Waltham Forest Council.  

O, Happy Day!! – musical tribute – Saturday 24 June 

Award-winning Soprano, Donna Bateman and Gospel Baritone, Jermaine Cole will feature in this special musical performance at Windrush Festival by The African Diaspora Festival Choir, on Saturday 24 June, at 4pm at Fellowship Square. Conducted by the acclaimed Broadway and West End vocal arranger and musical director, Chapman Roberts; the choir will be joined by an exceptional group of singers.

Freedom Walks with Peter Ashan – Saturday 24 June 

Local historian and author Peter Ashan will host three history walks to mark Windrush 75, from The Clock House, Wood Street from 10am, St Peter and St Paul Church Chingford from 1:30pm and Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge from 3:15pm. Caribbean food will be available.

Libraries programme 

From 17 June, libraries across Waltham Forest will host children’s craft workshops, exhibitions, films screenings and author events as part of the borough’s Windrush commemorations.

Packing for a New Future

Eight libraries across Waltham Forest will host this Windrush craft workshop for children throughout June.

Windrush 75 Author Event: Lea Bridge Library

Lea Bridge Library will host a celebration of authors Ola Awonubi and Akitoye Sunday on Saturday 24 June.

Stories of Windrush

A display capturing stories and experiences of Windrush will feature in eight libraries across Waltham Forest.

Film screenings

Leytonstone Library will host two film screenings as part of the Windrush 75 programme.

Paul Dash New Public Mural - June 

In June Good Shepperd Studios will inaugurate a New Public Mural celebrating the work of Paul Dash, Leytonstone resident and member of the Windrush Generation. 

Windrush 75 after party

This Windrush after party at Pepper's Ghost in Leyton will feature food, music and fun for the whole family.