Peterborough Windrush

Windrush Learning Resource

This resource supports the teaching of migration after the second world war, from the Caribbean to Britain. The aim is to extend learners understanding of the Windrush Generation, to develop empathy, and to raise awareness of the contributions the Caribbean community has made to the UK and Peterborough. These resources were produced as part of the Peterborough Windrush 22 exhibition.

Using this Resource

This resource is based around the video ‘Britain’s Windrush Veterans’ and the ‘Of The Windrush Generation’ section, both found at

We mainly focus our attention on Cliff Walker’s journey. Cliff is featured in the video and has lived in Peterborough for over 40 years. Cliff was 15 years old when he first arrived from Antigua. Answers to specific questions to look out for on the video are given in brackets.

Any learners who have family members or neighbours from the Windrush Generation? explore other valuable primary sources that can be added and used alongside studying this topic.

These sources and resources act as a springboard for discussion, further enquiry, and an opportunity for learning from historical sources, including first-hand accounts from the people who made the journey.

For school use, we have selected certain sections of the video which support the three themes. The times in the brackets will help you identify the clips to watch. Other parts of the video to watch are up to viewer discretion.
WARNING: This video contains the use of two racial terms between 5:45 – 5:51.

Before leaving - Life in the Caribbean

The ‘Windrush’ generation are those who arrived in the UK from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1973.
Find the Caribbean islands on a world map. How would you describe its location? Try to use common geography terms.
Cliff grew up as a young boy in Antigua. Find Antigua on the map of the Caribbean.

Image Credit: By Kmusser - Own work, all data from Vector Map., CC BY-SA 3.0,

What was it like to grow up in the Caribbean for Cliff and other children? Watch the video (1:57 – 2:10mins), here Louis and Herbie Providence talk about their life before moving to the UK. Listen out for the following answers to these questions:

  • What can Herbie remember doing every day as a child? (going for a swim)
  • What do Herbie and Louis remember about school? (Geography and history lessons were very Anglocentric, photo of the Queen and Trafalgar Square on the walls)

After World War 2, Britain needed labour to rebuild and work in vital industries such as nursing and transport. Government had invited workers to come from the Caribbean to the UK to help fill these post war shortages. They were able to bring their children with them, just like Cliff, Herbie and Louis. The Caribbean countries were at the time a part of the British Commonwealth.

At first, people were directed to the big cities and towns and places where there was a shortage in the labour force. One employer in London, British Rail, recruited men to work in Peterborough. But other companies; Brotherhood, baker Perkins, London Brick and the NHS also had vacancies and people came to the city to find work.

Before Leaving: Suggested Activities

Design a Poster

Design a poster encouraging people to work in Peterborough – the railway, NHS, Baker Perkins, Brotherhood. These industries and services employed the Windrush Generation.

A New Home

Why did people leave the Caribbean for the UK? What are your thoughts? What other reasons can you think of that would make people choose to leave their homes? Imagine you have just arrived at your new home, how would you feel?

Pack for your Journey

Packing for the journey. People were able to take up to 2 small suitcases, no more. Children had 1 suitcase.

Imagine you are moving to a new country. What would you pack in your suitcase?

Class activity – with an actual small suitcase, have items to select from, such as items of clothing, toys, a teddy, a brush, several books etc. As a class, decide what goes into the suitcase. Have more items that can fit inside so that a decision must be made about what is left behind.

Individual activity - draw an outline of a suitcase on a piece of paper and draw what you would pack. What would you have to leave behind? How does that make you feel?

Additional Resources

Additional resources to link with life in the Caribbean

Images of the Caribbean can be found at (sources 1a,b and c). These can be compared with pictures of London and Peterborough at the time.

Posters were used to encourage people to take up work. Look at a British Library resource photo from 1938, persuading women from the Caribbean to work in ammunition factories. How is it persuading the women?

The Journey

On a world map or the map below, zoom out and locate Britain. The map starts in Antigua. What is the name of the ocean that lies between the Caribbean and Britain?

On the 22 June 1948 the first groups arrive at Tilbury in Essex. They sailed from the Caribbean on ship MV Empire Windrush. Plot its journey from the Caribbean to the South-east coast with your finger. The journey took 22 days and afterwards a train then took them to London. Can you identify London on the map.

Look at the photos below, of some of the Windrush passengers.
What do the photographs tell us? What can they not tell us? Discuss in pairs, in groups or as a whole class. What do you notice about their clothing? What words would you use to describe the expressions of the passengers, what emotions are they expressing? work in pairs or small groups, discussing you interpretations. Share and collate a list of words as a class.

Role-play different scenarios of the photos. What could the people be saying? Bring the photos to life with thoughts, sayings and actions. Use some of the words from the list that you have collated

Cliff was only 15 years old when he left Antigua. Watch the video (2:20 – 3:12mins), here a child of similar age to Cliff is interviewed after they have arrived in Britain. Whilst watching this part of the video, look and listen for the following :

  • Who is he travelling with? (he seems to be travelling alone)
  • Who is the boy meeting in Britain? (his mum and dad)

Did you hear the song in the background in this clip? It is a song by Lord Kitchener who was on board the Empire Windrush in 1948. Play the clip again and listen to the lyrics of the song. What is the tone of the song?

Journey: Suggested Activities

Role Play

As part of your discussions think about how they may be feeling? What do you think of the interviewer’s questions? What else could the interviewer have asked? Put yourself into the role of interviewer, what questions would you ask a passenger? now swap roles, as a passenger how would these questions make you feel?
Remember you have just left your home and have been traveling for a very long time.

Additional Resources

Additional resources to link with the journey:

Postcard of the Empire Windrush, purchased on board

Watch Lord Kitchener sing the song ‘London is the Place for Me’ as he disembarks the Empire Windrush in 1948.

Arriving in Britain

Watch the video (3:12 – 3:50) and listen to Cliff’s first impressions and experience of arriving in Britain. Share and discuss your thoughts with others in a small group or as a class.

  • What two things did he think when he first arrived? What had he never seen before?
  • Did you see the images of all the suitcases at the station? Imagine all those precise, treasured items inside.

Look at the photos below, these show London during the Windrush period. What do you see in the photos? How do they compare with the photos of the Caribbean seen in the video?

In the month following their arrival, many passengers dreams of a better life were dashed, with many facing racial prejudice. Watch the video (3:50 – 5:30), here you will hear Herbie’s, Winston’s and Louis’ experiences of the first few months of living in the UK. This clip deals with the racial prejudices they faced at the time.

  • What contributions have Peterborough’s Windrush generation made to their and Peterborough’s community?

Visit the Peterborough Windrush Exhibition page and read see the profiles of some of Peterborough's Windrush generation residents.

In groups, look at one of the residents and highlight on the contributions that person has made to the Caribbean community and to Peterborough as a whole. Share your insights with the other groups. What attributes are each of the residents showing? What does this mean to us? These attributes can be presented and displayed on the classroom wall.

Today, The Millennium Centre is regarded as home for the Caribbean community.

Watch the video (21:40 – 23:20), what activities can you see happening at The Millennium Centre? Why do you think it is regarded as ‘home’?

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