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Windrush book tells stories of move to Lancashire in the 1950s and 60s

Posted on - 18th November, 2022 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - History, Preston News, Proud Preston, UCLan
The book eatures 11 narratives about the lives of women and men from the Windrush generation
The book features 11 narratives about the lives of women and men from the Windrush generation

A book which tells the stories of the Windrush generation who came to live in Lancashire has been launched in Preston.

A team of University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) researchers have worked with Preston’s Black History Group (PBHG) to create ‘England is my home: Windrush lives in Lancashire’.

The book features 11 narratives about the lives of women and men from the Windrush generation who came to Lancashire in the 1950s and 60s.

In each chapter, they discuss their upbringing, departure from the Caribbean and arrival in Britain, social and family life in Preston, reflections on the meaning of home and belonging, and challenges of finding work and accommodation. 

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Preston’s Black History Group Chair Clinton Smith with UCLan’s Jenny Webster and Professor Alan Rice at the book launch
Preston’s Black History Group Chair Clinton Smith with UCLan’s Jenny Webster and Professor Alan Rice at the book launch

They tell of suffering and overcoming adversity and prejudice, as well as community self- organisation over the decades and how sport, religion, and workplace environments forged lasting friendships.

These narrative chapters are preceded by a historical introduction by Professor Alan Rice, Director of UCLan’s  Migration, Diaspora and Exile (MIDEX) and the Institute for Black Atlantic Research (IBAR) centres, and former UCLan lecturer Dr Jack Hepworth, who carried out the interviews with the 11 participants in early 2022.

The book also includes a foreword by PBHG chair Clinton Smith, who originated the project with Alan in 2020 and then worked with Jack during the interviews.

Alan said: “It was very moving to be co-leader with Preston Black History Group chair, Clinton Smith, on this project. It was really important to get these narratives captured, and all involved have made a beautiful publication which makes an important contribution to telling stories of Black History beyond the big cities.”

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Interviewees Jane Wade and Bridgette and Sylius Toussaint sign copies of the book
Interviewees Jane Wade and Bridgette and Sylius Toussaint sign copies of the book

Transcriptions of the interview recordings were produced by UCLan research associate Jenny Webster, and abridged by Jack in consultation with each interviewee to create their narratives.

The chapters are all illustrated with photos by PBHG’s photographer Tony Maiden, and the book was graphically designed and typeset by UCLan publishing student Amy Rice.

The launch event at Jalgos, one of several Black History Month events hosted by PBHG, featured talks by members of the book team and a reading by Louise Garvey of the poems ‘Mama Tama, A Window in Time’ and ‘The Cotton Worker’. 

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The audience was then invited to have their copies of the book signed by the interviewees. 

Clinton said: “I am incredibly proud of the way our book launch went, and I was very encouraged by the positive comments I overheard as I moved around the room, and also the comments that were made directly to myself about the quality of the evening and the book.

“This is due to the combined talents and dedication of our project team, as well as the great support of PBHG’s Bernie Velvick and Christina Cooper.” 

The book costs £10 per copy, and sales inquiries can be directed to Clinton by email at clinton@prestonblackhistorygroup.org.uk

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