Step into a Windrush generation front room as interactive exhibition opens at Horniman Museum

Journey back in time and take a seat in a recreation of Windrush generation living room this weekend.

The Horniman Museum in Forest Hill hosts the touring interactive exhibition, as visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the reconstruction of a 1940/50s British-West Indian front room, complete with music, clothes and other original objects.

The exhibition is part of a series marking 75 years since the HMT Empire Windrush docked in Britain on 22 June 1948. According to the National Archives, the ship carried 1,027 passengers from the Caribbean to Britain – and the Windrush became the symbol of mass-migration movement.

The original Windrush passengers, as well as those on other ships which came to the UK until 1971, became known as the Windrush generation.

Curators hope the exhibit, which also coincides with Black History Month, will teach the Lewisham community and beyond about the experiences of those who travelled to the UK from the Caribbean during this time.

Lewisham resident Gideon Tyler said: “My parents are still alive and travelled all the way from St. Lucia during the Windrush. Seeing more light shed on how our community has helped build and shape this country means so much to me and my family.”

He continued: “I hope the next generation takes the steps to educate themselves on their Caribbean heritage and the hardships faced by generations before them. Exhibitions that are engaging like this, make steps in the right direction to ensure this happens.”

HMT Empire Windrush – the largest ship that brought people of the Caribbean to the UK. Pic: Royal Navy/Wikicommons

Events marking the 75th Windrush anniversary have sought to highlight the experiences of post-war migrants who came from across the Commonwealth and their contributions to Britain ever since.

Councillor Brenda Dacres, Deputy Mayor of Lewisham, said: “We really owe the pioneers of the Windrush Generation a debt of gratitude for all that they have done and continue to do for our community and our country.”

The Windrush Front Room is part of the Windrush Collection – a mobile exhibition with all original artefacts including the legendary Caribbean Front Room/ Living Room. The Caribbean bedroom and kitchen are also now part of the collection at the Black Cultural Archives.

Founder and curator Tony Fairweather will be telling stories about the Windrush Front Room and reading from his bestselling novel ‘Twenty-Eight Pounds Ten Shillings: A Windrush Story’ during the exhibition.

He will be talking about London in the 1950s through to the 1980s, and describing the Windrush journey and life in London.

Patrick Vernon, Windrush 75 Network Convenor, said: “The Windrush is a major part of Britain’s history that every child should learn about at school. The 75th anniversary is something every institution should mark in a significant way in 2023”.

The exhibition will run on October 21 and 22 from 10.30am-4.30 pm.

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