2023 marks the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Windrush generation. This year, there are many events taking place to recognise and celebrate the Empire Windrush’s sea voyage. Many people in Caribbean and Commonwealth communities found jobs in the London transport system. In this blog, we’ll share the story of two generations of one family, who have a combined 53 years of experience at TfL.
Who are the Windrush Generation?
Following the Second World War, the UK was in urgent need of repair. HMT Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex, carrying people from the Caribbean. This was one of the first groups of post-war settlers who came to start new lives, with other people from parts of the Commonwealth.
Transport London, the former name for Transport for London, was at the forefront of the recruitment drive. Along with the NHS, they needed lots of new workers to fill roles.
The Windrush generation laid the foundations for Black British society as we know it today. Legacies: London Transport’s Caribbean Workforce is an exhibition at the London Transport Museum. It celebrates the stories of Caribbean people who’ve shaped London’s transport history and British culture. Images from the exhibition are featured in this blog post.
One family story
TfL continues to employ many generations of descendants of the Windrush generation. One person is Delyth Lindo, who has been working at TfL for the past 18 years. Her father came to England from Jamaica in 1959 aged 19. He tried various jobs from working in a factory to working as a porter at an NHS hospital. As Delyth recalls; ‘He had a fascination about the London Tube network. Especially how quick and efficient it was, as well as the whole concept of travelling underground.’
His first role at TfL was as a ticket collector, based at Green Park station. Sometimes he was stationed at Leicester Square, Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus. Over his 35-year career, he worked all 11 tube lines, ending his 35-year career as a Station Manager.
‘My father took pride in wearing his uniform, especially his hat. The kids in our neighbourhood always said my father looked like he was in the army as a sergeant major, which made me laugh!’
Delyth unexpectedly joined TfL for a short 2-week contract, and 18 years later she’s now working in the Procurement & Commercial directorate. ’As my time at TfL stretched on and on before I knew it, I was 2 years in and offered a permanent position to my father’s joy.’
‘My father was so proud telling all who would listen.
How I was ‘following in his footsteps, to carve out a wonderful career that London Transport had given him.’Delyth Lindo
Allyship in action 🤝
Delyth’s father loved working for TfL. But she recalls that he did at times find it difficult to be positive, because of the struggle for inclusion and acceptance. But there were some friendships and alliances made across ethnicities.
‘My father had an incredibly good friend of Irish descent, and we would grow up to call him Uncle Patrick. He showed him the ropes when he first started at London Transport. They would take their breaks for lunch and tea together. My father said Uncle Patrick always made him laugh which made his shifts in the early days pleasant.’
‘As the years rolled by, my father made many friendships across all ethnicities. He passed on the kindness and support he received from Uncle Patrick when he joined London Transport.’
Elliot West, Customer Service Supervisor, LU, shares his thoughts on the courage and hope of The Windrush Generation in this blog post.
Preserving the Windrush Generation legacy
During her career, Delyth has worked to find opportunities to give back to the community. ‘I have listened to the stories from my father on his travel from Jamaica to England. Windrush has always held a special place in my heart for those who came before me, who built a country that I am proud to have been born into.’
Her work has led her to be TfL’s liaison for the WGLA (Windrush Generation Legacy Association) Charity. Their mission is to ensure the rich heritage of the Windrush Generation and their contribution to British culture is not forgotten and can be passed down through the generations. Their work in the community includes social support for elders in the community, working schools, and providing community events.
Join the celebration 🥳
There’s a permanent Windrush Generation Legacy Association exhibition in Croydon, in their dedicated unit in The Whitgift. There’s artefacts, furniture from a typical 1960s London Caribbean home, and stories from this generation, giving insight into this period of time.
TfL and WGLA will have a presence at Croydon Carnival of Cultures on 30 July 2023. The festival is a celebration of the rich history and diverse cultures of London, with Windrush having a presence at this year’s event.
Clapham South’s deep-level shelter, housed over 200 men from Jamaica who arrived in the UK aboard the HMT Empire Windrush. Join London Transport Museum’s Hidden London tour in August, with a 20% discount code off the booking price when using the code WINDRUSH20.
TfL will have a presence at Notting Hill Carnival 2023 in August, with representatives from each generation of the Windrush riding on an open-top bus in the parade.
Communities across Lambeth will come together for the Big Caribbean lunch on 25 June, to celebrate a moment in history and share friendship, storytelling, food, music and fun.
Share your stories 🗣
If you have a personal story or experience connected to the Windrush, we would love to hear it. Share your comments & memories in the comment section below 👇
WGLA have partnered with Penguin books to offer you the chance to win a fantastic book bundle from Penguin. To enter, submit a Windrush Legacy story, between 500-1000 words. Your entry can be handwritten, typed, an oral recording, or an email. The story must be an original real-life story about someone you know, or your own personal story, and must not have been published previously.
There will be 20 winners. Entries to be submitted no later than 5.00pm on 30th June 2023 to [email protected], or post to WGLA 1036 – 1037 Whitgift Centre, Croydon CR0 1TY.
Images in this blog © TfL from the London Transport Museum Collection.