©National Archives

Passenger List for the SS Empire Windrush, 1948 Immediately after the Second World War, many West Indians who had seen war service in the UK returned here in search of better career opportunities. A few years later, on 22 June 1948, the first big group of people from the Caribbean (492 in all) arrived at Tilbury Docks in London seeking employment. Although the British Government had been discussing the possibility of using surplus colonial labour to meet demand, it was alarmed by such a large - and unexpected - contingent.

As British citizens, these people had the right to live and work in Britain. Yet they came up against considerable opposition from local people, especially when trying to find accommodation and good jobs.

Due to an accommodation problem, the Colonial Office was forced to house 230 settlers in a deep air raid shelter in Clapham Common. The nearest labour exchange happened to be in Brixton, which therefore became one of Britain's first West Indian communities.

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