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VIOLET. 1960s:


This is a photo of a girl taken in London whose family probably also moved from the Caribbean to London in the late 50s or early 60s.


Violet ( unlike the other characters in this website she is imaginary but based on actual families who came to live in London from the West Indies. )



Place of Birth





School girl

Place living now

South London


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Good stuff : Going to dances with her sisters, seeing the famous places in London like Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace.

Bad stuff : Mum saying goodbye when she left Jamaica and came to work in England.

Saying goodbye to her Gran in the West Indies when she went to live with her mum and little sisters in England several years later.

Violet's story is one common to many families who came to live in Britain after World War II. Some of these adults had been in the Armed Forces in Britain during the war. Afterwards, in the 1950s, with bad harvests in the Caribbean and with the promise of good jobs in England in the new National Health Service and on the railways many people returned. Bad weather in London, discrimination and the lack of good housing as well as the separation of families, with older children often having to stay behind, made the experience of migration difficult and far from the dream many had expected.

Passport photo of unknown man 1950s/1960s

Teachers notes

During the Second World War many service personnel came from all over the British Empire to fight with British forces. As the war ended they returned home. However, bad harvests in Jamaica and the surrounding area and the prospect of permanent work back in Britain caused many West Indians to consider leaving their homes in the Caribbean and resettling in London. There was work in the newly formed National Health Service and on the railways and the London Underground. From 1948, with the Empire Windrush ship arriving at Tilbury, to the mid-1960s many single men and women as well as a smaller number of families arrived. Experiences were mixed. Some people struggled to find decent places to rent and live and were appalled to find that racial discrimination meant they were always offered the worst jobs and conditions. People were homesick and missed their traditional foods and music. However undaunted other people established music clubs and cafes travelling all over the rest of London to seek out the spices and records they loved from home. Brixton soon had stalls in the market selling rice and goat meat as well as the English meat and two veg and local London-based West Indian papers advertised hot pepper sauce.

For families it could mean children staying with their grandparents in the Caribbean for months and even years while their parents got settled in Britain. Some jobs in fact were only offered to" single "applicants.

Lambeth and Brixton were two places in south London which became home to many West Indians and whose children and grandchildren still live in the area today.

Lambeth landmark search terms People ; Minorities; Brixton; Brixton market.

Books novels by Joan Riley

Global link ;Caribbean

'Twin Lens Reflex, the portrait photographs of Harry Jacobs, Lambeth Archives, 2004