Mapping 1948 Windrush arrivals online for the first time 

Monday 15 June 2020
© The Institute of Historical Research

Layers of London, the website which brings together historic maps and data related to London, is celebrating the 72nd anniversary of the arrival of the MV Empire Windrush by releasing a new map layer showing some of the 1,027 passengers who were on board. 

The ship arrived 25 miles downstream from London Bridge on 22 June 1948, bringing the first groups of migrants from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean islands, as a response to post-war labour shortages in the UK. And it has given its name to the generation of people who arrived from the Caribbean to settle in the UK between 1948 and 1971; sometimes referred to as the rise of post-war multi-ethnic Britain. 

The new map layer shows the name, occupation, date of birth and the address to which each of the passengers was travelling. It also includes a recreated landing card – the originals having been destroyed by the Home Office in 2010. 

Of the 1,027 passengers, around 350 of them gave a London address and more than 100 were housed in a deep shelter on Clapham Common. Based on a new transcription of the Windrush passenger list held at The National Archives, the landing cards reflect a single pivotal moment in the life of each passenger; a snapshot of hope, opportunity and uncertainty. 

The data is the result of the Windrush: Arrival 1948 Project co-curated by Dr John Price, senior lecturer in the history department at Goldsmiths, University of London. 

‘This new map layer provides fascinating insights into the onward journeys and everyday lives of those who arrived on the Empire Windrush,’ explains Dr Price, who takes a ‘people’s history’ approach to 19th and 20th-century British history. 

‘Along with our Windrush passenger database it provides a valuable teaching resource for schools, and a talking point for projects on migration and identity, as well as being invaluable for those researching family and social history.’

Based at the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study, Layers of London is a huge, multi-partner project with a rather ambitious aim: to map London's history over the past 500 years. As well as browsing through the past, members of the public can view records contributed by Londoners from all walks of life or add their own stories and histories to the website. 

Adam Corsini, public engagement officer for the Layers of London project says, ‘We are trying to encourage as many people as possible to share information about arriving in London, and of course the Windrush dataset is both really important and fascinating. However, as a public history project, everyone’s story is important, and we are trying to capture everyday stories through our crowdsourced initiative #London Arrivals.’

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For more information about #London Arrivals, please contact: adam.corsini@sas.ac.uk