Bench to be unveiled celebrating the contribution of the Windrush generation

Published: Thursday, 20th June 2019

A memorial bench is to be installed at one of Stoke-on-Trent’s biggest parks to celebrate the contribution of the Windrush generation.

The feature in the Terrace Garden, at Hanley Park, will be unveiled on Saturday, June 22 – which is national Windrush Day. The bench will bear the words: ‘First there were 492 who paved the way. Some stayed, some returned, some departed. They led the way, they faced adversity, their legacy lives on. Windrush Generation 1948 – 2019.’

Those arriving in the UK between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries have been labelled the Windrush generation. This is a reference to the ship MV Empire Windrush, which arrived at Tilbury Docks, Essex, on 22 June 1948, bringing workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands, as a response to post-war labour shortages in the UK. The ship carried 492 passengers - many of them children.

The bench is one of 20 heritage benches that will be located around the Hammersley Fountain and the Terrace Garden in the park, each with space for individual plaques and messages to be added. They are part of the ongoing £6 million restoration of the Grade II*-listed park, which is being led by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and is expected to be finished by the end of the year.

The bench has been paid for following fundraising by Robbie Campbell, who organised a Windrush generation party event at Joiners Square Community Centre last year, which celebrated reggae, soul and rhythm and blues music. Robbie, who is a member of North Staffordshire African Caribbean Association (NORSACA), has been involved with organising the Six Towns One City Carnival for the last 15 years. His parents, Cecil and Violet Campbell, came to the UK in 1959 and lived here until they passed away.

Robbie, who lives in Sneyd Green, said: “My parents totally embraced the British culture and yet never forgot their West Indian roots. These have been passed down to myself, and I have passed them to my daughters Sophie, Gaby and Jay to live on. We simply can’t forget the contribution of the people who arrived here from the Caribbean more than 70 years ago, and who came here for better lives and to help rebuild Britain. My parents were part of that and I wouldn’t be here in the UK and in Stoke-on-Trent if it wasn’t for them.

“When I heard about the heritage benches in the park, I thought it would be a really good way to remember the contribution of the Windrush generation, and those who are sadly no longer with us, so we started to raise money for it. I must thank everyone who has supported the fundraising drive and donated money along the way and made this possible.  It’s great we will have a lasting legacy to their memory in one of the Stoke-on-Trent’s biggest and most visited parks.”

This Saturday, an annual Windrush generation party will be held in the city at Joiners Square Community Centre, starting at 9pm. Tickets cost £7 online at www.theticketsellers.co.uk or £10 on the door.

Councillor Randy Conteh, the city council’s cabinet member for communities and safer city, said: “In Stoke-on-Trent we’re really proud of our welcoming spirit and the fact we have such diverse communities, which is something to be celebrated. The bench will honour and remember our Windrush generation, many of whom I personally know and have grown up with their descendants. It’s a really nice way to recognise their contribution, their legacy and to say thank you and I’m delighted to have been able to help the project get to this stage. I will be attending the annual Windrush generation fundraising event in the city on Saturday night.”

Anyone interested in personalising one of the heritage benches at the park should email hanleypark@stoke.gov.uk

For all media enquiries please contact the press team at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232987 (journalists only).