14 June 2020

Campaign to retrieve ship’s anchor from wreckage to create Windrush monument

14 June 2020

An ambitious campaign has been launched to retrieve a ship’s anchor from wreckage under the sea, to create a monument symbolising the Windrush generation.

The anchor is part of the Empire Windrush ship, which carried one of the first large groups of West Indian immigrants from Jamaica to the UK after the Second World War.

Windrush campaigner Patrick Vernon, one of the organisers of the GoFundMe campaign, said: “I believe this monument featuring the anchor of the Empire Windrush could be a source of inspiration for generations of black, brown and white people in Britain seeking to understand racism, white privilege, and trying to establish a society where citizenship and belonging is for all.”

The ship was captured in a famous image after it docked at the Port of Tilbury in Essex on June 22 1948, showing some of the hundreds of people on board waving and smiling around the stern anchor, marking the beginning of multicultural Britain as we know it today.

The ship sank in the Mediterranean Sea in March 1954 after a fire on board killed four men, but the remaining 1,500 passengers were saved.

EMPIRE WINDRUSH : 1954 (PA Archive)

The campaign, which was launched on Saturday, has set a target of £500,000 to retrieve the anchor from the wreckage, which lies 9,186ft (2,800m) below the sea off the coast of Algeria.

Mr Vernon, who successfully campaigned for June 22 to be officially celebrated as Windrush Day, said: “It will symbolise migration, racial equality and the shared history of belonging and citizenship.

“Like the Statue of Liberty it can become a beacon of hope.

“We should commit to realising this dream within three years, given that June 2023 will be the 75th anniversary of the first arrival of the Windrush generation.”

Black Lives Matter protests (PA Wire)

The majority of the funds will be used to hire specialist offshore search and recovery vessels, with the operation to take place in 2021 at the earliest.

The monument will be placed in a “prominent location” chosen by the public after extensive consultation, organisers have said.

From the late 1940s to the early 1960s, thousands of men, women and children left the Caribbean for Britain, after the 1948 British Nationality Act granted citizenship and settlement in the UK to all members of the British Empire, to help rebuild the country’s economy after the war.

But in recent years, ministers and the Home Office have come under fire over revelations on how members of the Windrush generation and their children have been wrongly detained and deported – and others denied access to healthcare, work, housing benefits and pensions.

The campaign follows calls for statues and monuments linked to slavery and Britain’s racist past to be reviewed, after the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was pulled down and dumped into Bristol Harbour by anti-racism campaigners at a Black Lives Matter protest a week ago.

– To donate to the campaign, visit: https://gf.me/u/x8tw35

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