Upon arriving in the UK from the Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1971, after being granted British citizenship status and free entry into Britain under the British Nationality Act, many members of the Windrush Generation ended up settling in Manchester. It was here (as well as London, Liverpool and Birmingham) that jobs were most able to be found, generally in low-paid areas such as construction, factory work, and nursing in the newly founded NHS, helping to rebuild the city and the county’s economy following the Second World War. In spite of the racism and poverty that many faced, the community also helped transform the city in numerous other ways; particularly its music scene, through the legendary Reno, Nile and Bengwema nightclubs where reggae, funk, and soul played.
Presented online and at Manchester Central Library, Windrush Generations: Manchester Voices documents this story through the personal accounts of 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation members of the Caribbean diaspora. The community organised exhibition features contributions from across Greater Manchester, highlighting the struggles, achievements, art, activism and resilience of those who first settled here, as well as of their children and grandchildren. The combined result promises to capture a hugely important, though often overlooked strand of the city’s past and present, and forms an essential part of this year’s Black History Month programme.