Fri | Sep 22, 2023
The Classics

Jamaicans seek better fortunes in England

Published:Friday | June 2, 2023 | 7:47 AM
Two of the hundreds of Jamaicans who are leaving on the “Empire Windrush”, on May 27, 1948 for England in search of employment. They are on their way to board the ship at the Royal Mail Lines pier.

The Wharf and its surroundings were populated by hundreds of people looking to board the Empire Windrush. The atmosphere was filled with different emotions as some people were overjoyed to leave while some faced challenges that seemed to kill their chance of a new beginning.

Published Thursday, May 27, 1948

900 Leaving by Windrush This Morning

Pier Thronged

One of the largest batches of passengers to leave Jamaica in peacetime will sail from the Island this morning when the troopship Empire Windrush leaves port on a long voyage home to England, taking the huge total of 900 passengers from Kingston.

A cross section of Jamaica’s citizens – musicians, boxers, craftsman, clerks, and the rest going to England in search of work, as well as professional persons going on holiday -make up the big passenger list. Added to it are Jamaican RAF and other military personnel returning from leave and duty.

During its three days in port, the Windrush became easily the most popular ship that has docked in Kingston Harbour for a long time, and all day yesterday, the Royal Mail wharf, where the vessel lay alongside, was a scene of activity and animation as preparations proceeded.

Bustle At Pier

Friends and relatives crowded the pier to see the passengers offw hile outside in Port Royal Street and down at the seaside vantage point of Duke Street, throngs gathered to bid farewell to departees.

With as many 430 troop deckers and 160 cabin passengers embarking here, the wharf scene was indeed a busy one, but the ship’s officers, ably assisted by the military, the police, and the Customers, kept things in check and everything went smoothly. There were also 300 in-transit passengers to add to the full big ship’s complement.

Going by way of Tampico, Mexico, and Bermuda the Windrush trip is expected to last three weeks for the entire return journey.

Embarkation got underway around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the military maintaining a rigid check both at the foot of the gangplank and on board the vessel. Jamaican servicemen, who had come home on leave, were the first to be put on board and were followed by a draft of the Gloster Regiment. Next to go on were the deckers, and finally, cabin passengers in the evening.

The passengers embarked with just a few incidents handled so tactfully and quietly by the immigration officers that it did not delay the long going-aboard procession.

Lost Passports

A couple of the Jamaicans going to the UK in search of work lost their passports. Another said he gave a relative his passport to hold because he was afraid it would be picked from his pocket. Immigration officers checked the long passenger list, but the name George McDonald was nowhere to be found.

The disappointed Portlander said he was born in Hector’s River and was a member of the Royal Air Force. He came back home two years ago. A shoemaker by trade, he thought he could do better in Britain than here and had planned to return.

McDonald said last night that there must have been a mistake somewhere. Outside of the wharf premises, last night colleagues of the young Portlander sympathised with him.


Another Jamaican with ambition to reach Britain at any cost turned up with a passport, which Immigration officers on the alert for “beaters” discovered was not his. He confessed that he purchased the troop deck ticket from his friend and that the passport was his friend’s.

So tight was the military ring that regulars on the waterfront declared that would-be stowaways would have a stiff time getting on board the Windrush – if they could at all.

“The best system can be beaten,” chirped a waterfront habitué. Perhaps he knew what he was talking about.

On List

Among cabin passengers on the vessel are Dr Ignatius Cruchley, accompanied by his wife. They will be away for about four and a half months, during which Dr Cruchley hopes to do a lot of travelling and see something of the Olympic Games.

Dr F. A. Aris, dental practitioner, going on a long-promised vacation, and Mr Eustace Melbourne, city businessman and sportsman, going on business and pleasure and to be away for a few months, are also on the passenger list.

Sister Mary Joseph and Mr Charles Gatehouse, formerly of the Jamaica Public Service Company’s traffic department, are other travellers.


For feedback: contact the Editorial Department at