Network Rail celebrates the 75th anniversary of Windrush at London Waterloo station: Network Rail Chief Executive Andrew Haines addresses event guests

Thursday 22 Jun 2023

Network Rail celebrates the 75th anniversary of Windrush at London Waterloo station

Region & Route:
| Southern: Wessex

Network Rail and South Western Railway (SWR) joined together in a cross-industry event to celebrate the Windrush generation.

Today (22 June), marks 75 years since the HMT Empire Windrush ship, carrying 500 passengers from the Caribbean, arrived in Britain in 1948.

Colleagues from Network Rail, SWR, The Windrush Commemoration Committee and British Transport Police came together for the event, which was led by Christopher Henley, the Railway Chaplain for Network Rail’s Wessex route.

Attendees were welcomed with the harmonising sound of steel drums echoing through the station to mark the special occasion.

Following this, colleagues laid wreaths and talked about some of their lived and shared experiences of family members and their connection to the Windrush generation.

Thousands of Windrush pioneers passed through London Waterloo station on their way to start their new lives across the country.

Last year, the station became home to the National Windrush Monument, a permanent memorial that symbolises the courage, commitment and resilience of the thousands of men, women and children who travelled to the UK to start new lives from 1948 to 1971.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s managing director for the Southern region, said: “Waterloo station is a place that has a very proud and rich connection to Windrush, and there can be few more fitting locations for this event at Britain’s busiest station which was the gateway to London for so many of them.

“This day is a reminder to every one of the sacrifices made by the Windrush generation who came to the UK to help rebuild the nation in the post-war years and many of those actually ended up working as part of the railway family.

“It was really heart-warming to hear colleagues' stories and experiences, and I’d like to thank everyone who came along to mark this special occasion."

Baroness Floella Benjamin, OM DBE DL, chair of the Windrush Commemoration Committee, said: "I came to Britain from Trinidad in 1960 aged 10 arriving on platform 19 at Waterloo station from Southampton docks. Little did I realise then that 62 years later I would be in charge of overseeing the creation of the magnificent National Windrush Monument which stands close to platform 19. It celebrates and acknowledges the contribution made by Caribbean people to Britain. I was privileged to work closely with Network Rail to establish this historic landmark monument which has fast become a focal point for the nation and future generations, to contemplate, reflect and feel proud".

Claire Mann, South Western Railway's managing director, added: “We are so proud that our flagship station is the home to the National Windrush Monument. It reminds us every day of the many thousands who travelled on our network on the most important journeys of their lives.

“The events today have provided colleagues from across the industry with a chance to come together, reflect and learn more about the inspirational Windrush generation, which has contributed so much to our society.”

Karen Wiesenekker, head of strategic inclusion and diversity for British Transport Police, said: “BTP being involved in this event is a real privilege.  For me personally, as a woman of Caribbean heritage, it is fabulous to see so many people recognising the courage, challenges and contributions of those women, men and children who have made such a positive impact in our communities. We really appreciate the incredible benefits of having such diversity; helping us, as proud Guardians of the Railway, to keep people safe from harm.”

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