Photography exhibition marking 75th anniversary of Windrush opens in Clapham 

Photography exhibition marking 75th anniversary of Windrush opens in Clapham 


With June 22 marking 75 years since Empire Windrush arrived in the UK, commemorative events are happening all over London and beyond. Close to home, ‘social documentary photographer’ Jim Grover, who has been photo-documenting the community since 2016, has a new, free exhibition Windrush: A Voyage through the Generations running all summer at Clapham Library. 

We spoke to Jim about his inspiration and intentions for the exhibition, which features 70 colour photos, loosely based around the theme of preserving and passing down Caribbean traditions… 

What originally inspired you to photo-document members of the Windrush generation living in south London? 

I have huge respect and admiration for the ‘Windrush Generation’, many of whom I got to know well through my local church, St James’ in Clapham.  Their contribution to this country has been immense and an inspiration.  They also brought a distinctive culture to these shores, along with strong family values, new foods and flavours, unique styles of music, domino clubs, and traditions such as the Jamaican funeral rites of ‘Nine Night’.

My 70th anniversary exhibition in 2018, Windrush: A Portrait of a Generation attracted visitors from all backgrounds but 63% of the 13,000 who came to see it over the three-week run were of Caribbean heritage, so I felt I had to do something to mark 75 years. 

The challenge was to find a new story to tell. My 2023 exhibition Windrush: A Voyage through the Generations focuses on the generations that have followed those who arrived on Empire Windrush. (We are now on the cusp of a 5th generation, with some great, great grandchildren!) I was keen to explore what the culture and traditions of the first generation mean to the subsequent generations. It also shines a light on inspiring individuals, mostly women, who are seeking to keep the culture and traditions alive for subsequent generations.

Brixton Windrush Day parade in June 2022. The parade, which spans all generations and is organised by the West Indian Association of Service Personnel which is based in Clapham, marches up Brixton Road before assembling in front of the African and Caribbean War Memorial in Windrush Square.

It’s been a turbulent five years for the Windrush generation since your 2018 exhibition. The scandal over missing immigration papers that could have led to people being forcibly removed from the country became a leading news story. Has there been a noticeable shift in the community in the last five years?

The ‘Windrush scandal’ has clearly had a devastating impact on the lives of those affected by it.  It’s also raised the general awareness of the immense and invaluable contribution to this country by those early migrants and, as a result, has given the community a deserved sense of pride.  The huge number of public events around the country to mark the 75th anniversary speaks volumes, I feel, for the strong desire to publicly and loudly celebrate this remarkable community and its story. 

Tell us about some of the people you’ve captured in the exhibition. Are there any familiar faces from your 2018 show? 

There are over 70 photographs in my new exhibition, accompanied by compelling narratives. Visitors will see photos and hear stories about 10 inspiring individuals who are doing so much to pass down their culture, traditions and memories. 

Highlights include Brixton’s remembrance ceremonies at the African Caribbean War Memorial, a moving reminder of the communities’ contribution to the war effort and ‘The Mother Country’; The Diamonds, an all-female dominoes team in action in south London; and the Brixton Immortals Domino Club, introducing the game to young children in a collaboration with Lambeth Libraries. 

Additionally, the exhibition features 12 portraits, comprising both photo and personal stories, of inspiring individuals who are, in one way or another, holding on to their Caribbean culture, safeguarding them for current and future generations.

Alford Gardner, 97, is one of just two known remaining adult passengers from that landmark 1948 voyage and his photo story led my 2018 exhibition. I took a new portrait of Alford at his home in Leeds especially for this exhibition. Just like last time his updated story will open the exhibition.

The Diamonds, a recently-formed women’s dominoes team in south London get ready for an evening fixture in The Golden Anchor pub in Peckham

The passing down of Caribbean traditions through generations is something you’re especially keen to capture with your work. Can you tell us more about the types of activities you were keen to document? 

There are many examples of family traditions which are portrayed in the exhibition, be it through food, gathering, ritual and activities. For example there is a wonderful moment with a grandmother crocheting with her granddaughter. Ingrid Munroe, who arrived in Britain from Guyana in 1972, is second generation; she has four daughters, including Stacey, six grandchildren, including Carlicia, and four ‘greats’.

Another shows Anne Daley, who is first generation. Born in the parish of St Catherine in Jamaica, Anne arrived in London in 1960. She has taught her grandchildren and ‘great grands’ how to cook traditional Jamaican food. I visited Anne in her flat in Brixton and watched her cook an evening meal with her grandson Nathan, 23 (3rd generation), and great granddaughter Melika, 18 (4th generation). Nathan cooked ackee and saltfish, the Jamaican national dish, whilst Melika made from scratch fried dumplings and plantain.

Why was it important to you to have the younger generations involved in this exhibition?  

The Windrush story is as much about the generations who have followed and I really wanted to find a way to get their voices into my story. Collaborating with schools in Brixton, Clapham and Croydon, I invited children of Caribbean heritage to choose an artefact that is important to their family history and to photograph it with a mobile phone, telling me the story that goes with it. These images and stories form part of the exhibition.

What do you hope visitors take away from seeing your 75th anniversary exhibition? 

I hope visitors enjoy it, feel moved by some of the inspiring stories, and discover more about the Caribbean community, which now totals 1.1 million people in this country. I also hope that it triggers some conversations around topics like how we understand our family’s past, and what we want to keep alive and why. What is important to us and what do we want to tell our children? These are universal concerns and relevant to us all.


Windrush: A Voyage through the Generations is showing at Clapham Library, Mary Seacole Centre, 91 Clapham High Street, London SW4 7DB.

June 1 – September 2, opening times on website.