A new exhibition opening at The Riverfront Theatre & Arts Centre this weekend features stories of how the Windrush Generation Cymru made their homes in Wales.

Windrush Cymru – Our Voices, Our Stories, Our History will be on display at The Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre from 11 March to 24 March. The exhibition has already visited a number of Wales’ national museums and will continue to travel across Wales as we look forward to celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Windrush in June.

In 1948, the Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex carrying over 1,000 passengers from the Caribbean Islands. They bravely left their friends and families back home in response to Britain’s call for post-war workers. Over the next 40 years, thousands followed in their footsteps, with many making Wales their new home.

The history of the Windrush generation in Wales was recently the focus of an oral history project delivered by Race Council Cymru and funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund. During the course of the project, Windrush Generation Cymru from across the country shared their stories of migration and their memories of forging a new life in Wales.

This exhibition features the stories of over 40 of those Windrush Generation Cymru, told in their own words. The exhibition is an opportunity for visitors to learn about their journeys to Wales, and the challenges they faced in building a new life in a country far from their homelands – finding work and the attitudes of people towards them.

The stories show how the Windrush Generation Cymru, and their descendants, have made their mark in all walks of Welsh life: through the jobs they worked, careers they built, the children they raised, and the contributions they made to our communities and culture. 

Windrush Cymru – Our Voices, Our Stories, Our History is delivered by Race Council Cymru in partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales, Wales Millennium Centre, People’s Collection Wales, Windrush Cymru Elders, and Black History Wales 365, with support from Arts Council of Wales, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and Gower College Swansea.

Professor Uzo Iwobi, CBE, founder of Race Council Cymru and initiator of The Windrush Cymru – Our Voices, Our Stories, Our History project, said: “I am proud to have supported the Elders for many years, hearing their appeals for their stories to be captured for prosperity and continue their legacy for their children and grandchildren. I’m delighted that this project and exhibition have come to fruition – it’s incredibly important to see these stories being passed down to the next generation.”

Sally-Anne Evans, Arts Development Officer for The Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre: ‘’We are really pleased to be able to host this exhibition and for its launch to be part of The Riverfront’s International Women’s Day 2023 celebrations.

It is such a significant exhibition for our Newport communities from groups such as Age Alive, Coffee and Laughs, Caribbean Heritage Cymru as well as individuals who share their personal stories of how Newport became their home.  Thanks to Race Council Cymru for choosing to exhibit with us. Our IWD event will be taking place on Saturday 11 March from 10am – 4pm and the exhibition launch will commence at 3pm.’’

Vernesta Cyril OBE, said: “At last society has recognised the Windrush Generation, so our stories can be told for generations to come”.

Mrs Roma Taylor, Founder and Chair of the Windrush Cymru Elders, added:                                                “I'm so pleased and so proud of this exhibition, it's a precious moment for each and every one of us. It's our stories and if we don’t get them out then no one will know. The Windrush is a very painful and emotional subject but all of our stories have to go out. It's important to us, our children and our grandchildren and for schools. Everyone has to know we have been through a lot. God has brought us through. Tiger Bay was the best place to live, I came over in ‘59. Everybody was for everybody, everyone looked after everyone and you had no problems.”

Sioned Hughes, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales’ Head of Public History and Archaeology, said: “The Windrush Generation and their families have made an invaluable and lasting contribution to Wales, and we are proud to be working in partnership with Race Council Cymru to tell these important stories.

“The oral histories recorded by the Windrush Cymru project will be archived at St Fagans as a permanent record of the lived experiences of the Windrush Generation in Wales. We are immensely grateful to the Windrush Elders for sharing their lived experiences with us for future generations.

Race Council Cymru lead Black History Wales which engages, educates and empowers individuals, community groups and Wales-wide communities in acknowledging and recognising the contributions that the African Diaspora has made in the history of Wales’ economic and cultural development. It also allows the wider community to take part, learn and celebrate together to promote understanding and share our global history.

Vernesta-OBE windrush Vernesta-Cyril Windrush