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Celebrating contribution of town’s Windrush generation

Posted onPosted on 7th Mar

The families of Mansfield’s Windrush generation have been speaking about a major new exhibition at Mansfield Museum.

It Runs Through Us, which has been featured in the News Journal earlier this year, was officially opened at an event attended by more than 100 members of the local Caribbean community and their loved ones.

The exhibition is on display until 30th November and celebrates the post-war contribution made by the Windrush generation as well as black history in Mansfield.

It has been co-curated with the local Caribbean community who have loaned many items of clothing and homewares from the 1950s.

The project, led by Mansfield District Council, aims to document and collect oral histories from local people of the generation and their descendants as the UK marks the 75th anniversary this year of the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks.

The Mansfield-born children of these families, many now grandparents themselves, are featured in oral history videos, sharing positive experiences of childhood, friendships, and working lives, alongside the challenges they faced.

The videos form the first archive of black-led oral histories in Mansfield. Among those local Windrush pioneers was Samuel Case and the exhibition follows his family story from the late 1700s, as told by his son, Carl Case.

Samuel, who lived on Western Avenue, Mansfield, and worked at Welbeck Colliery, Meden Vale, left Jamaica in his mid-20s. He later became first black man elected deacon by a 120-strong congregation at Mansfield’s Baptist Church.

The exhibition features thought-provoking displays, vintage artefacts, carnival costumes, artwork, stories, and a reconstructed 1960s Caribbean ‘front room’ from a house in Littleworth.

The family of Paul Morrison, UK Education lead at global tech firm Zoom, whose parents were among the district’s Windrush pioneers, contributed to the exhibition.

He said: “I am very proud of growing up in Mansfield and seeing the contribution my parents and other local Windrush pioneers made in Britain becoming a multi-cultural nation, and how they helped to rebuild it after the war. Well done, Mansfield!”

Wesley Dawes, a retired engineer, whose mother, Violet Dawes, and aunt, Millicent Fraser, settled in the district in the mid-1950s, was another key contributor to the exhibition.

“Our exhibition highlights that, like many of the women during the early period, they found work in hospitals and at Metal Box, Mansfield Hosiery Mills, and a variety of factories,” he added.

His father was a carpenter and worked on the construction of the Four Season’s shopping centre.

“Similar to many of the men who didn’t enter the mining industry, he worked for local firms like John Eastwood,” said Wesley.

“The photographs in the exhibition of some of these men working at James Maude on Forest Road, where dad also worked, along with some of his actual work tools on display, is a touching tribute to my dad, who, along with too many of these pioneers, are sadly no longer with us.”

Research conducted by Carl Case also unearthed pre-Windrush industrial links from the area to the Caribbean. These included farm implements used in sugar plantations originating from local foundries, and cotton derived from Caribbean plantations used in the Hollins-owned Pleasley Vale Mills, which later invented Vyella, the first branded fabric in the world.

Visitors to the exhibition can also interact with video screens, visit a house through time, add memories to a living wall, and contribute to a Wings of Hope display.

The exhibition will run in tandem with free carnival and dance workshops, taking place at Ladybrook Community Centre, Mansfield (Thursdays, from 7pm to 9pm) and at Mansfield Palace Theatre (Tuesdays, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm).

Dancers taking part will form the Mansfield Carnival Troupe, which is set to open Mansfield Carnival on Saturday, 17th June in Mansfield Market Place.

The free dance classes are open to everyone and Mansfield Museum welcomes all communities to become part of the carnival parade.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) awarded the council a grant of £17,949 last year to support the Windrush project.
Windrush educational sessions for Key Stages 1 to 3, can be booked by contacting Rachael Boaler by email at [email protected].
Mansfield Museum can be found on Leeming Street and is open 10am to 3pm, Tuesday to Saturday. It can be found on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the tag @mansfieldmuseum or visit for more details of this and other upcoming events and exhibitions.