‘Jamaicans Stay at Wolverhampton’

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Date:Not Recorded

Description:A further article, in the same newspaper, seems to refer to a different group of seven Jamaicans in Wolverhampton. The journalist reports that this small group spent the night of the 22nd in Birmingham, at the Causeway Green Hostel, near Oldbury. The paper then reports that the group spent the night of the 23rd, at what is described as the ‘Polish displaced persons Hostel at Perton,’ Wolverhampton.

There were some similarities between the Jamaicans and Poles’ experience of migration, and their feeling of estrangement in a new country. There were also similarities in their, soon to be realised, for the Jamaicans, shared position in many of the least desirable jobs in the economy. This would perhaps lead, as the article reports; ‘All the Poles’ to welcome, ‘the new arrivals courteously.’ Unfortunately however, and as a further Faces and Places entry explores, an incident in the following year at the Hostel in Causeway Green, would place a significant strain on this newly found friendship between the Jamaicans and Poles in the city.

Conclusion

This series of articles provides an important starting point for further research into the experiences of Black, as well as Asians and Eastern European arrivants in post-war Birmingham. They highlight the ways in which some of the perceptions of Britain as the ‘Mother Country,’ and the self-image of many Afro-Caribbean people as ‘a part of Britain’ were painfully dashed by the damaging experience of racism, which was particularly visible and endemic in the housing market.

The articles also highlight the important and often forgotten point that many of the men who came on the Empire Windrush, had served in the armed forces, during the Second World War. In the article entitled: ‘City not Friendly…’ the journalist mentions: ‘They are all ex-servicemen and are all skilled tradesmen, which Birmingham urgently needs, but because they cannot find anywhere to live in the city they may be forced to return to Jamaica.’ In light of the ways in which racism operated, here, even to the detriment of capitalism, it is no wonder that many of the servicemen who experienced a huge amount of prejudice during the war, would on their return home become involved in, and lead movements for independence from Britain.

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Donor ref:Birmingham Gazette June 24th 1948  (60/1213)

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