Absolutenglish is a site for students and teachers of English, grades 9 -12.

The Empire Windrush


The idea of this unit stems from a text given for the Baccalaureat on June 2004, extracted from "And Justice There Was None" by Deborah Crombie, 2002.

Along with the study of this text, I created a few activities to help the students understand the circumstances of the arrival of the newcomers, and the difficulties they might have faced to settle in their new neighbourhood.

It was particularly important for me to go further as I teach in the Caribbean island of Martinique which is located between two islands of the British Commonwealth, namely St Lucia and Dominica. This was therefore a great opportunity for me to teach my students about the history of their region.

  • Step 1: Read the extract from 'And Justice There Was None" and answer the questions.

    Download the text and questions (pdf format - 301 ko)

  • Step2: Now that you have found out about the origins of the newcomers, guess where they came from precisely. Use this link (clickable map of the Caribbean) if you need help
  • Step 3: what common point do the islands of St Lucia and Dominica (along with many other islands in the Caribbean) share? What other countries or islands in the rest of the world share this common point? Use this link for more information. (You can also click here for more activities on St Lucia)
  • Step 4: Discover how The Empire Windrush and her passengers changed the face of Britain: do the following activities
  • - Fill in the blanks using words belonging to the semantic field of "immigration"

    - Read a text on the Empire Windrush and answer the questions.

    - Listen to audio documents about the Empire Windrush and do the quizes (fill in the blanks, multiple-answer, true or false).

    N.B.: you can print your results by clicking on "PRINT"

    You can also SAVE your results page on your computer by following these instructions:

    "Right-click with your mouse and select " view source" (="code source de la page").

    Then in "file" (= fichier") , select "save as" (= "enregistrer sous") , select the folder (= dossier) where you want the results saved, and name it with "yourname.htm", click "save (="enregister").


  • Step 5: Visit the following links and answer the questions

    BBC - History - Windrush - the Passengers

    1. What did the Empire Windrush stop in Jamaica for?
    2. What was the final destination of the ship?
    3. What was the first problem that the immigrants faced when they arrived in London?
    4. What other problems did they also have to face ?

      BBC - London - News - The Windrush Anniversary

    1. What did the Empire Windrush originally stop in Jamaica for?
    2. What were the intentions of most men on board the Empire Windrush?
    3. How much did a ticket on the Empire Windrush cost?
    4. What are the common points between Sam King and Arthur Curling?
    5. How did Sam King get this money?
    6. Why did Sam King leave Jamaica?
    7. What were Sam King's impressions when he came back to Jamaica?
    8. What were Arthur Curling's intentions when he boarded the Empire Windrush?
    9. What does Arthur Curling think of Jamaica? Could he live there?

      The Empire Windrush. - - Port Cities

    1. What was the original name of the Empire Windrush?
    2. What personal pronoun is used in English to refer to a ship?
    3. When did the empire Windrush die and how?

      The Prince of Wales - Speech : A speech by HRH The Prince of Wales at the S.S. Empire Windrush Reception, St James's Palace State Apartments, 25th June, 1998

    1. On what occasion did the Prince of Wales deliver this speech?
    2. Who did he meet on that day?
    3. according to the Prince of Wales, what were the most biggest difficulties that the first immigrants faced?
    4. What are the difficulties that black people face today?


    BBC News UK Windrush The passenger's perspective

    1. Who was the man on the photo interviewed?
    2. According to the man, why did so many Jamaicans leave their island for Britain?
    3. What was the atmosphere like on the ship?
    4. How did the man consider Britain at the time?
    5. How long did it take the man to find a job in Britain?
    6. According to the man, why was it easy for him to adapt to his new life?
    7. Why was the man disappointed by Jamaica when he visited the island again, later?
    8. What nickname was this man given?


  • Step 7: Additional resources

    - The Windrush generation by Clare Lavery: A lesson which uses a very simple poem to convey the feelings of the Caribbean immigrants who arrived in Britain in the 1940s and 50s.

    - A written comprehension test based on a text by Andrea Levy: download (pdf format: 121 ko)

    - A flash timeline that gives all the key facts and dates about the history of the British Empire, from the XIIth century to 1947!

    - Poetry by John Agard: "Windrush Child", "Windrush Welcome" , "Check out me history" and other poems; half-caste;

    - The UK: immigration and ethnicity : resources and activities around the subject of immigration and ethnicity

    - Treasures: Windrush settlers : passenger list

    - The Men From Jamaica Are Settling Down by Benjamin Zephaniah, poet and musician

    - Windrush History quest

    - Wikipedia entry for "Windrush"

    - Empire Windrush: Proseminar: British Postcolonial Theory and Reality in the Second Half of the 20th Century


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