Derby Museum is hosting a fascinating deep-dive into the history of the city’s Caribbean population.
Featuring colourful carnival costumes, the personal belongings of much-loved local figures and an extensive oral history project, the exhibition tells the story of the Derby West Indian Community Association from its Windrush roots to the present day.
Adam Slater, Elders Officer at DWICA, compiled an estimated three hours of audio from 23 different interviews for use in the exhibition.
“There are so many moving stories about how and why people came from the Caribbean to Derby – the heart-breaking decisions they had to make in leaving home, the difficulties that they faced and how time and again they triumphed in the face of adversity,” he said.
“We also hear from great achievers who have made Derby their home, from international stars like legendary West Indian cricketer Michael Holding to local icons like Devon Daley, who hosts his own show on BBC Radio Derby.”
“A lot of the stories will bring a tear to your eye, but they provide a real insight into what Caribbeans who made England their home had to go through and how organisations like DWICA provided much-needed support.”
Originally, many West Indians from the Windrush Generation settled in Derby due to a higher number of job vacancies and lower rent costs than elsewhere.
In 1955, members of the community began to meet to discuss ways to tackle challenges such as employment, education, housing and workplace discrimination and, six years later, the Association was formally established.
The founder and last surviving member of the original organisation, Charles Hill, passed away in 2020, when Covid-safety regulations limited the size of funerals.
Therefore, this exhibition has been many people’s first real opportunity to come together to celebrate Mr Hill’s life and legacy.
Current DWICA Chairman George Mighty, who took part in the oral history interviews and lent his old Jamaican grip suitcase for display, said: “I hope this exhibition will reflect the great work of the Association and its forbearers. I want it to give the younger generations something to aspire to and show how we left our legacy on the city of Derby across many decades of struggle.”
The ongoing exhibition forms part of a larger, year-long project titled The Centre that Powers the Road, and will run until the end of July.
Tony Butler, Executive Director of Derby Museums, said: “We are thrilled to have been involved in co-producing this important new exhibition.
The exhibition and the wider Centre that Powers the Road project will create an invaluable archive for the city, documenting the building of a community from the 1950s and the continued vital work of the Association today.”