Posts Tagged ‘Pat Arrowsmith’

Windrush, Missile Defence and Rathayatra – 2008

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

Windrush, Missile Defence and Rathayatra – 2008 On Sunday 22 June 2008 I photographed two events celebrating anniversaries in London as well as a protest supporting Czech hunger strikers who – like 70% of the Czech people – were opposing the building of an American radar base near Prague – part of the US Missile Defence system.


Empire Windrush – 60th Anniversary – Clapham Common

Sixty years previously, on June 22, 1948, the SS Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury, bringing 492 Caribbeans – many of who had served in the British armed forces during the war – from Jamaica to start a new life in England. They had paid £28 10s (£28.50) for the passage and were the first large group of settlers from the Empire to come to live in the ‘Mother Country’.

The events celebrating this in 2008 now seem very low key and that at the bandstand close to the Clapham South deep level shelter on the edge of Clapham Common where many of them were given temporary housing was one of several organised by Christian Aid, together with the Windrush Trust and Churches Together in South London.

Next year will be the 75th anniversary and it will be interesting to see how this is celebrated. The years since 2008 have been marked by revelations about the terrible treatment by our government of the Windrush generation and their families, suffering from the hostile environment, deportations and racism promoted by the Home Office. Whatever celebrations there are will I think be rather more political, and probably better attended.

In 2008 the event celebrated the great contribution made by the Caribbean community to life in this country, and were reminded of the contribution of Clapham to the fight against slavery, but began with relatively little about the racist treatment they had received here, and which was about to be ratcheted up officially when the Tories came to power.

This changed towards the end of the event when Mark Sturge, former director of African Caribbean Evangelical Alliance, talked about the contribution black majority churches had made in the UK. He reminded us that Black immigrants were faced with discrimination at almost every turn, with notices “No Blacks, No Irish, No dogs” and other insults. Many came from religious backgrounds and turned to the largely white churches, and also found they were seldom welcome there. They became the pioneers of black-led churches, which provided an important support, not just religion, but also in education and other areas of life, helping them to face up to and fight against discrimination.

We had also got a taste of how it had been when Jacqueline Walker, who arrived in Britain as a young child a few years later in 1959, gave us an insight into what arriving in the country felt like, with readings from her book ‘Pilgrim State’.

Empire Windrush – 60th Anniversary


40th Rathayatra Chariot Festival in London – Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square

Two men carry Jagannatha from the car to the chariot.

The day was also the 40th annual Rathayatra Chariots Festival in London, which saw Krishna in the form of Jagannatha, his half-sister Subhadra, and Balarama her brother carried on huge chariots pulled through the streets of London by Hare Krishna devotees.

The effigy of the founder of ISKCON, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is lifted onto one of the chariots.

You can see more pictures from another year in other posts on My London Diary and here in the recent post Ten Years Ago – Chariots & Custody Deaths.

40th Rathayatra Chariot Festival in London


No to US Missile Defence – Support Czech Hunger Strike – Downing St

Although I condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine both in 2014 when the war there began and its escalation since February, activities by the West including the setting up of an American radar base near Prague as a part of the US Missile Defence system do provide some explanation for the Russian fears that have led to the current terrible situation.

70% of the Czech people apparently were against the building of the radar base, and some had gone on a hunger strike against it. CND held a rally and all-day fast on Whitehall opposite Downing Street to show their support. They included well-known peace campaigners such as CND chair Kate Hudson and veteran protester Pat Arrowsmith.

No to US Missile Defence


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