Immigration from India


  • Intro

    In this audio extract, Gilli Salvat remembers arriving in England from India shortly after partition in 1948. She and her family were among the first of many settlers who were lured to Britain by the promise of employment. She describes her parents’ tears as the boat leaves India, and the racist attitudes of the English people that she was initially confronted by.


    The UK was rebuilding itself after the massive destruction wreaked by World War II, and there were severe labour shortages. Immigration was one solution to this problem. A 1948 Act gave Commonwealth citizens free entry to Britain, and the arrival of the SS Empire Windrush from Jamaica in June that year marked the symbolic start of the postwar immigration boom. Many hundreds of thousands came from India, Pakistan and the West Indies to Britain through the 1950s, not just for short-term work, but settling for good. Immigration has continued and widened ever since, resulting in an ethnic and cultural diversity that would have been unthinkable in 1945.


    The photograph, taken later in September 1957, shows young women in London, having arrived from Calcutta, India. Copyright Getty Images.

  • Audio

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