Express & Star

The post-war Jamaican immigrants: Pioneers who came to the Black Country to seek a better life

Rip-off rents, squalid conditions, and a decidedly mixed welcome from the locals.

Seven pioneers who arrived in Wolverhampton in June 1948 looking for jobs.

Race discrimination was overt, legal, and rife.

This was the reality in the post-war world for new arrivals from Jamaica to the Wolverhampton region.

We've taken a dip into our files to recall some of the experiences of these pioneers as they looked for homes, jobs, and a new future.

Who were the first to come? We can't answer that definitively but in June 1948 the Express & Star reported on seven Jamaicans, all but one aged between 21 and 24, who came to Wolverhampton looking for jobs. They comprised four carpenters, a car mechanic, a tailor, and one with agricultural experience, who on arrival were put up in a dormitory at the Perton hostel for Polish displaced persons at RAF Perton.

Seven pioneers who arrived in Wolverhampton in June 1948 looking for jobs.

They were however not total newcomers to England, all having served here in the RAF during the Second World War.

Their spokesman told our reporter: "We don't all want jobs at the same place, but we do want a chance to work hard for a decent wage and decent living conditions."

He added: "When we first arrived in Wolverhampton there seemed some resentment on the part of the officials at the employment exchange, but we want to assure them that just as some of us came over during the war to help in the fighting forces, so many of us want to come over now to help Britain's trade and economic recovery."

For them, and those who followed in their footsteps, things were not easy and for many the dream soured.