ticket to Jamaica
years - William Chong as a young man|
A Nottingham pensioner
has returned to his homeland, for the first time in almost 60 years.
Chong left Jamaica on the first sailing of the Empire Windrush.
was 1948, and he was only 19-years-old.
Since then, he's never been back...
One way ticket
William paid £28.00 for his ticket
to sail to England just after the Second World War.
had been returning with tales of their travels, and William thought the trip would
be an adventure.
Arriving in Britain, William was surprised by what he
"The first impression I had was these houses are all
"Where I came from the houses were separate. That really
shook me. When I was in Jamaica there were diesel trains. And when I came here
there were steam trains. I thought it would be more advanced."
first challenge was getting a job - and it was a choice between the army or the
William chose to work in the pits:
was really difficult because a lot of people didn't want to work with you. (One
manager) said 'even if I could let you come here to work, the men wouldn't work
with you, because they don't like coloureds here'. Some just didn't want to know."
William found work at two pits in Nottinghamshire
- Welbeck and Warsop Main.
Then he settled in Nottingham, where he met
his wife, Doreen, and where they brought up their two sons.
He moved on
to a string of other jobs - as a moulder, dyer, builders' mate, plumbers' mate,
and at the world-famous Raleigh factory.
He retired from a pie-making job
at Pork Farms.
William always planned a return visit to Jamaica but every
time those plans fell through.
But then the "Tuntum" Housing
Association, which runs his flat, decided to organise the trip for him.
at 78-years-old, William boarded a plane for the first time in his life.
William and his son Tony got a VIP welcome.
applauded by hundreds of Jamaicans as he was welcomed on stage, at an annual cultural
And he was invited to meet the new Governor-General, the Queen's
representative in Jamaica.
moment - William Chong in Jamaica|
"Prodigal son, the
prodigal son!" - William joked.
"Very, very touching. All these
years away. And I come back and go in the Governor's mansion. Astonishing isn't
But there was a shock in store when William went to find his childhood
The house had been demolished, and a new building put up in its place.
not there. Just not there. You can't feel something when it's not there. It puts
you off completely."
His son, Tony, added:
sad for him that the place has gone down so badly, and so quickly. You can see
things that must have been better in the past. And that's the sadness really".
A lot of things have changed in 58 years.
to William Chong talking about his experiences
When William Chong was
last in Jamaica, it was still a British colony.
Now he has been invited
to be a special guest at a ceremony celebrating the country's 44 years of independence.
I've met has made me really welcome
I've got the passport, the British passport,
so I'm British.
"But I am still a Jamaican because I was born in Jamaica.
I'm proud to be a Jamaican. I'm always a Jamaican in my heart." William Chong.
Links relating to this story:
The BBC is not responsible for
the content of external websites