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24 September 2014
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William Chong
William Chong

Going back to his roots

A Nottingham pensioner's returned to his native Jamaica, for the first time in almost sixty years.

William Chong was a teenager when he emigrated on the "Empire Windrush" in June 1948.

He saw an advert in the Jamaican Daily Gleaner saying the journey on the Windrush would cost £28. Along with 300 other below decks passengers he began his long trip to the UK. He was just 19 years old and left behind many friends including two of Marcus Garvey's sons.

Jamaica in the 1940s
Jamaica in the 1940s

His initial experience of life in Britain wasn't the best. His first night was spent at a shelter on Clapham Common along with 236 other settlers.

Eventually he moved to Wales to become a Bevin boy in the mines. Next step was Nottinghamshire where he worked at two collieries and started a family with his Italian wife Doreen.

It was his association with the Nottingham based Tuntum Housing Association that led to an invitation to return to the country of his birth. He was able to take his eldest son Tony with him.

Jamaica in 2006
Jamaica in 2006

When he left Jamaica it was still a British colony. Much has changed in the intervening years. For one thing, the house in which William grew up has gone. That was a major disappointment but there were plenty of highs.

BBC Nottingham's Jeremy Ball accompanied William on the trip. Listen and see his report.

Jeremy also spoke to Nottinghamians who have retired to the Caribbean and to those who were educated in the county but made their career in Jamaica. And there's the tale of Sophia Ramcharan as she travels from the East Midlands to her grandparents' village in the hills or rural Jamaica.

last updated: 18/08/06
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