Arthur Torrington CBE was born in British Guiana and moved to the UK in the 1960s as a teenager. In 1996 he and Sam King MBE co-founded the registered charity Windrush Foundation, and The Equiano Society. Arthur received an OBE for services to Community Relations in London in 2002, a CBE for services to Black British Heritage in 2011 and a Windrush Lifetime Service Award from the Guyana High Commission in London in 2018. The Windrush Foundation plays a key role in creating educational material for schools on topics that include the Windrush pioneers, the contribution of Caribbean servicemen to the Mother Country, as well as the longer history of the black presence in the UK, and their resistance to transatlantic enslavement.
This interview took place on 11 May 2023 at a meeting room in the Institute of Historical Research (IHR), Senate House, London.
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Arthur Torrington CBE
Excerpt 1 [from 14:02-24:01] – Summary
In this excerpt Arthur Torrington talks about the first time he met Sam King at Capital Radio in 1983, his involvement as an RAF serviceman in the war and how that conferred a level of kudos and respect from both Black and White alike. He also explains Sam was the first to hold a commemorative event about the arrival of the Empire Windrush in 1988.
He notes that while the 1988 commemoration set the ball rolling for later events, it is still important to recognise that Sam had been attached to the idea of Windrush since 1948, dubbing his fellow RAF friends/passengers as ‘the pioneers of the second Mayflower’. King had also written an article about the Empire Windrush on the twentieth anniversary of its arrival for the Times Magazine (June 1968).
Arthur explains Sam King’s definition of the Windrush Generation and also talks about the present-day uses of the term, attributing the wider definition to the 2018 scandal. He welcomes the way that people have embraced the ‘spirit of the Windrush’ but makes it clear that the term Windrush Generation relates specifically to those who came to the UK on the 1948 Empire Windrush ship.