Rev Canon Christian Weaver, MA, CBE is the spiritual leader and National Superintendent for the Pilgrim Church, UK.  He was born in Antigua and moved to the UK in the 1960s to study art at Leicester College of Art.  He served for 20 years as a Magistrate on Nottingham City Bench and was lead officer for Nottingham County Council on Equal Opportunity and Race Quality.

The interview with Weaver took place on 17 November 2022 but was conducted in two parts.  The first part took place in his home and the second at the relatively nearby Pilgrim Centre in Queen’s Walk, Nottingham, NG2 2DF.

The interview covered a wide range of topics including his impressive professional life and personal engagement with high profile people like Rev Jesse Jackson and Queen Elizabeth II.

The excerpt below reflects on the long history of the Windrush scandal and the practical role that the church played in reaching out to MPs for help.  He talks to about the High Commissioners but appears to have regarded most as elitist, with only some doing what was needed to help those in need. 

Interview by Juanita Cox

Christian Weaver Interview [Excerpt]

KEYWORDS: 1960s, deported, removed, repatriated, citizenship, passport, family, funeral, wedding, Windrush scandal, indigenous, ‘double-talk’, competing, education, pastor, spiritual, practical, distressed, kitchen, community, politicians, freehold, county council, race relations board, racist, congregation, MPs, High Commissioners, old boy network

Copyright & Permissions: Christian Weaver granted the University of London exclusive licence to use this material for (i) academic and teaching activities, (ii) research facilitation and promotion and (iii) reporting or knowledge transfer.  This was done with the understanding that names of third parties would be excluded except for those in the public domain.  This material, including photograph, cannot be reproduced without permission.


JC:         Dr Juanita Cox (Interviewer)
CW:       Christian Weaver (Respondent)

Date/Location of interview

17 November 2022

Part 1 – interview took place at his home in Nottingham
Part 2 – interview took place at Pilgrim Centre, Queen’s Walk, Nottingham NG2 2DF


1960s, deported, removed, repatriated, citizenship, passport, family, funeral, wedding, Windrush scandal, indigenous, ‘double-talk’, competing, education, pastor, spiritual, practical, distressed, kitchen, community, politicians, freehold, county council, race relations board, racist, congregation, MPs, High Commissioners, old boy network

TRANSCRIPT [Excerpt taken from Part 2: 9:33 – 18:15]

JC          9:33

Can you remember at any point between the 60s and say, like the 2000s, do you remember any issues arising where people were either being deported or removed or, like repatriated and were you ever involved in working with those people?

CW        9:53

Yes, I was very much involved with that. I have certain videos for instance, on that, that people come in to see me here and explaining their surprise that their status, national status has changed. Citizenship status has changed almost overnight without them being told. Is only sometimes when they want a new passport perhaps to go back to the Caribbean on holiday for family issues like funerals and weddings, that they were told that they could not get a passport that would bring them back to this country, they were being, being, left out. And some people did not get to go to funerals, for instance, of parents and relatives and could not go to family situations of weddings and celebrations as they could not. And so that was causing quite a lot of problem. And it did.

JC          10:54

Is that, are you referring now to the Windrush scandal or the period before?

CW        11:00

I think the, it was a part of the Windrush thing, because I think the government here would be observing that more people were coming. And there was this, this argument from, from local indigenous people, were talking about these people coming here. And so the Windrush thing come in, and they were being brought… Is the double talk, double talk thing. They were talking about having free transport to come here. And they were obviously bringing people here who are competing with them, perhaps for the first time on a trained professional, professionally trained people. And so they’re really making a lot of fuss about that. So the Windrush was very much about stopping these people who are trying to compete with us and sometimes being being preferred before us, because they seem to have the the articulation, and the education and all these things to compete with us.

JC          12:07

So do, I mean, when you, when you were trying to help people, you know, when they came to you, presumably in your position as a pastor, what were you able to do to help them? I mean, is it more that it’s spiritual assistance, spiritual comfort, or was there a practical side to the help you were able [to offer].

CW        12:27

Practical side as well, too.  Yeah, it was spiritual obviously when people are distress and so on, you know, they naturally look to you. But you’ve got to come up with some kind of goods as well to to help them through. So for instance, this building, which had become ours now, by that time, would be hosting, dinner, lunch, lunch, dinners, lunch clubs, luncheon clubs, and so on. And we’d have people coming to this building, to, to be in groups, and so on, and having dinners and so on. And if you notice that there was a kitchen downstairs, and this building is designed in such a way that we would have this building where people could do interviews, you know, not just me, because I encourage other people to get involved as well too as leaders, to train people, to help people to become aware of what is available to them. And if you were to go in the other room there – the large room, but we have a screen, a moveable screen, so that we can have a large group or a smaller group – people were being taught to do various things as well too.  So this place had become a part of their place as well.  You don’t have to be a member of the church to be here. You know, so we insist on saying that to people, if there is community conflict, this is your place as well too.  We would not ask you about whether you are a member of the church or not, and then people naturally came. And you will notice as well, too, as you come from the car park end of the church, that there is a sign and there is a community facility as well, too. And that tell people that you can walk in, like you can walk in any public building, know what I mean, and it’s for them. And the thing that was happening as well, too, when we were making those sort of strides, progressive strides that even local politicians who you think would be part of the so called party that would be more inviting of black people would, would not want us to [???] those days. They didn’t want us to have a freehold of that place. It went right up to our backdoor. We didn’t have a car park, and that piece of land would be there and they wanted to, to, to, to, for us to have it on a leasehold for 99 years, and not, not to have the freehold that naturally would, would, would tie up with the church building, and the road, just a few feet outside. So we had to fight all the way fighting for this. And I had to be the leading person because I had more experience in these matters. The lead person actually confronting them, and I tell you that things were really bad. When I when I became the head of the Department, Man[?] Development Unit Research, I helped the council to put together. There I was head and I was a part of the leadership of the county council, because I have a department now of my own. At one time, one of the the deputy head at the time, wanted to bring in a white person who I would report to, not to sit in that group. And I said, if you do that, I’ll take you to the Race Relations board. And they backed down. That, that’s the sort of nastiness but some of these people are nice people, they’re just ignorant and racist, and I say to them but you still have to love them. But fight them.

JC          16:23

And so I just wanted to get a sense from you, in terms of the members of the congregation, did you know of anybody personally, who maybe was deported or who was repat[riated], you know, took voluntary repatriation, or

CW        16:42

I think I don’t remember individuals, because there were a lot of people coming for it. I don’t remember any individual at the moment. But people came asking me for help to write to their MPs and so on, which I did.

JC          16:58

So did you mostly… So that’s interesting, you’re talking about seeking the help of MPs. I mean, were there key people that you approached to get help as well as the MPs? I mean, did you contact even High Commissioners or?

CW        17:13

What we find about High Commissioners at the time, they’re very status conscious people, to be honest with you. And they would, because they wanted in my opinion, they want to be accepted as well, too, in that sort of elitist kind of bunch of people. They weren’t pursuing as, as they should, to get people, peoples’ right recognised. But some of them did, you know what I mean. So you can’t, it’s not total. But I know that there’s several people who would have said that, reported back and say that I’ve contacted the the High Commission office, and there is this old boy network that was happening in those spaces. And so it wasn’t the ideal thing to be honest with you. So many people had to be on the, on the job trying to help people.

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