The Independent – Search for Windrush boat anchor lost after shipwreck

Search for Windrush boat anchor lost after shipwreck

Plans to find and recover the anchor from the HMT Empire Windrushhave been unveiled on the 75th anniversary of the ship arriving in the UK with hundreds of Caribbean migrants in 1948.

The newly-formed Windrush Anchor Foundation has launched a campaign to raise £1 million for the anchor’s recovery for the ship which sank off the coast of Algeria after making its final voyage in 1954 and catching fire.

Funds will be used to locate the wreck and the 1.5 tonne anchor will then be lifted and brought back to the UK to be conserved and to go on permanent display, foundation members have said.

Campaigners have described this undertaking as a fitting way to honour the many people who had answered Britain’s call to help rebuild the country after World War II’s ruin.

Patrick Vernon, trustee of the Windrush Anchor Foundation, said: “The arrival of the Windrush, 75 years ago, has come to symbolise the beginning of Britain’s evolution into a modern and prosperous multicultural country.

“Our project will bring the Windrush anchor back to Britain. It will become the centrepiece of a public monument to the Windrush generation and their contribution to this country. And we will help to ensure that the Windrush story is never forgotten.”

The shipwreck now lies 2,600 metres below the surface of the Mediterranean Sea.

The foundation is aiming to raise funds with a mix of public and corporate donations, starting with a GoFundMe campaign launched today.

Extensive research and preparations have been made to ensure the practical feasibility of the project. During the conservation period, expected to take at least a year, a jury-led competition will be held to select the winning monument design.

Michael King, foundation trustee and the son of the Windrush Foundation founder Sam King MBE, said: “It’s a privilege to be part of the Foundation. My father would have thought of the anchor as keeping the ship in the right place once docked, as Jesus is the anchor of our Christian faith. So, the Windrush anchor will be the symbolic anchor for the Windrush generation keeping us steady.”

The trustees of the Foundation are the social commentator and campaigner Patrick Vernon OBE, Julian Clark – Vice President and Senior Legal Advisor for Gard (UK) limited, The Independent’s Race Correspondent Nadine White, Reverend Michael King, Marie van der Zyl OBE President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and shipwreck hunter David Mearns of Blue Water Recoveries Ltd.

Meanwhile, commemorations and celebrations are taking place across the country to mark what has been described as a “bittersweet” 75th Windrush anniversary.

The King will attend a service for young people in Windsor, a carnival procession will take place in Brixton where many of the Caribbean community settled, and the Windrush flag will be flown in locations including the Houses of Parliament.

A commemorative service will also take place at London’s Southwark Cathedral on Thursday, while events will be held at the Port of Tilbury, on Windrush Square in Brixton and in various parts of the country.

In 2018, it came to light that many British citizens, mostly from the Caribbean, had been threatened with detention and deportation despite having the right to live in the UK.

Many of those affected are still awaiting compensation.

On Wednesday, it emerged that hundreds of long-term sick and mentally ill people from the Windrush generation were sent back to the Caribbean in what has been described as a “historic injustice” inflicted upon Black Caribbean people.

Formerly classified documents reveal at least 411 people were sent back between the 1950s and the early 1970s, under a scheme that was meant to be voluntary.