Although Black people have been living in North Herts for centuries – there is evidence for Africans living in Roman Baldock – we too often think of immigration as a recent phenomenon. Most famously, the shortage of workers after the Second World War led to recruiting people from Caribbean islands that were then part of the British Empire.
Those who crossed the Atlantic in the 1950s and 60s found themselves in a foreign and hostile land. They often worked in the dirtiest and most poorly paid jobs, found it hard to rent homes and had to face prejudice and discrimination. Many local factories, especially in Letchworth Garden City, employed large numbers of settlers.
In 2007, Hitchin Museum collaborated with Eric Blakely and Gurdev Delay in putting together an exhibition and book, North Herts African Caribbean Roots, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Using a mixture of archive photographs – some of which form the present exhibition – personal recollections and poetry, the book is on sale in the museum shop.
We have very little information about the people in the photographs. If you are in any of them, or know someone who is, please tell us!