Internationally renowned artist Basil Watson has been chosen to design a permanent national Windrush monument to be unveiled in Waterloo next year, despite criticism over its location in London.
The statue, which is supported by government funding of Â£ 1million, will feature three figures – a man, a woman and a child – dressed in their ‘Sunday best’ climbing a mountain of suitcases hand in hand.
The design pays homage to the dreams, ambition, courage and resilience of the Windrush pioneers who arrived in Britain after WWII.
Watson said he was “humble and grateful for this great opportunity”, adding that he was now “100% focused on the work ahead as I recognize the importance of this monument to the Windrush generation”.
Communities Minister Kemi Badenoch said Watson’s design would celebrate and honor the contribution of the Windrush generation “right in the center of our country’s capital” and become “a permanent place of reflection and inspiration for all, reminding us of our common history and heritage “. .
But Arthur Torrington, the co-founder of the Windrush Foundation, has expressed concerns about the location. He accused the government in 2019 of “treating the Caribbean community like children” by failing to consult with key groups.
He said the Caribbean men and women who arrived in the UK at Tilbury Docks, Essex, on the Empire Windrush on June 22, 1948, had traveled through Fenchurch Street, London, en route to Brixton, in the south from London.
He requested that the monument be in Windrush Square in Brixton, claiming that Waterloo Station had “nothing to do” with the arrival of Windrush in 1948.
Torrington said failure to relocate the location undermined the work of the foundation, which he said was the key organization in keeping the contributions of the Windrush generation alive.
He said: âThe location of a Windrush monument at Waterloo Station is another government hijacking ofâ Windrush. âThe monument is an insult to the Caribbean community.
A spokesperson for the Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities said: âLondon Waterloo Station is strongly associated with the stories of many of the Windrush Generation. It stands at a point where thousands of Windrush pioneers first arrived in London before starting a new life across the UK.
âThe location of the monument was chosen by the Windrush Memorial Committee, whose members include leaders and influential voices from the Windrush community.
“The Windrush monument at London Waterloo station will be a permanent tribute to a generation of these Caribbean arrivals in Britain.”
Floella Benjamin, Chair of the Windrush Memorial Committee, said: âThis Windrush monument represents the past, present and future and I hope it will be the catalyst for other monuments commemorating the extraordinary contribution of the generation. Windrush to this country.