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Lost pictures of pioneering West Indians

Howard Grey’s extraordinary, historic photos of the ‘last boat train’ of West Indian pioneers taken at Waterloo Station 60 years ago, emblematic of the Windrush era, remained not only unseen but unprinted, tucked away in a drawer in the photographer’s studio for five decades.

In 1962 when word spread in the Caribbean that the British were about to change the laws on immigration making it much more difficult for West Indians to live and work in the so-called Mother Country, the news created a panic in the soon-to-be-former colonies. A surge of people hurried to the UK before the Commonwealth Immigrants Act of that year was passed.

When Grey heard reports one overcast, drizzly midweek day in May that passengers from apparently the last ship of West Indians were arriving, the 20-year-old assistant photographer grabbed two cameras and headed straight to Waterloo station. These photos below are the results that have only come to light in recent years with the aid of new technology and high-end scanners.