The 1948 Voyage of the Empire Windrush from the Caribbean to London

Verifying the details of this famous voyage proved astonishingly difficult considering its place in modern history. It was only after months of trawling the internet and emailing every Caribbean connection known to me, that a definitive response was received from:

Gareth Bellis
Library Manager
Royal Museums Greenwich
National Maritime Museum | Royal Observatory Greenwich | The Queen’s House | Cutty Sark

Which is reproduced below with thanks.

“The most straightforward way to determine this is with a publication called Lloyd’s Shipping Index Voyage Supplement. This publication, issued weekly, provided details of vessels’ dates of arrival at, and departure from, ports listed alphabetically by name of ship. The entry for each voyage is cumulative, so seeking the final entry for a voyage will provide the complete picture of it. When a new voyage begins, the list re-sets. In 1948 it appears that the EMPIRE WINDRUSH undertook five voyages. The famous voyage took place between 06 May – 21 June 1948.

I have attached a scan of this voyage for you from the edition of Lloyd’s Shipping Index Voyage Summary for Friday June 25 1948. Due to the size of the volume and limitations of our scanner, the text may not be the easiest to read, so I have also transcribed this for you:

Sd [sailed from] London May 6
Ar [arrived at] Southampton May 7
Sd Southampton May 7
Ar Trinidad May 20
Sd Trinidad May 20
Ar Kingston (Ja) [Jamaica] May 24
Sd Kingston (Ja) May 27
Ar Tampico June 2
Sd Tampico June 2
Ar Havana June 2
Sd Havana June 4
Ar Bermuda June 8
Sd Bermuda June 11
Ar London June 21

None of the other voyages that I could see for the EMPIRE WINDRUSH in 1948 included visits to the Caribbean, so this should confirm that the voyage was indeed a voyage from the UK, rather than a journey via Australia. This information is dependent on what was reported to Lloyds in London at the time, and Lloyds do give a disclaimer that they accept no responsibility for errors or omissions. If you need further confirmation or more detail, the next source to consult would be the vessel’s official log. This is not deposited at the National Maritime Museum and is most likely held at the National Archives as they hold the vessel’s crew list for 1948. Log books and crew lists are often stored by the vessel’s official number rather than by name. The EMPIRE WINDRUSH’s official number was: 181561.
I hope that this is of some assistance.
With best wishes,”

Feedback from anyone with further information will be gratefully received and fully acknowledged.