How they lived......

Updated: Nov 20, 2020

In the 1950s when West Indians first came to Britain, those who had nowhere to live were sent by the government to Clapham South Underground station and there were given food and shelter. The Brixton Labour Exchange (jobcentre) was only a short distance away and by arriving there in the morning, a West Indian could be in work by lunch time! That's how easy it was to get a job......

Finding somewhere to live was an altogether different matter and when West Indians did manage to find a room to rent, they would often share it with another West Indian. The one who had a day job would use it to sleep at nights, while the one working at nights would have the room in days. Those who had a family usually could only afford a room and the room became the bedroom, the kitchen, the dining and the playroom for the children. Some people cooked on a small stove in their rooms or on the landing, for that's where the kitchen was usually located, which served the whole house!

Bathing during this time was also a problem. Parents would bathe their children in a long bath pan in their room and would use the public baths to bathe and wash their clothes. For a small fee a person could hire a cubicle at a public bath, pay for a bar of soap and a towel, and have their bath. When they finished, a man would come round with a large wooden brush, scrub clean the bath, and run the water for the next occupant!

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