Windrush 75: The people who left the Caribbean for Nottinghamshire's coal mines

ITV News Central Correspondent Peter Bearne reports on the hidden history of the Windrush coalminers

It's only very recently that the hidden story of Britain's black mineworkers has come to the surface.

75 years ago hundreds of immigrants from the Caribbean landed at Tilbury Docks in Essex on the HMT Windrush, searching for a new life rebuilding a Britain battered by six years of global conflict.

At the time, coal was Britain's 'black gold', the main energy resource that powered the nation's industry.

Garrey Mitchell and Ken Bailey spent over forty years combined in the coal industry in the East Midlands.

Encouraged by his father, Ken came to the UK from Jamaica in 1961. He was 22 years old, and had heard that there was good money to be made down the mines.

His first job was at Wollaton Colliery in Nottingham - and he'd eventually spend 28 years working in hot, exhausting, and often dangerous conditions.

"I'm the first black chap to work at that mine," he said. "It was quite surprising to see me and some people tried to be nice - and some [said] 'where have you come from'?"

"It was a white mine."

"We were all one family down there," said Garrey

Garrey's father was a miner before him - having emigrated from Jamaica in the 1950s as part of the Windrush generation.

He worked at Gedling Colliery, a multinational mine, nicknamed "the Pit of Nations". At its height, around a quarter of the workforce was black.

"When you go down there you know, colour didn't really come into play, because we were all black, covered in soot. It's a dangerous environment, so we all had to watch each others back, and that kind of bound us together.

"We were all one family down there."

A local historian has spent years researching the untold history of Windrush miners

This was put to the test following a race riot which erupted in Nottingham in 1958, resulting in several people being hospitalised.

"It's like the atmosphere changed," said Garrey. "You go in the canteen, you got the white folks sitting together, the black folks sitting together, having a meal or whatever.

It was strange."

The site of Gedling Colliery is now a country park. Norma Gregory, a local historian, has spent years researching the untold stories behind Britain's black miners, and said it's important their contribution to the rebuilding of Britain isn't forgotten.

"They are part of the story, and part of the history," she said.