“I didn’t know what Windrush was!” Kenny Lynch

Comedian and singer Kenny Lynch toured with the Beatles and appeared in Carry On Films. From Caribbean-Irish heritage, he was born in the East End in 1938 before the Windrush era. In his short portrait, Kenny talks about growing up in Stepney during the war.

Evening all where do we start then. I was born in the East End of London in 1938. I love it down there, I love the people I still like it down there, the only trouble is I don’t go down there too much now because I get lost.

The war started, I think about eighteen months after I was born and it for kids I mean, when you got to about three or four though there was bombs dropping all the time it was, it was, it was fun. You just thought, oh look there’s another house on fire.

But obviously during the war everybody’s very close together and all that it’s only the day after the war stops that they all start fighting again, like they do now.

No, well my father was here because he was in the Merchant Navy. Yeah my dad came over from Barbados in the late 1890’s. He is very nice man, he made me what I was, he was very gentle. Never had a row with me, never hit me, never did anything like that and I loved him. And my mum’s from an Irish background and all that.

My family was 11 kids but, I mean I never met half of them, I mean I was the last one of them. And in fact now I’m the only one left out of all of them because they’re all brown bread now.

It was just a very fun family, no rows or anything.I mean there were obviously kids rows and all that, and we never had any racial problems with people in Cornwall Street you know because basically we were probably a novelty. You know people just say, you know people just say we’ve got some black people live next door to us and all that, you should come round and see them they’re almost the same as us. That sort of thing must have been going on.

But, basically I didn’t see I didn’t see loads even then until I was about 20. You’d notice more immigrants were coming in and all that sort of thing.

I don’t remember anybody ever telling me about Windrush. So that’s why I’d never heard of it. I never knew what Windrush was until I was asked to do this big show on it for the BBC at the Crystal Palace, years afterwards. I had to ask my sister what it was doing this show for this thing called Windrush, What is that? She said ‘Oh it’s a boat they all came over on.’ That’s the first I’ve heard about it and by that time I was probably about 26.

Everything’s is funny to me, everything’s musical to me, everything is readable to me and that’s how I go through life and how I shall go for the next few weeks I’ve got left.

This film is part of 1000 Londoners, a ten-year digital project which aims to create a digital portrait of a city through 1000 of the people who identify themselves with it. The profile contains a 3 minute film that gives an insight into the life of the Londoner, as well as their personal photos of London and some answers to crucial questions about their views on London life. Over the course of the project we aim to reveal as many facets of the capital as possible, seeing city life from 1000 points of view.

1000 Londoners is produced by South London based film production company and social enterprise, Chocolate Films. The filmmakers from Chocolate Films will be both producing the films and providing opportunities to young people and community groups to make their own short documentaries, which will contribute to the 1000 films. Visit www.chocolatefilms.com