The Equiano Centre


Billie Louise Phipps-Tyndall

Having moved between England and Northern Ireland during my childhood, I have become interested in rootlessness, diaspora and senses of place and belonging. My maternal grandmother is from Montserrat, the emerald isle of the Caribbean, and my grandfather is from St. Kitts and Nevis. I have always been aware of my ancestry and the paths taken by my mother's parents that led to their arrival in Birmingham, and although I appreciate the importance and significance of statistics, facts and figures that represent similar migratory patterns, I am interested in social history, stories, the creation of communities, and by what connects people across the globe.

There is still a common misconception that the first black people to arrive in Britain were those that sailed on the Empire Windrush, and although I know that this is not the case, I am intrigued and excited by the archives we have uncovered and the stories we have unearthed about the lives and movements of Black and Asian people in Britain prior to 1948: from the black sailors who were scouted by circus agents and proprietors to work as lion tamers and exotic entertainers to the mystery of an African girl, taken by Arab slave traders, rescued by an Irish missionary and taken to England to work as a domestic, who allegedly lived until she was 104!