Arriving and Settlement in Derby

Formation of the Association

The first seed of the Derby West Indian Association was sown in 1955 when a group of West Indians in Derby met in one of their homes to discuss unity and survival in a foreign land.

This group were already informally supporting each other, newer arrivals from the Caribbean and their families. Plans formed around the need for an organisation to more formally provide help, advice and social opportunities for the growing community in Derby.

The Association proper was formed in December 1961, and the following is from the minutes of that meeting at the Normanton Hotel:

A draft constitution was presented to the audience, which numbered well over 100 for their approval, and after the draft constitution be accepted, it was also agreed that the name of the organisation should be the “Derby West Indian Association”. The election of officers took place under the guidance of Mr. A. Bethume, Community Development Welfare Officer of the Migrant Services Department of the Jamaican High Commission”. (Mr. Bethume has now been dead for some years but his thoughts are with us).

The following persons were elected as officers for the period of one year:


Events and activities were developed by the Association for its members to enjoy. The ‘Federation’ dance was one of the first events and, following Jamaican independence in 1962, the annual ‘Federation’ dance was changed to an independence celebration and held in August. Events were held across Derby in venues including the Locarno Ball Room, the Pennine Hotel, the Co-op and the Trocadero with an array of dignitaries in attendance from Caribbean High Commissioners to British MPs.  


Day trips were also organised for members. Early records show outings to Llandudno in Wales and Skegness in the summer of 1963. Members travelled to Scarborough in 1965 and to Southport in 1968. Without the collective unity of the Association, many West Indians would not have had the ability to make trips like this.


From 1955 to 1982 DWICA meetings took place mainly in the evening, attended by men and women at various private homes. As the membership grew it became necessary to host meetings at public venues.  

The locations below were recorded in the original Association Minutes Books as venues for Management Committee, Members or public meetings as well as social evenings and Annual General Meetings:

  • 25, Crewe Street

  • 250, Abbey Street

  • 59, Sale Street

  • 18, Birdwood St

  • 17, West Drive

  • St James Church Hall, Douglas Street

  • Pear Tree House, Pear Tree Street

  • Normanton Hotel, Normanton Road

  • Cambridge Hotel, Dairyhouse Road

  • Hodgkinson Coffee Bar, Pear Tree Road

  • Madeley Centre, Madeley Street

  • Havana Club, Uttoxeter New Road

  • Council for Racial Equality offices, Normanton Road

It became apparent that the Association needed a permanent centre from which to lead its activities.

One of the organisation’s long-term goals was to have a community building but several attempts were made without success. In 1977 Mr. Solomon Walters (commonly known  as Ricky) became DWIA President. Working with Derby Council for Voluntary Services, an application was made for a grant towards what was called a “Day Centre”, with a hall to provide accommodation for 200 people, a nursery, a room for the elderly West Indians,  a library, office, Committee Room, indoor games equipment and furnishings.

The application failed, but an application in 1977/78 under the Government Urban  Programme, through Derbyshire County Council, was successful. In 1981 the first phase of the building was completed. Plans can be seen in the gallery below.

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    Plans of the DWIA centre

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    Plans of the DWIA centre

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    Plans of the DWIA centre

Establishing Community

In 1985 DWIA attained charitable status with a new name: Derby West Indian Community Association (DWICA). Thus the organisation was nationally recognised and registered with the charity commission for England and Wales, registration number 517068.

DWICA still operates services from its community centre on Carrington Street, making it one of the oldest African Caribbean community organisations in Britain—something to celebrate as Derby bids to be City of Culture in 2025!