Cynthia came from Jamaica to live in Stratford in 1955.


Listen to an interview with Cynthia.

You can also read excerpts from the interview below.

About this painting

Oil on canvas, 65x45cm, 2008


From the interview

On the London smog

I arrived from Jamaica on 6 Dec 1955. It was a Tuesday and then I went for a job on the Wednesday and I had to start working on (Thursday) the 8th.

By the weekend I was coming home from work and I couldn't find my house, so I found a policeman in the dark, in the smog, and he took me there (home). A couple of weeks after that, the bus inspector had to walk in front of the bus with a gas lamp because of the fog - that's what it was like in them days.

On shopping in Stratford

There were a lot of shops and stores in Stratford in those days. You had Boardmans, British Home Stores and, where the (Ibis) hotel is now on the Romford Road, there was the big Young and Marten's store. Stratford was a really nice little place. There was a big bloke who worked on a ship who opened a West Indian shop right opposite the big pub on Angel Lane - his nickname was Tarzan. Everyone used to go to Stratford to shop.

On chimneys

When I first came here, what I saw I hadn't expected. For instance, when I was coming on the train, I saw all the chimneys on the houses and I said to my husband "What a lot of factories!" and he started laughing. "They're houses" he said. (In Jamaica, the only buildings with chimneys were factories and bakeries).