About the object

Slough made history by electing the country’s first black female mayor in 1984 and Slough Museum hold her Mayoral Robe in our collection.

Lydia Simmons was born in Monserrat, a tiny island in the West Indies. Her cousin, Beresford Alleyne was at one time the island’s Prime Minister. She left at the age of 17 in order to join her parents in London, before moving to Slough in 1960. She first became interested in politics when she met Councillor John Hurley, and this led her to join the Labour Party. In 1979 she became Slough’s first black woman councillor. She was re-elected in 1983, and in that year became the first black person to be elected Deputy Mayor. In January 1984 she was nominated to be Mayor, thus making the headlines both locally and nationally. Her investiture followed in May 1984.

About the artwork

Slough based writer and storyteller, Christina Brooks-Abraham worked with community members, including from the Slough Caribbean Forum to share stories and create a collaborative response to – like Lydia – being part of the Windrush Generation.

“Invited to Britain, the intention to travel overseas, across the ocean to shores unknown, to a Motherland they would soon call home…some wondered ‘Is this for me?’ for some this was the first time they had recognised such hostility”

You can hear their stories below: