University of Reading researcher Alice Mpofu-Coles spoke with Jeffrey in December 2020. Together, they discussed Jeffrey's life growing up on the Oxford Road and his hopes for the area's future.
Below, discover highlights from their conversation!
Jeff's parents came to Britain from Barbados. They were a part of the Windrush generation. Jeff explains how Reading and Oxford Road became their home, but also they had their home in the Caribbean. In fact, a town in Barbados, Speightstown, is twinned with Reading, but Jeff’s parents were from St. Andrews & St. James respectively. Then you also discover that Africa is your home too because your ancestors came from there.
The cover image of Jeff's album 'Windrush Generation', produced for the 70th anniversary of the Empire Windrush docking at Tilbury
Jeff explains how Oxford Road was a stable community for him growing up, the majority of people living there at the time were Caucasian or from the West Indies, with a few African and Asian people.
Jeff remembers a Chinese Restaurant on Oxford Road, a Chinese Fish & Chips Shop on George Street. Mr and Mrs Williams (a West Indian couple) had a shop on George street and later on the Oxford Road. These were the shops the young people went into to buy their snacks on route to Oxford Road Primary School.
He remembers how the young people were very disciplined. They were careful how they behaved as they did not want to be exposed as the shop keepers and everybody along the road knew each other. The young people growing up along Oxford Road also all knew each other. There was George Street Part which was a big part of the development of young people from that area of Reading. Jeff remembers that he used to use the library on Oxford Road with his brothers and friends as the days of the Internet had not yet arrived.
Entrance to Battle Library, Oxford Road (c) RBC
Jeff went to Oxford Road Primary school in the 60s. Oxford Road Primary was the first school to begin a steel band in Reading, that was 1971, though a full band would then be properly established in 1973 where Jeff’s younger brother Jerry was very instrumental in its establishment. Jeff has attended every Reading Community Carnival since its inception in 1977 but was an organiser from 1985 to 2002. In 2003, Jeff established AJ’s Calypso Tent which introduced the Calypso Tent to the Reading Community Carnival Season as an important cultural aspect of the Caribbean-style carnival.
This was a band that Jeff played with in 1986 – Robin Hood & His Merry Men & Woman (Pictured Colin Bibby & Patricia Clarke)
Jeff believes the Oxford Road vicinity is the place where diversity through integration came into Reading in the 1950s and this should be highlighted and celebrated more.
Attitudes to expanding heritage and culture in Reading and surrounding areas has not always been warmly received or correctly interpreted. However, he is optimistic that through initiative like the HSHAZ, greater understanding and value will be placed on the historic and current diversity of this area of Reading past, present and future.
Jeff with one of his original Tenor Pans, 1980
The Windrush Generation by De Admiral UK Calypso Monarch 2018 - Live Performance
The UK Calypso Monarch Final on 23rd August 2018 at the Tabernacle (Carnival Village) London. This was the winning performance by De Admiral (Jeff Hinds). News of The Windrush Scandal had just broken and here De Admiral captures the magnitude of feeling with his Topical Calypso Composition.
Jeff performing his winning performance at Notting Hill Carnival UK Calypso Monarch Final, 23rd August 2018. Jeff's song 'The Windrush Generation' won him Calypso Monarch Crown Title and King of the Calypso Tent Crown.