Pioneers in England


In the 1950s and 60s there was a large influx of men, women and children from the Caribbean islands.  Some of these men and women came to work mainly in the factories, hospitals and transport, whilst others came to further their education in their specific career. There was also large numbers of ex-servicemen from the allied forces who wanted to see “the mother country”.  

With them they brought certain aspects of their culture which did not always run smoothly with the English way of life at that time. Whether it was religion, music or dress, the Caribbean people would hold on to their culture as it gave them a sense of belonging and reminded them of family members and friends remaining in their homelands.

For Trinidadians, calypso, carnival and steelpans were important themes in home life. However these themes were not exclusive to TrinidadMany of the other caribbean islands enjoyed calypso, celebrated carnival, and the steelpan instrument had already begun to take root.

In England, many of the Caribbean newcomers made attempts to replicate steelpan life.  Sterling Betancourt is notably the most influential early pioneer in England, probably due to him being a member of TASPO. However we must remember that Betancourt was not the first person to introduce steelpans to England and that many Caribbean newcomers had already set up home across England.

Although it was not their intention to bring steelpan culture to England, they soon found that they were drawn into promoting steelpans by sharing its unique culture.

These pioneers were the exports of pan, and so its tenure in England began.