Empire’s Children contributor’s workshop.
On Wednesday 8 August, Channel 4 is running a one-day workshop for people with stories to tell about the British Empire. The workshop is intended to complement the television series, Empire’s Children, currently airing on Monday nights at 9pm. Attendees are encouraged to bring photographs, transcripts and recordings if they have them.
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Empire’s Children on the Passenger Lists
One of the celebrities featured in Empire’s Children is Dame Diana Rigg. Diana lived in India between the ages of two and eight because her father worked on the railways in Bikaner.
Her father, Louis Rigg, was born in Doncaster and served an apprenticeship with the Great Northern Railway. At the end of his apprenticeship he decided to reply to an advert for unmarried men to come to Rajasthan and work on the railways, as work of a similar kind in England had grown scarce.
Aged 22, Louis left for India in 1925. His entry on the passenger lists on ancestorsonboard can be seen below:
Louis progressed during his time in India, eventually achieving the rank of Chief Mechanical Engineer on the Jodphur Railway. An equivalent post in Britain would have earned him a Knighthood.
After the Empire
Following Indian Independence, Louis and his family returned to Britain, like so many other families who had lived in comfort in India. The process of readjusting to life in the austerity of post-war Britain was a notoriously difficult one, particularly for someone who had grown used to mixing with the leading lights of the British administration.
There was a degree of antipathy towards those who returned to England from India after World War Two, a lingering sense that they had been absent during the hardships of that time.
Ancestors on Board currently includes outbound passenger lists from the UK from 1890 to 1929, but will eventually cover lists up to 1960.