LISTEN TO NELL GREEN INTERVIEW HERE:
Nelzine (Nell) Green born 18 April 1938 in Jamaica was one of eight children. She came to England in June 1962 to train as a nurse. She spoke of the advertising campaign in Jamaica to encourage people to come to England. She had a brother and aunt living in the West Midlands and came to live with her aunt after the family raised the money for her fare.
Nell travelled by plane and took a train from London to Dudley in the West Midlands. She talks of her first impressions, thinking houses were chimneys. She lived in her aunt’s house with her aunt’s family who rented out rooms to Jamaican lodgers. Getting a job was her first priority and got work in a local hospital and soon moved into nurse’s accommodation.
Nell spoke of the local market for buying foods and a stall holder Mr Lampie and shopkeepers. She talked of her experience of racism and why black people lived together sharing rooms in houses, buying a house and use of Pardnor a saving scheme . She told stories of racial tension and attacks in the Midlands by Teddy boys against black people.
She met her husband in the hospital where she worked. He was an English Doctor. He had to write to her father in Jamaica to ask permission to date her. They got married in 1968. And had two children who they took to Malaya where they worked for three years. There were two other black nurses from the Caribbean and commonwealth working in the same hospital. On their return they moved to Jamaica to live for 18 months. She felt there were racial harmony in Jamaica and no friction with her marrying a white man. She talked of discrimination while working in military hospitals and the attitude of white women who wouldn’t talk to her due to their husband’s rank being higher than her husband’s rank.
She and her husband returned to England and moved to Brightlingsea Colchester where only one other black woman lived at the time.
Nell explained her reason for becoming a nurse and told a story of a friend who died in childbirth due to ignorance. She felt there was a lack of properly trained midwives in rural Jamaica and questioned why only after independence did the Caribbean eventual have rural clinics. She talked of her expectations, achievements and living in Brightlingsea Colchester.