Birmingham Black Oral History Project R1173 Oral History Interview – Ryland Campbell 09/09/1991 – 14/09/1991 Interviewee: Ryland Campbell Interviewer: Doreen Price
This is an oral history interview with Ryland Campbell, recorded in 1991, as part of the Birmingham Black Oral History Project (BBOHP), discussing his life in Jamaica and the UK.
Ryland was mainly raised by his aunt in Jamaica as his mother was young and worked away in Kingston. He talks about not having a father in his life and the difficulties this caused him. His mother decided to emigrate to England and later sent for Ryland. He arrived in 1952 and began working as a bus conductor for Midland Red. As a young man he married his wife Margret, a midwife, and they had two children. He talks about the difficulties of being in a mixed-race relationship at the time. Ryland talks at length about the Handsworth Riots and performs some of his songs and poetry.
These recordings include racially explicit content, including discussions of racism, prejudice and violence; racially explicit language; and language and phrasing that we would not use today. Some of this content might be unsuitable for younger listeners or triggering for People of Colour. We recommend reading the description for each track before choosing to listen
Track 1 Music Ryland discusses how he got into playing music after working as an engineer for a short time.
Track 2 First Arrest Ryland continues to his growing interest in playing music and artistic professions and how he was arrested for apparent loitering in the West End of Jamaica.
Track 3 Second Arrest Ryland recount his second arrest for nearly stealing someone's motorbike outside a pub.
Track 4 Criminal Justice System Ryland describe the issue of Race in the Jamaican criminal justice system and how his second arrest led his mother to decide to send him to England.
Track 5 Money Ryland describes how he made extra money as a teenager working at a dry cleaner and how his mother made money to come to England by sewing clothes.
Track 6 Moving to England Ryland discusses how after his mother left for England first, he had to decide whether to stay and work in Jamaica or move to England.
Track 7 Leaving Jamaica Ryland recalls how he got the money to leave Jamaica in July 1956 and travel by boat to England.
Track 8 Travelling Ryland recounts the 21-day journey from Jamaica to Barcelona by boat and the food they ate while on board.
Track 9 Travelling cont. Ryland then talks about arriving in Europe and then travelling by train to Calais before arriving by boat in Dover.
Track 10 First impressions Ryland describes his first impression of England when he arrived.