June and Jennifer Gibbons, the Silent Twins Sent to Broadmoor for Arson
The pact the pair made for a better life.
Originally from Barbados, the Gibbons family immigrated to Britain in the early 1960s as part of the Windrush Generation. The twin girls were inseparable and went everywhere together, so much so that they invented their own language to converse.
The family primarily spoke English at home; however, the young June and Jennifer Gibbons started to speak a mix between English and sped-up Bajan Creole.
The two became known as the ‘silent twins.’ Their behaviour over the years would reach a level that when they committed a minor crime, they were sent to Broadmoor Mental Hospital.
The twins served twelve years in Broadmoor, identified as criminally insane before being released. However, this was not the end of their tragic life.
In April 1963, the twins were born in a military hospital in Yemen. When the twins reached speaking age, it became clear to Gloria and Aubrey Gibbons that their daughters were different.
Both girls were considerably behind their peers regarding their language skills, but they had also become inseparable. Twins are known to be close, but these two took this to another level, developing their language and refusing to converse with anyone else.
They would spend most of their time mirroring each other’s every move. As they got older, the bullying at school increased, and so did their withdrawal from others. Having spoken to a friend about being part of Windrush, these stories are all too familiar to me.
The girls lived in Wales in 1971; when they were eight, they started a new school near their home. The issue was that the other children had not seen black faces during these times, and the racism the girls suffered reached a horrific level.
Eight or nine, we started suffering, and we stopped talking; people called us names—we were the only Black girls in school. Terrible names. They pulled our hair. - June Gibbons