KELSO COCHRANE HONOURED
WITH A BLUE LAQUE
50 years to the day, after the violent murder of North Kensington resident Kelso Cochrane, the Nubian Jak Community Trust is to install a Blue Plaque at the Grove Inn Restaurant & Bar, on the corner of Golborne Road and Southam Street, W10.
The commemorative plaque will be unveiled on Sunday 17th May at 3pm by His Excellency Dr Karl Roberts, High Commissioner of Antigua and Barbuda, the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, Councillor The Hon Joanna Gardner, and Jak Beula, Chair of the Nubian Jak Community Trust.
The unveiling is part of a year long program to remember the 1958 riots by the 1958-9 Remembered Steering Group and to celebrate the community achievements since.
The 1958 Notting Hill riots were recently highlighted in the popular British soap series EastEnders, in an historic episode in March 2009, which for the first time featured an all-black cast.
Kelso Cochrane moved to London from Antigua in 1954, where he settled in Notting Hill and worked as a carpenter.
He planned to study law and was saving money earned from his work to pay for
his tuition fees. One evening after fracturing his thumb in an accident at
work, he went along to the A&E department of Paddington
General Hospital for treatment. It was while walking home from
there that he was set upon by a group of white racists. One of the men
stabbed Kelso through the heart with a stiletto knife; three other men came to his aid
prompting his attackers to flee. Those three men took Kelso to hospital,
where he died soon afterwards. His funeral was attended by more than 1,200 people.
Mosley’s British Union Movement was active in Notting Hill and
Kelso Cochrane’s death led to the British Government setting up an investigation into race relations, chaired by Amy Ashwood Garvey. It would result in improved community relations, and better understanding between the diverse communities living in the North Kensington area.
Jak Beula, Chair of the Nubian Jak
Community Trust said: ‘The death
of Kelso Cochrane and the subsequent outrage it caused made worldwide news
in 1959. Like Stephen Lawrence, his passing led to a reassessment of race
Councillor Pat Mason, 1958 Remembered
said: “Kelso’s shocking murder
led to the defeat of Oswald Mosley in the 1959 election and his fascist
forces chased out of North Kensington”
HISTORYtalk Director Pat Fuller
'This plaque is a signficant step in
the lasting commemoration of Kelso Cochrane, and a reminder that all
communities need to stand together now and in the future.'
Colin Prescod, Chair of HISTORYtalk
said: ‘Our local history is
Notes to Editors
The unveiling will be attended by His Excellency Dr Karl Roberts, High
Commissioner of Antigua and Barbuda, The Hon Joanna Gardner, Jak Beula Chair
of the Nubian Jak Community Trust, Manpreet Dillon - Managing Director of
Kensington Housing Trust, Colin Prescod - HISTORYtalk, Alex Pascal -
Broadcaster, North Kensington MP, and Karen Buck, Golborne Councillor Emma
Dent Coad. Also attending are 80 year old Velma Davis, and 83 year old Lucky
Gordon, both residents of
The Nubian Jak Community Trust Plaque Scheme is the only national BME plaque
scheme in the
January 28, 2009
for Article: Covers of Both Books, postage stamp
for Article: Covers of Both Books, postage stamp
This four part series looks back a half century at a seminal event, the first Trinidad styled Carnival ever held in London on January 30, 1959. It was these annual carnival dances that paved the way for the Notting Hill Carnival, the largest public event in Europe each year. The first article is about the instigator of the Carnival, Claudia Jones. The second reviewed the career of its choreographer Stanley Jack and this third one considers the Carnival event itself and the last looks at the rest of the Jones carnival dances.
Fifty years ago this Friday, a unique event happened at Saint
Pancreas Hall in central
This unique event was the vision of Claudia Jones (1915-1964) who in the wake of the Notting Hill Riots wanted to put on display for British culture that unique Caribbean explosion of joy and culture, Carnival. She and her newspaper sponsored the Carnival each year until she died. >Indeed, while based on the Trinidad Carnival and with a large number of Trinidadians, Jones in her vision of this Carnival wanted it to be like the West Indies cricket team really a pan-Caribbean Carnival as she wrote in the souvenir booklet for the Carnival:
evoked the wholehearted response from the peoples from the Islands of the Caribbean in the new West Indies Federation, this is itself testament to the role of the arts in bringing people together for common aims, and to its fusing of the cultural, spiritual, as well as political and economic interests of West Indians in the UK and at home.
While little remembered for many years, Claudia Jones is starting to
take her place as a unique Caribbean woman who faced jail and exile for her
political beliefs in the United States. She went on to create the first weekly Black newspaper in
England, the West Indian Gazette, as well as become the mother of Carnival in England. Last year saw a
fascinating second book about her published, Carole Boyce Davies Left of Karl Marx: Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones.
The plaques were unveiled in August before last year’s Notting Hill Carnival. The High Commission for the Republic Trinidad and Tobago noted at the time, "We are pleased to be associated with this commemorative event to celebrate the life of Claudia Jones. A true daughter of the soil, Ms. Jones’ efforts to promote our culture and bring recognition to the early Caribbean diaspora and thereby create history in the United Kingdom must be heralded."
Only recently has her pivotal role been accepted. That started with a 1996 symposium organized by historian Marika Sherwood at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies London in an attempt to preserve oral memories of this remarkable woman by those who knew her. This resulted in a book, Claudia Jones A Life in Exile (Lawrence & Wishart). More recently, Carole Boyce Davies’ award winning Left of Marx has explored Jones’ philosophy in detail, looking at her writings and speeches going back to when she was active in the American Communist Party. It offers a detailed look at her life in the United States and her struggles for women’s rights and worker’s rights while facind incarceration and deportation but still had energy for poetry and journalism. Professor Davies is currently editing a collection of Jones’ writings. Taken together, it appears there is a Claudia Jones renaissance going on.
Born in Trinidad, Jones’s family moved to Harlem when she was eight. As she grew up, she became very politicized about working conditions for the poor in the United States. This led her to joining first the Young Communist League of the Communist Party of the USA where she became a writer for the party and later editor for their publications. She became a leading speaker for the party and was unique in presenting the perspective of a Black working woman on issues of labor and discrimination. In the McCarthy era, she was arrested and sent to jail four different times and served months in jail. In 1955, she was deported to England. She soon founded a newspaper to serve the Caribbean immigrant community. Called the West Indian Gazette, it was the most important media for the Caribbean community in England.
After horrible race riots occurred in Notting Hill, Jones organized a meeting to discuss what could be done. Donald Hinds, a writer for the Gazette, recently recalled what happened next:
Claudia asked for suggestions which would wash the taste of Notting Hill and Nottingham out of our mouths. It was then that someone, most likely a Trinidadian, suggested that we should have a carnival - in winter? It was December of 1958. Everybody laughed, and then Claudia called us to order. 'Why not?' she asked. 'Could it not be held in a hall, somewhere?'
Thus, was born the first Carnival which continued every year until her death. Dead before her 50th birthday, the newspaper soon folded and her Carnival stopped only to be revived in a different form as the Notting Hill Carnival.
In 1959, when she wanted to create a British version of Carnival she went to two leading Trinidadian artists to put the show together. She chose as director Edric Connor, already a leading actor and performer at the time who was having great success in feature films and had just been the first actor to appear in a Royal Shakespeare company production in Stratford on Avon. For choreographer of the show, she chose a talent Trinidadian dancer who had moved to England, only months before, Stanley Jack. He is not so well remembered these days. But read more about him tomorrow.
Ray Funk (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a fellow of the Academy at UTT and a criminal trial judge in Alaska where he is suffering through a bitter cold winter and cannot wait to head down for Carnival in Trinidad in a few days.
January 29, 2009
II. Stanley Jack
By Ray Funk
four part series looks back a half century at a seminal event, the first
Trinidad styled Carnival ever held in London on January 30, 1959. It was
these annual carnival dances
paved the way for the Notting Hill Carnival, the largest public event in
each year. The first article was about the instigator of the Carnival,
Claudia Jones. This second reviews the career of its choreographer Stanley
Jack and this third one considers the Carnival event itself and the last
looks at the rest of the Jones carnival dances.
This four part series looks back a half century at a seminal event, the first Trinidad styled Carnival ever held in London on January 30, 1959. It was these annual carnival dances that paved the way for the Notting Hill Carnival, the largest public event in Europe each year. The first article was about the instigator of the Carnival, Claudia Jones. This second reviews the career of its choreographer Stanley Jack and this third one considers the Carnival event itself and the last looks at the rest of the Jones carnival dances.
Fifty years ago at St. Pancreas
Growing up in Woodbrook, Stanley
He also determined on his own to study traditional folk dance and folk songs. He did field work in Trinidad, the Grenadines, and St. Vincent. He also accepted a six month scholarship from the legendary Lavina Williams to her Haitian Institute of Folklore and Classic Dance. In his interest in folk culture, Jack became very interested in the belair and in shango.
His greatest interest was in
With them, Jack took a memorable
The troupe returned to Trinidad
and continued to do shows locally and around Trinidad. Then in 1958 he went to
Pearl Connor acted as Jack’s
agent and he soon got work acting, as an extra in films, and performing
cabaret. He appeared in Errol John’s Moon
on a Rainbow Shawl in the
Stanley Jack and his wife Patsy
Fleming who had been part of Allister Bain’s troupe of Grenadian folk
dancers teamed up. She quickly became one of the leading female limbo
It was this uniquely experienced
Trinidad performer that Claudia Jones sought out to produce the first three
years of Carnival in
is a fellow of the Academy at UTT and a criminal
trial judge in
Friday, January 30, 2009
Festivities at St. Pancreas Hall 1959
This four part series looks back a half century at a seminal event, the first Trinidad styled Carnival ever held in London on January 30, 1959. It was these annual carnival dancesthat paved the way for the Notting Hill Carnival, the largest public event in Europe each year. The first article was about the instigator of the Carnival, Claudia Jones. The second reviewed the career of its choreographer Stanley Jack and this third one considers the Carnival event itself and the last looks at the rest of the Jones carnival dances.
Fifty years ago today, Trinidadians in London brought their Carnival
to St Pancreas Town Hall where they had a packed event, a fabulous time and
part of the show was even televised on the BBC. Sponsored by Claudia Jones
and her West Indian Gazette, the show was directed by Edric Connor who,
before the event occurred, noted to the Jamaica
Gleaner, “We want to make it as much like the
Edric Connor had arranged for the BBC to broadcast live a half hour
televised glimpse of the Carnival from 10:45 pm to 11:15 pm. It featured the
crowning of the Carnival Queen and the cabaret portion of the show.
The primary event was the beauty contest. There were twelve
contestants, six from
The first winner Fay Sparkes
(later Faye Craig) was from
Trinidad. She later was appeared in two obscure British film called Jungle
Street Girls (1961) and The
Informer (1963). She also performed with Boscoe Holder in various
scopitone short films and other settings.
There was much dancing by everyone who attended but there was also a cabaret performance with a number of artists. The reporter for the Jamaica Gleaner noted:
Despite the cramped conditions, the show went on with a bang. Songs from Edric Connor, The Southlanders and the Sepia Serenaders [with soloist Pearl Prescod] and dances from David Berahzer’s Malimba Dancers were enthusiastically received. Trinidad calypsonian – The Mighty Terror – sang the number he had specially composed for the occasion, and the evening was enlivened by Errol Phillips and the Trinidad Hummingbirds steelband, with solos by Venice Villarion.
featured in the cabaret were Boscoe Holder and his troupe performing
“Carnival Fantasia”. There were exhibitions of limbo dancing, tamboo
bamboo, and bongo. Fitzroy Coleman performed on his guitar and the young
jazz singer Cleo Laine performed with Guyanese pianist Mike McKenzie and his
Stanley Jack remembers they also did a jump up around the building
and back in the hall. They had no problem with the police who were too
stunned and amused to see any problem. The Southlanders were a quartet of
Jamaicans who were protégés of Edric Connor that he took under his wing in
the early Fifties and used as back up on his albums. On their own, the
Southlanders became a very popular quartet having top ten hits in
Taking everything into account,
Claudia Jones’ 1959 Carnival was an unqualified success, which led to it
being annual affair.But read
more on the other Claudia Jones Carnivals tomorrow.
Funk (email@example.com) is a fellow of the Academy at UTT and a criminal
trial judge in
Express, Saturday, January 31, 2009
London Carnival 1960 - 1964
By Ray Funk
This four part series looks back a half century at a seminal event, the first Trinidad styled Carnival ever held in London on January 30, 1959. It was these annual carnival dancesthat paved the way for the Notting Hill Carnival, the largest public event in Europe each year. The first article was about the instigator of the Carnival, Claudia Jones. The second reviewed the career of its choreographer Stanley Jack and the third one considered the Carnival event itself. This last one looks at the rest of the Jones carnival dances.
In the souvenir program for the 1959 Carnival that occurred fifty
years ago, Claudia Jones wrote: “It would be unfair for me not to tell you
that we have still another determination, that is, to make the [West
Indian Gazette] Caribbean Carnival an annual event.” Her determination
became a reality and for the next five years the West Indian Gazette
sponsored highly successful carnivals each year.
For 1960, the Carnival was switched to the bigger Seymour Hall and
over two thousand people turned out, though they still had to turn people
away. A portion was again broadcast on the BBC again. Edric Conner, Stanley
Jack remembered, had hoped to make a film of these carnival dances but was
not able to put that together. It was a fast paced cabaret program of the
best as the Jamaica Gleaner
It began with a fire dance, followed by [Trinidadian] Rupert Nurse and his orchestra, the Russ Henderson Trinidadian Steel Band, the Tropicana steelband, Grenadian Allister Bain and his dancers. Then came the soloists, British Guiana’s Cy Grant, Jamaican Elaine Delmar, and Trinidadian calypsonian Lord Kitchener, Trinidadian dancer Patsy Fleming [the late Mrs. Stanley Jack] performing a spirited limbo dance.
Henry also performed that year as did Corine Skinner-Carter. Delmar was then
a young singer who grew up in show business as the daughter of the great
jazz trumpeter Leslie “Jiver” Hutchinson and has had a long career as a
jazz singer and in theatre.
Allister Bain came to England in 1958 after teaching Dorothy
Dandridge to limbo for the movie Island
in the Sun. Born and raised in Grenada, he led a struggling troupe there
but decided to go on to reach fame and fortune in England. He parleyed
contacts he made during the filming of Island
in the Sun to the world of film, TV and theatre in
The first carnival Bain couldn’t
get in the door it was so crowded and he didn’t know anybody. By the
second, he was performing and continued as part of with these Carnivals.
He danced and had a troupe for several years but later was more
active as an actor in British television. Just in the last few years, he has
had two plays produced in
The 1961 Carnival held in the Lyceum. A Jamaican nurse won the queen
contest.The cabaret featured
Elaine Detmar again and the Ray Ellington orchestra which for many years
featured Laudric Caton,
’s great electric jazz guitarist. Stanley Jack was again in charge and the
show featured his limbo dancers. Stanley
Jack remembers that he invited lots of British theatre and film people who
came and supported these carnivals.
The 1962 Carnival was held again at Seymour Hall again on March 16,
1962.This was a particularly
momentous one because Jones and her committee arranged for the Mighty
Sparrow, by then the most celebrated calypsonian in
While Sparrow had been to the
In 1963, the London Carnival got away from the beauty queen contest
and replaced it with a Carnival masquerade costume competition. It was won
by a Trinidadian playing King Sailor. Highlights of the cabaret featured the
great Trinidadian actor Horace James who had come to
Trinidadian comedian Horace James
compered with his usual brilliance, excelling himself with a skit on various
British television shows as he thinks they will be presented on television
In 1964, again had a costume contest which was won by two men
portraying jab jabs. Dixieland steelband was back and Gene Lawrence’s
combo provided music.The
cabaret show featured Horace James, Alaister Bain, and Corine
Skinner-Carter, who has gone on to have a long career in British television.
The six years that the Claudia Jones Carnivals were held they were
remarkable in bringing together the West Indian community to celebrate their
culture. Indeed, a great many of the leading figures in many aspects of
culture were involved. Judges for the beauty and costume competitions
included writers like George Lamming, Jan Carew and Andrew Salkey, actors
like Cy Grant, Pearl Prescod, Nadia Catouse and Lloyd Reckord, the great
Edric and Pearl Connor and Amy Ashwood Garvey as well as prominent business
people and politicians.
Both the newspaper and the
Carnival stopped after Jones’s death in early 1965 but with the creation
of Notting Hill Carnival, what Claudia Jones started has become bigger than
she could ever imagine!
is a fellow of the Academy at UTT and a criminal
trial judge in
©2009 Carole Boyce-Davies