Colville Community Forum
The Albert Hotel pub west corner of All Saints Road and Cornwall Road now Westbourne Park Road 1900s on the site of the off-license. On June 19 1944 a V1 rocket hit the junction of Westbourne Park Road and Clydesdale Road and Mews (on the site of Clydesdale House), across the road from the Albert pub, killing 21 people. The site subsequently became a bombsite boys playground, recalled by Eddie Adams: 'The doodlebug V1 rocket dropped in 1944 on the site bordered by Westbourne Park Road and Clydesdale Road. There was a mews on the west side leading on to Clydesdale Road, this mews was completely obliterated. The houses opposite the mews were badly damaged and eventually pulled down between the now one remaining house and Westbourne Park Road. Before this the local kids including myself played games in them. By 1948 this area was covered with debris. At one end there was a hill of rubble. The Olympics of 1948 caught the imagination of us local children and we decided to stage our own mini-Olympics. This included tossing the hammer – a brick on the end of a piece of a rope – and throwing the javelin made out of a piece of scrap piping from the hill.'
All Saints Road east corner of Cornwall/Westbourne Park Road 1900s site of the Mangrove restaurant 1968-91. 'Mangrove, smell of hashish, swirling clouds of ashen smoke, weave in, around, away, palms like giant fingers, sounds of laughing, belly deep and penetrating, wise words and indiscretions, deep canary yellows, matted reds and browns, a tropical tapestry of colour, light and sounds.' Jenneba Sie Jalloh, 'All Saints and Sinners'.
The Mangrove restaurant was founded at 8 All Saints Road in 1968 by Frank Crichlow, previously of El Rio cafe at 127 Westbourne Park Road (where Christine Keeler met Lucky Gordon in the Profumo affair). As the Mangrove became the hippest Notting Hill restaurant of them all, 'turn on West Indian and English feasts' were served to Sammy Davis Junior, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan, Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Four Tops, CLR James, Vanessa Redgrave, Jimmy Hill and the cast of 'The Avengers'. Frank recalled: "People would be waiting outside in cars until tables were free. The place was out of this world – in just a couple of months it was pop-u-lar...
"The place would be packed and we'd see the police peeping through the windows…" In 1970 a march was organised to protest about police persecution of the Mangrove around the three local police stations, Notting Hill station on Ladbroke Road, Sirdar Road in Notting Dale, and the plan was to finish at Harrow Road. As the march went up Great Western Road under the newly opened Westway, police attempts to divert it away from the Harrow Road station resulted in a mini-riot on Portnall Road, the arrest of 17 demonstrators, and the trial of the Mangrove 9 – including Frank and Darcus Howe.
The following month Jimi Hendrix was reputedly last seen in the Mangrove the night before he died. Bob Marley also appeared at the restaurant when he was recording on Basing Street. Next door at 8a All Saints Road the hippy healthfood shop Ceres (later at 269 Portobello Road) cooked up the macrobiotic food revolution unhindered by the establishment. As well as feeding the hippy festival masses, the Ceres Sams family were wholefood suppliers to John Lennon and Yoko Ono and Marc and June Bolan.
In 1971 the Mangrove 9 were acquitted of conspiracy to cause riot and affray. The Mangrove special International Times reported: 'In the pub afterwards, the jurors explained why they went against Judge Clarke's biased conduct of the trial and told defendants they were astonished at police methods and thought they often lied.' In the Met's football analogy the verdict was seen as Mangrove 1 Police 0. The notorious PC Frank Pulley remained adamant that 8 All Saints Road was a legitimate object of frequent police investigation, as it was 'a haunt of criminals, prostitutes and the like.' The new North Kensington Labour MP Bruce Douglas-Mann said in the trial that the mere presence of Pulley in the area constituted 'a provocation to the black population.' Whereas Pulley's boss Gilbert Kelland cited him in 'Crime in London' as 'one of the most outstanding operational officers the force has ever known.' David May of Friends and the Kensington News recalled Pulley's line was: 'I am in no way racist, but these blacks are breaking the law with Marijuana.'
'It was those same people, the ones who were called pimps and prostitutes and drug pushers, who created Carnival and keep creating it… On that level the establishment did not suppress the black movement. We won; we more than won. We created a community.' Courtney Tulloch, 'Days in the Life'. As the police inadvertently brought about Courtney Tulloch's black British revolution, the Mangrove transformed from a Caribbean cafe into the black power restaurant/community association/working men's club/revolutionary talking shop. The Met's reefer madness began two decades of Mangrove raids, busts, trials, demos, riots and general antagonism between the police and the black community, that made All Saints Road the epicentre of young black London, the capital's main reggae artery and the Carnival backstage area. In the 1976 riot the Mangrove was besieged by police and Frank Crichlow and Darcus Howe were arrested again.
Through the 80s the premises were regularly raided, as All Saints became known as the frontline. In the 1987 police 'swamp' of the area, as part of the inner-city crime crackdown Operation Trident, the Mangrove was raided again and this time Frank Crichlow was charged with possession of heroin. To the Wise brothers, the accompanying installation of surveillance cameras and the closure of squatted 'abandoned commercial property' marked the start of Notting Hill gentrification: 'Within days a house in McGregor Road was to fetch £300,000. The very centre of Carnival revolt in the 80s had finally fallen and the light had gone out on the last remaining shambles of an urban trouble spot.'
Lee Jasper recalls dealing with a mas band sequin crisis as the 1987 riot began: 'The police were attempting to close down, fit up and destroy Mangrove and indeed the whole of Carnival. We're on the verge of a major civil disturbance and people would be coming in and saying I don't have any red sequins.' In the last Mangrove trial Frank Crichlow was once more cleared of trumped up drugs charges. After that the police raided the Mangrove some more, causing further clashes on All Saints and the last big Carnival riot in 89.
According to the Standard: '5,000 police, almost 600 in full riot gear with shields, and some police on horseback, fought running battles with pockets of revellers after trouble was sparked in the All Saints Road area. Within seconds they had to retreat under a hail of bottles and flower pots. Uniformed officers battled in vain to contain the trouble, drafting in riot police who sealed off a section of Lancaster Road. But they came under attack from two directions as youths in All Saints Road and Westbourne Park Road began hurling missiles.'
As 'The Mangrove: 21 Years of Resistance' banner came down in 1991, 6-8 All Saints Road reopened as the Portobello Dining Rooms. Rastafarians were succeeded by trustafarians and the street name started to appear in more restaurant reviews than crime reports. However, then came the mid 90s crack cocaine drug crime revival. Frank Crichlow was subsequently awarded £50,000 damages.
In the run-up to the 95 Carnival, Ma's Café at 6-8 All Saints Road (formerly the Mangrove, the Portobello Dining Rooms and Nice, since Manor, Ruby & Sequoia, the Hurlingham and Rum Kitchen) was the scene of a scuffle involving Hugh Grant, in which the actor was ridiculed over the Divine Brown affair. An onlooker said: 'He was okay but he had a bit of blood on him. I don't think he'll be back.' After the demise of the Mangrove restaurant, the frontline spirit was maintained by the Mangrove Community Association office over the road until 2002, Daddy Vigo's People's Sound reggae record shop at number 11, the Portobello Music Shop at 13, Nation Records and the Carnival sound-systems. Following a series of Rolex robberies and ‘aristocrats on crack’ reports, Annabel Heseltine wrote in the Standard of ‘Crack, Guns and Fear’ Notting Hell juxtaposed with trustafarian Heaven W11 'Cool Britannia' on All Saints: 'Opposite Philsen's Phil-Inn Station – a café frequented by local hip-swinging Rastas – young media types are strolling into Mas Café… A bakery selling walnut loaves and bagels generates a warm aroma in the direction of Tom Dixon's gallery…' (The designer Tom Dixon was in the 80s group Funkapolitan.)
St Luke's Mews (which runs across All Saints from St Luke's Road to Basing Street) has been inhabited by Marsha Hunt of 'Hair', Lemmy of Motörhead, Chet Baker, Richie Havens, Joan Armatrading of 'Love and Affection' fame, and Paula Yates. In Hollywood W11 the mews appears in 'The Man Who Knew Too Little' - Bill Murray thwarts a mugging attempt, and 'Love Actually' - Andrew Lincoln expresses his feelings for Keira Knightley with Bob Dylan-style placards.
The Apollo pub 18 All Saints Road on the southeast corner of the Lancaster Road junction early 1980s now the Apollo Studios. In 'Once Upon a Time there was a Place called Notting Hill Gate', the normally hypercritical Wise brothers get quite sentimental about the old pub: 'It had been an okay dive, despite the many nights of depression, all 57 varieties of lefties, alternative comedians, dumbo rebel musicians, the Apollo was the communal watering hole of vague libertarianism, which amidst all of its nonsense had something of an anti-competitive, anti-business air to it.'
When the West Indian RAF veteran Baron Baker first came to Notting Hill in the early 50s, he found the only place he could get served was in the public bar of the Apollo. From there he was directed to the Tavistock Road lodging-house of Mrs Fisher, who was known as the first Notting Hill landlady to rent to black people.
Mari Bown was in the Apollo with her father on the Queen's coronation day in 1953: 'I remember turning right into All Saints Road and crossing the road to a parade of shops which included a newsagents/ sweet shop... My next memory is of being left with my brother in a dark smelly place. I later came to understand that this was the Apollo pub and that we had been to a coronation party. Had a Lancaster Road street-party been moved indoors because of the weather or had the party always been planned to take place in this warm, but dark, smelly place?
'I remember being sat on a wooden box at a table. In hindsight, the box was an upturned bottle crate and I'm sure the board on trestle was laid with some sort of tea food. My brother was beside me during this curious event, but I don't know where our parents were. Well, it was probably only daddy. At that time respectable married women, such as my mother, would not have wanted to go into a street corner pub; such were the social mores of the Irish living in that ghetto/neighbourhood at that time. I can't really work out how my mother let my dad take us to such a place, let alone leave us there! In hindsight I wonder if she needed some peace to rest.'
In 1964 Ringo Starr was across Lancaster Road from the Apollo (on the north east corner) in the Beatles film 'A Hard Day's Night'. Ringo first appears, to an instrumental version of 'This Boy (Is In Love With You)', on St Luke's Road. From there he's chased by two screaming girls down Lancaster Road to All Saints Road, where he goes into a secondhand clothes shop and comes out in beatnik disguise. After failing to chat up a beatnik girl, he's eyed up by a policeman as he walks by Wragg's cafe towards Tavistock Road. The Apollo in its militant reggae days can be seen in the 1976 film 'The Squeeze', when it's visited by Stacy Keach and Freddie Starr. All Saints Road also appears in the mid 70s film 'Pressure' and hosts Hazel O'Connor's flat in 'Breaking Glass'.
'Down here on the Frontline where Jah people gather just outside the clutches of Babylon, Aswad are at home; they're local celebrities and so nearly every passer-by provides some sort of distraction. We spend an hour in the afternoon sun, watching, listening and waiting, before Drummie Zeb appears from a cluster of identikit dreads and with a slightly crooked smile asks: 'Feeling the vibe of the Frontline yet? Seen...' Lloyd Bradley of the NME meets Aswad on his All Saints Road trip in the run up to the 1982 Notting Hill Carnival. Shortly after this scene occurred the Apollo was closed down for serving more grass than beer. The Time Out pub guide directed drinkers to All Saints, to 'watch lots of unrelaxed policemen dressed as hippies selling each other Old Holborn in bank coin bags. Hello, hello, hello, wanna score, man.'
Viv Goldman reported pre-Carnival tension brewing in 83 'among problem professionals, who've been hanging around on the street corner outside the Apollo pub, closed for months, that used to be a happening centre for all forms of social exchange, till Bass Charrington closed it down after too many horra shocka stories in the Sunday Nasty. They watch the police going by in twos like the animals in the ark, at 5 minute intervals, cursing them and sucking their teeth in annoyance, vowing vengeance for this hampering of their street sales, come Carnival.' 83 turned out to be the most commercial yet, with body-popping, baseball caps, tracksuits and trainers succeeding skanking, dreadlocks and combat gear. Nevertheless, when Emotion sound-system outside the Apollo at the All Saints/Lancaster Road junction shut down on the Monday night, there was another riot. Notting Hill Housing Trust duly converted the pub into small business black co-op workshops in 1987, including the Mangrove/Metamorphosis/Apollo recording studios where All Saints the group formed.
The Wise brothers described All Saints Road at the height of its Frontline notoriety, when the street never closed without police assistance, as 'a north London casbah' featuring late night Rasta football games and street fights. In an All Saints joke of the time, when cows escaped from a truck into the street a Rasta asked one if it wanted some grass. According to the Wise brothers, the Ladbroke Grove skinheads co-existed amicably with the Rastas. In 1984 the NME found Neville Staple of the Specials and Funboy Three with the reggae toasters Clint Eastwood and General Saint 'in the basement of a cramped All Saints Road hangout', where 'the youth of Ladbroke Grove are relaxing, playing table-football.' Billy Ocean of 'When The Going Gets Tough' fame was also on the frontline reggae scene, which then revolved around the Upfront record shop and the former Irish club Johnny Cleggan's.
Denise Watson's 'Notting Hill Girl' book recounts life on the line in the 80s; a 'horror trip into the violent yardie gangster underworld, the darker side of Notting Hill Gate, kidnapping, murder, robberies.' The story goes from the halcyon days of the alternative herb market Rasta Heaven W11 – featuring Bibs' and Philsen's cafes, the rankin' taxi office, Roger's shebeen and the Hole gambling den – through yardie crack war zone to gentrified Notting Hell. After the 87 riot All Saints Road was subject to a £1 million 'designer policing' makeover. Elisabeth Grice reported in the Times, somewhat prematurely, that the street's crime problems had been 'designed out' with bulkhead lights, electronic shutters and laminated glass replacing the 'dingy recesses' and grilles 'symbolic of the street's fortress mentality.' The deputy assistant Met commissioner Paul Condon said, "We would not claim to have eradicated drugs and crime but we have neutralised a very dangerous area."
As police raided the Mangrove again in 88, Big Audio Dynamite came up with 'The Battle Of All Saints Road' 'cockney and western' ballad, and Transvision Vamp got the 'W11 Blues'. Wendy James recounts: 'walking down the line, heading for the Grove to meet some friends of mine… left out of All Saints across Portobello Road, underneath the Westway and into Ladbroke Grove.' In literature, Martin Amis's late 80s books 'God's Dice' and 'London Fields' feature All Saints scenes. Into the 90s Sinead O'Connor and Mick Jagger appeared upstairs at the Pelican pub on the corner of Tavistock Road. At 19 All Saints Road, on the northwest corner of Lancaster Road, Aki Nawaz orchestrated Fun-Da-Mental's punk-bhangra-rap fusion, as his Nation label encompassed Cornershop, Asian Dub Foundation and Transglobal Underground. Aky was the drummer of the positive-punk group Southern Death Cult who became the Cult. Number 19 had previously hosted the offices of Siouxsie and the Banshees' management company and the Sisters of Mercy manager Nick Jones's Karbon label featuring World Domination Enterprises.
The All Saints girl group began in 1993 when Shaznay Lewis met Mel Blatt in Metamorphosis studios at 18 All Saints Road (formerly the Apollo pub and the Mangrove studios, now the Apollo studios); which was also frequented by Don-e, the Acid Jazz Young Disciples, and Ben Volpelierre-Pierrot of Curiosity Killed The Cat. Ron Tom, the studios manager and Tabernacle promoter, took tapes of Shaznay, Mel and Simone Rainford to ZTT at Sarm West studios on Basing Street. ZTT signed the girls as a group and they named themselves in honour of the street where they met. Shaznay recalled living off fritters at Bibs café, where Mel had a tab. The Ripe Tomato restaurant at number 7, on the corner of St Luke's Mews, was founded at the same time by Ethel Coley, another star of the musical 'Hair'.
In 1994 All Saints Road was twinned with Vienda Street in Soweto at the Nelson Mandela election victory street party, and called 'A Road to Nowhere' in a Kensington News crack report. The Pelican pub at number 45 became a murder scene when Hungarian Frank Lazar shot dead a fellow drinker for no apparent reason. On the sleeve of the first All Saints single 'Silver Shadow' in 95, Simone Rainford, Shaznay Lewis and Mel Blatt were pictured on All Saints Road. But after two unsuccessful singles, Simone left and All Saints were dropped by ZTT. Shaznay and Mel then joined forces with the Appleton sisters, Nicole and Natalie, to cut a new demo including 'I Know Where It's At' and 'Never Ever'.
At the time of the last Wild West 11 shoot out on All Saints and the killing of Russell Christie (Linford Christie's brother) in the vicinity in 96, CCTV was introduced, the police launched a crackhouse crackdown and the Mangrove Trust had a crack outreach initiative. Wilf Walker put on the first All Saints Road Community Street Party, and Will Self wrote an All Saints drugs/restaurant crossover review in the Observer of the Sugar Club at number 33, the basement of which hosted the last blues club. As All Saints' 'I Know Where It's At' single was released in 97, they were described as 'hip-hop-lite' streetwise rude girls. By then the road had lost its street cred and become a 'boutiques and restaurants haven for style conscious young professionals.'
1998, the year of All Saints began with the new group's second single 'Never Ever' topping the chart and winning two Brit awards. As they had three consecutive number ones, the girls maintained the road's tabloid notoriety. In 2000 Madonna was famously turned away from the Sugar Club restaurant at 33, but had more amicable dealings with the Portobello Music Shop at number 13, who put her on to Bob Tyder for guitar lessons. Paula Yates, 'The Tube' presenter ex of Bob Geldof and Michael Hutchence, died of drugs misadventure in St Luke's Mews; on the 30th anniversary of the death of Jimi Hendrix on Ladbroke Grove.
In 2003 Amy Winehouse appeared on All Saints on the cover of the Carnival Time Out guide, looking virtually unrecognisable in Carnival mode. Like Madonna before her, Amy was impressed with the Portobello Music Shop. The following year, as the All Saints group were resurrected for their third album 'Studio One', the Time Out Carnival issue featured the new r'n'b/hip-hop stars Estelle and Shystie outside the Apollo studios (where All Saints formed). All Saints Road appeared in the yet to be released film 'Hippie Hippie Shake', shot in 2007, as the swinging 60s King's Road with the Apollo studios appearing as the Chelsea Potter.
The street acquired a Rolling Stones link in 2009 when the Jade Jagger boutique opened at number 43, with a Stones-style lips sign, next to her local the Pelican. The All Saints fashion company, who previously clashed with the All Saints group over their tour merchandising, caused a Portobello market trader revolt with their acquisition of the antiques arcade on the corner of Westbourne Grove. In 2012 the Apollo studios hosted the punk film director Julien Temple and the local glam punk revival group Pink Cigar featuring Rik Mayall's son Sid. The street has also hosted Tom Parker-Bowles. Eliza Doolittle was in People's Sound record shop in her 2013 'Big When I Was Little' video, and the Book & Kitchen shop opened at number 31. In 2014 the Pelican pub became the Red Lemon bar.
Jade Jagger’s shop was the first commercial property of Notting Hill Housing Trust, whose offices were next door from the late 60s to the end of the 20th century. All Saints House, across the road, was opened by Princess Margaret in 1969 and remains Notting Hill Housing short-life co-op flats to this day. Amy Garvey House sheltered housing on the corner of McGregor Road is named after the first wife of Marcus Garvey, Amy Ashwood Garvey, who established the first Afro-Caribbean centre at 1 Bassett Road on Ladbroke Grove in the 50s. After the 1958 race riots and the 59 killing of Kelso Cochrane, she headed black community committees with Claudia Jones, who founded the London Caribbean Carnival in Euston.