Colville Community Forum
Colville Terrace 1900s. In 1963, the year of the Profumo affair and Rachman slum housing revelations, the Colville film 'West Eleven' was adapted by Michael Winner from 'The Furnished Room' novel by the long-standing Portobello market trader Laura del Rio. The classic North Kensington kitchen-sink melodrama is partly set on Colville Terrace on the south side of Powis Square. Alfred Lynch stars as the archetypal local anti-hero ‘Joe Beckett', who is offered £10,000 to commit a murder. In the opening sequence he walks through Powis Square to his bed-sit on Colville Terrace, passing the future location of Mick Jagger's house in 'Performance'.
A young David Hemmings appears as a local hooligan in Powis Square and Diana Dors as a beat girl. Halliwell called it a ‘dingy but not very convincing ‘realist' melodrama with jazzy style which induces weariness.' The 'West Eleven' theme is by the jazz clarinetist Acker Bilk and also features the jazz/skiffle trumpeter Ken Collyer. Michael Winner's grandfather had a tailor's shop at 167/9 Portobello Road, round the corner of Colville Terrace next to the Star bar.
Colville Terrace began the 20th century well-to-do but some time before World War 2 the houses became multi-occupied. The street suffered some bomb damage in the Blitz and hosted the local communists' headquarters. In the late 50s numbers 2, 9, 10, 19, 22 and 24 were Rachman houses occupied by West Indian immigrants and prostitutes, including Majbritt Morrison who wrote the 'Jungle West 11' book. In the 1958 riots they became targets for the fascist-influenced local mob. In 1960 the basement of number 24 was put under police surveillance and duly established to be a brothel. Michael de Freitas, who was living on the top floor, was arrested but the police couldn't prove he was the landlord.
Colville Terrace also hosted several West Indian blues clubs including Sheriff's gym and the Barbadian La Paloma. In the early 70s number 42, at the east end of Powis Square, became renowned as the gay hippy commune, which was evicted and re-housed by Notting Hill Housing Trust. The Colville Nursery Pat McDonald gates are dedicated to the People's Association community activist play worker, who was murdered by her husband.
The street is associated with several Michaels; as well as de Freitas/X/Abdul Malik, the Rachman associate Black Power leader, there's Horovitz, the ongoing local beat poet; Moorcock, the sci-fantasy author Hawkwind member, and the film director Winner. The next most renowned residents after Michael X are Horovitz and Moorcock. The hippy doctor Sam Hutt-turned-alternative country and western singer Hank Wangford is another. In 'Performance' in 1968 James Fox, as the gangster Chas, arrives on Colville Terrace on the west corner of Powis Square. In 1976 Marvin Gaye was photographed at the same place. The wall between Colville Road and Powis Square featured ‘Rachman was right' graffiti. In 2007 the junction with Portobello Road was transformed back to the 60s for a scene in 'Hippie Hippie Shake', the yet to be released film of the memoirs of the Oz magazine editor Richard Neville.
Colville Gardens 1900s. The Notting Hill slum king Peter Rachman was dead, but as the Kensington News put it, 'now smaller property kings have mushroomed up, this evil man's incredibly complex slum empire continues, under the guidance of his minions, and this is in 1963, when men are being shot into space.'
After the landlord of 1-9 Colville Gardens, Henry Bowen-Davies, was alleged to have used Alsatian dogs, tinkers and prostitutes 'to dislodge' sitting tenants, Davies Investments Limited proceeded to sub-divide flats and re-let them at the same rent as the originals. The Notting Hill People's Association was formed in 1967, when it emerged that the property company had been declared bankrupt, to force 'the need for non-profit ownership of 1-9 Colville Gardens into the consciousness of the Conservative Council.'