Talbot Road

Talbot Road from the east corner of Powis Square 1900s featuring the site of Fullerton's tailor's/blues and the Globe bar. ‘It was the Caribbean immigrants who took hold of Notting Hill, and ironically gave it its contemporary character, its peculiar cachet, the raffish undertow. Feel it. It’s history… For some the Grove was a testing ground in which they lived wild and free, uninhibited by laws and respectability...’ Mike Phillips, 'Notting Hill in the 60s'.

By the late 50s about 7,000 black people had settled in Notting Hill, mostly in the Colville area. In most accounts, conditions deteriorated after Rachman handed over control of houses to black sub-landlords, and things really fell apart as his former henchmen tried to wring a profit out of the deteriorating slums. With most local pubs unwelcoming, West Indian hustlers developed their own scene consisting of various types of clubs. There were after-hours drinking clubs, basement/cellar-clubs for daytime gambling, rent parties, and the most famous, blues - clubs, dances or parties, named after the Blaupunkt radio-gramophone, rather than blues music.

Blues dance music went from jazz, calypso and Jamaican rhythm’n’blues, through ska and rocksteady to dub reggae. The first is said to have been in the basement of Fullerton’s, the tailors on Talbot Road on the corner of Powis Square, where Duke Vin was the selector. Then Bajy opened a café and cellar-club next door (which must have become the Globe), and the Montparnasse was further along Talbot Road. Around the corner on Powis Square, the Rachman basement flat of Michael de Freitas hosted a residency of the jazz pianist Wilfred Woodley. Along Westbourne Park Road there was the Number 51, Fiesta and Calypso. The Jamaican tailor Clifford Fullerton, who arrived on the Windrush in 1948 and set up shop on Talbot Road in the early 50s, has unusually fond memories of the rock’n’roll years in his 'Multi-racial North Kensington' recollection: "The best times for the shop were the 50s. All the fellows wanted a handmade suit, mostly West Indians and we worked a lot for the Teddy boys too. At that time Teddy boys used to be well-dressed." The site of Fullerton's is now occupied by Raoul's restaurant. 

Michael de Freitas recalled: ‘Having the flat created a whole new scene for us… Blues dances are not very complicated to organise. We simply cleared the floor, put a table across the kitchen door to serve as a counter and stocked up with a whole load of canned beer. We charged 2 and 6 to come in and 2 and 6 for each beer – and we just didn’t have enough room to accommodate the rush.’ Blues clubs are now celebrated for transforming Notting Hill from a dreary slum into the heart of multicultural London, but at the time they were generally not appreciated. After the 1958 race riots stemmed from noise complaints about them, the clubs played an integral part in the formation of the first tenants’ associations, the Profumo affair, and the drug counter-culture. West Indian club in 'Sapphire' 1959. 

At the height of the trouble in 58, white rioters surged out of Notting Dale across Ladbroke Grove into Colville to besiege Rachman’s black ghetto, smashing windows of blues clubs, West Indian houses and cafés. Molotov cocktails were thrown as some West Indians fought back from the Calypso club, on the corner of Ledbury and Westbourne Park Road, and Totobag’s café at 9 Blenheim Crescent. In 'Jungle West 11' Majbritt Morrison wrote: 'Talbot Road was full of coloured men hanging on the street corners. I went down in a couple of clubs where vice was written over everyone's faces. A hole for prostitutes and drug sellers, full of smoke and loud-playing jukeboxes.' Larry Ford of the Fiesta One café/club on Westbourne Park Road recalled the 'Absolute Beginners' author Colin MacInnes in 'Notting Hill in the 60s': "He used to pick up he guys and all of that… a tall blonde person, wrote most of his books smoking dope in rooms with a lot of black people… It was a place for aristocrats sort of coming and slumming." Dick Pountain remembered blues dance music in the mid to late 60s as 'a mix of ska, soul and organ jazz, Jimmy Smith and so on.'

The Globe bar at 103 Talbot Road was founded in the 60s by the black actor Roy Stewart; who also ran a multi-racial gym-club round the corner at 32a Powis Square, set up before the 58 riots. The celebrated body-builder/actor appeared in the James Bond films 'Dr No' and 'Live and Let Die', the Rolling Stones’ 'One Plus One (Sympathy for the Devil)', 'Leo the Last' (on the site of Lancaster West estate) and 'Carry On' films. In its heyday the Globe after-hours bar/restaurant was famously frequented by Beatles, Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison and Bob Marley. Hendrix was reputedly last seen there the night he died in 1970. On the 50th anniversary of the race riots, Prince Buster appeared with the Trojans at Rockin’ Gaz’s Carnival sound-system outside. The studio next to the Globe was used by the prog rock group Yes for rehearsals, resulting in the building being sprayed with ‘No’ graffiti by Heathcote Williams. At various times Talbot Road has also hosted the house of Trevor Bow of Sons of Jah, visited by Bob Marley, the office of Zigzag music magazine at 118, during its punk/reggae phase, the Duke of Cornwall 90s music venue pub, now the Ledbury restaurant (besieged in the 2011 riots), Mel Blatt of All Saints and Stella McCartney.

Pius Metalman outside Zigzag music magazine office 118 Talbot Road 1981. 'This is Pius, a strange old chap who would often sit outside the old Zigzag office. He collected metal, which he would sew into his coat. The first time I encountered him I thought he wanted some change. I handed him some, he went through it, coin by coin, dismissed them as inappropriate and threw them into the street. Now an old alum key, or a hinge, or whatever and then you were talking! One day I found an old Oxo tin. Several days later he'd made a hat out of it, by attaching a small padlock to each corner, so it stayed permanently on his head. The best sight I ever saw at the old offices involved Pius. Two doors down to the right of shot was a corner shop. Their bread delivery would arrive in three plastic crates and be left outside for them to take in when they opened. Pius had got there first and was sitting on top of them, the staff staying indoors and protesting loudly, but he wouldn’t budge. He opened a couple of loaves and was feeding the birds who were flying in several circles, a few birds in each circle, around him. This went on for quite some time, and was so surreal it was beautiful.' Mick Mercer's Zigzag Hacks File.

Daley Thompson House on Talbot Road, west of the church, is named after the greatest local sport hero. The double gold medal winning decathlete was born in Notting Hill in 1958, shortly before the race riots, grew up in Colville Square off Talbot Road and attended Colville School on Lonsdale Road.

The flats were named in his honour in 1984, as he won his second gold at the Los Angeles Olympics. Daley Thompson was described as 'the greatest all-round athlete this country has ever produced.' He also played football for Mansfield and Stevenage and coached at Wimbledon and Luton.

The Rough Trade indie record shop has been at number 130, since 1983, when it moved across Portobello Road from its original location at 202 Kensington Park Road. The Talbot Road shop had their own record label Wiiija, named after their postcode, and was famously visited by Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and Courtney Love as the indie post-punk scene spawned grunge.

Claudia Jones and Pearl Prescod anti-racism march from Ladbroke Grove station 1963 by John Hopkins. The nearest thing to a Claudia Jones Notting Hill Carnival procession took place on August 31 1963, when she led an anti-racism march from Ladbroke Grove station to the US embassy in Grosvenor Square, in solidarity with the Martin Luther King "I have a dream" demonstration in Washington. Pearl Prescod to the left of Claudia Jones sang 'We Shall Overcome'. In the picture the march is heading along the old stretch of St Stephen's Gardens from Ledbury Road. Vee Davis, who lived on Talbot Road at 31 Powis Square by the Tabernacle, recalls joining it:

"Oh yes, that was Pearl Prescod, that’s when Pearl Prescod had a march from the station, from Ladbroke Grove station to the American embassy. Yes, I remember, yeah, but I had a baby. I’d just had my little boy, I think he was a few months old, so I would still be breast-feeding him, but I went in and I said to my husband there’s a march going on there, I won’t be long, I just want to go and see. So he said okay but I ended up in the American embassy, oh boy, I need to breast-feed this child but look where I am, way down in the embassy, by the park. Yeah, so we march, this was a peace march, like ‘We Shall Overcome’. 63, yes, it was the year my boy was born, 63, and it was this big march, Pearl Prescod was conducting everyone. Yeah, I remember that march, they were having problems in America with the same black and white thing, you black you stay at the back and stuff like that, and I remember Pearl organised this march to the American embassy, singing all the way from Ladbroke Grove ‘We Shall Overcome’."

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