Plaques honour ‘first ladies’ of Notting Hill Carnival

The plaques will be on the corner of Tavistock Square and Portobello Road, the BBC reports.

Two commemorative plaques have been unveiled to honour the ‘first ladies’ of Notting Hill Carnival.

Claudia Jones and Rhaune Laslett-O’Brien were two of the most influential figures in establishing an annual street party celebrating Caribbean culture in west London during the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The plaques are on the corner of Tavistock Square and Portobello Road.

Notting Hill Carnival is now the largest street festival in Europe.

Claudia Jones, who was born in Trinidad in 1919, started Britain’s first Caribbean carnival in 1959.

Ms Jones organised a similar event every year until her death in 1964.

Community champion

Rhaune Laslett-O’Brien was born in 1919 and lived for most of her life in and around west London.

Notting Hill rapidly became one of London’s most diverse districts after World War II and she became a community champion, fighting for better housing and helping the poor.

Ms Laslett-O’Brien introduced a week-long Notting Hill street festival in 1965 to celebrate the different cultural backgrounds of local residents.

She continued to be involved with the organisation of the event until the early 1970s and her event is now the modern-day Notting Hill Carnival.

Among the supporters of the plaques are the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Notting Hill Carnival Limited.

Sir Merrick Cockell, leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, said: “For nearly half a century, Notting Hill Carnival has been a major event, not just for black Britons, but Britain as a whole.

“It makes complete sense to recognise the key people in its creation.”

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One thought on “Plaques honour ‘first ladies’ of Notting Hill Carnival

  1. August 24, 1958 there was event in which Black youth were assaulted by Whites in Sheperds Bush and Notting Hill. August 29 1958 Violence broke out following a dispute between Raymond and Majritt Morrisom, near Latimer Road Tube Station. A Crowd went on a Nigger Hunt. Later on, after Antiguan carpenter Kelso Cochrane was killed (by Teddy Boys) in London, Kensal New Town, no one was brought to justice. Claudio Jones introduced an indoor Carnival at S Pancras Town Hall on January 30, 1959, with an outdoor procession around Powis Square in Ladbroke Grove, also being organised. The idea was to build upon the unity of the people that manifested in response to the attacks. Although Jones passed in December 1964, the first annual Carnival was started when, in August 1965, Rhaune Laslett-O’Brien organised a week long cultural event: the Notting Hill Fayre. Among the musicians, Russell Henderson suggested that they leave the square and take to the streets, and “he left the playground with pan around neck, and fellow musicians in tow, heading off on a walk towards Holland Park and back, becoming like a musical pied piper in the process. That historic walk set in place a parade which would become the foundations of what would soon be known as the Notting Hill Carnival.” Although this new pattern grew every year, “it was not until the arrival of local teacher and visionary Leslie Palmer as Director of Notting Hill Carnival in 1973, that the template for the modern Notting Hill Carnival was born.”

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