23 MAY 2008


1 Portobello Carnival Film Festival 2008
2 Lord Holland’s Slavery to Work Scheme
3 The Notting Dale Gypsies
4 Portobello Busker Parades
5 1966 London Free School Michaelmas Fayre
6 1968 Interzone International Times Fair
7 1977 Two Sevens Clash Punky Reggae Party
8 1983/4 Aswad Live And Direct Carnival
9 1995 Hugh Grant Mas and Mayhem

1983/4 Aswad Live And Direct Carnival

Viv Goldman reported pre-Carnival tension brewing on All Saints Road in 1983 ‘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.’
1983 turned out to be the most commercial yet, with body-popping, baseball caps, tracksuits and trainers succeeding skanking, dreadlocks and combat gear, and ‘police this year picked for their wimpish manner, with beards whenever possible.’ Nevertheless, when Emotion sound-system outside the Apollo at the All Saints/Lancaster junction shut down on the Monday night, there was another riot.
As rap first challenged reggae’s Carnival dominance, in her NME review Viv Goldman compared Ladbroke Grove and Acklam Road with ‘Brooklyn and the Bronx, home of rap’, noting that ‘Intergalactic Sound under the Westway by the footbridge over the railway track felt like New York’s Paradise Garage.’ At this point though reggae still held sway: ‘All down Acklam Road, Jah Love Sound and Shaka reverberated the Westway with roots, amidst stalls bedecked with icons of Marcus G and Selassie I.’ In ’83 Aswad were recorded ‘Live And Direct’ in Meanwhile Gardens alongside the canal at the ‘Notting Hill Gate Carnival’, and Rip Rig & Panic played their last gig on Portobello Green filmed by JB.
The 1984 Carnival was described in the NME’s ‘What has Red Stripes and 600,000 legs?’ review as the best ever and the new Lord Mayor’s Show. After watching Aswad ‘playing to a bruisingly confined Meanwhile Gardens’, and judging People’s Sound on Oxford Gardens the best sound-system, Danny Kelly ended his report, referring to a Nike billboard featuring the cricketer Viv Richards, with ‘All is well in Viv’s kingdom.’ With the police otherwise engaged elsewhere with the miners’ strike, ’84 was a rare trouble-free year.
As the Carnival expanded again in the mid 80s to 4 stages; at Portobello Green, Meanwhile Gardens, Powis Square (‘Paris Square’ in NME), and the West London (Linford Christie) Stadium on Wormwood Scrubs; outbreaks of rioting at closedown continued to be a regular feature. In Once Upon A Time There Was A Place Called Notting Hill Gate, the Wise brothers considered ‘the Trinidadian costume-steel band merry go round – despised by the young blacks in the mid 70s,’ to be little more than a job creation scheme and predicted the inevitable commercialisation: ‘In some ways the organisers would like Carnival to be more like American festivals, where for instance Schiltz Beer sponsors a country and western jamboree in Tennessee.’

1987 Sammy and Rosie Get Laid Carnival Riot
In 1987, as there was another Carnival riot, ‘while London burns’ Sammy and Rosie Get Laid with an obligatory riot scene and hippies abseiling from the Westway. The Stephen Frears directed follow up to My Beautiful Laundrette, state of the nation address by Hanif Kureishi focused around an anarcho-hippy travellers’ encampment by the Westbourne Park curve of the Westway. The site is now occupied by Westbourne Studios and the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre.
The summer of ’87 saw the police ‘swamp’ All Saints Road with another series of raids on the Mangrove, as part of the inner-city crime crackdown Operation Trident. On the first day of the ’87 Carnival a stallholder was stabbed to death. On the Monday the steaming attacks escalated, and at closedown rioting broke out in the traditional flashpoint areas; under the Westway on Ladbroke Grove, at the junction of Portobello and Acklam Road, and on All Saints Road at the Lancaster and Westbourne Park junctions. From there the disturbances spread out west and east to the Lancaster West and Brunel estates. The Wise brothers gleefully recorded street fighting on Elgin Crescent ‘in the very heart of freshly conquered yuppie territory’, and Kensington Park Road ‘where Sting has his business centre.’
The Sun headline, ‘Riot Yobs Slash Girl Cops – Horror at the Carnival’, was accompanied by a picture of a black policeman confronting a Rasta, as ‘helicopters with searchlights hovered overhead, following the marauding gangs as they tried to dodge police cordons.’ After the ’87 riot, All Saints Road was subject to a £1 million ‘designer policing’ makeover. To the Wise brothers, ‘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.’
In 1988, there were more calls in the press to ‘Stop the Carnival’ following a steaming riot in Shepherd’s Bush after a pre-Carnival reggae gig on Wormwood Scrubs. In the late 80s, the bay under the Westway by the Acklam Road footbridge known as ‘the Cage’ hosted Mastermind v Rap Attack sound-system clashes featuring Chaka Khan, Lisa Lisa, Norman Jay and Tim Westwood. Miss Dynamite has recalled dragging Rasta relatives away from dub sound-systems to “Westwood at the flyover.”

1989 Last Carnival Riot
At the ’89 Carnival Arts Committee general meeting, an even more moderate Carnival committee was formed and the local barrister Claire Holder was elected chair. In the last Mangrove trial, Frank Crichlow was cleared of trumped up drugs charges, the police raided the Mangrove some more, causing further clashes outside, and 1989 saw the last Carnival riot on All Saints Road.
As the area was lit by crane-mounted floodlights and helicopter searchlights, 400 arrests were made in the clean up operation. According to the Standard report, ‘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.’
Private Eye reported that ‘the world’s largest police festival passed off without serious incident last night. Even though the weather was overcast, it did not dampen the spirits of the quarter of a million Metropolitan policemen who turned out in their traditional fancy dress of tin hats and riot gear. As helicopters roared overhead, the ‘boys in blue’ danced with each other in the streets until the early hours, watched only by a ‘token force’ of Rastafarians.’

1990-2 Soul II Soul to Don-e Carnivals
Appearing on Portobello Green at the first Carnival of the 90s were Soul II Soul, Aswad, Jalal of the Last Poets, Misty in Roots and Burning Spear. In ’91 there was Screaming Target, Don Letts’ post-Big Audio Dynamite outfit that became Dreadzone, along with Horace Andy, Freddie McGregor and Gwen Guthrie. Time Out ‘Get into the Grove’ with the ’92 Carnival king, the new soul sensation Don-e, touring the former riot zone bounded by Westbourne Park Road, Ladbroke Grove, the Westway and All Saints Road.

1993 Ragga Carnival
As All Saints the group were forming, another Carnival riot was predicted after a series of ragga riots at Hammersmith Palais, but 1993 had the lowest arrest figures ever. Although ragga was considered reggae’s more violent younger cousin, the only culture clash it caused on the streets was of garish lycra and customised denim.

1994 Jungle W11 Carnival
The 1994 jungle W11 Carnival, at which All Saints made their debut in Powis Square, had the first million plus attendance according to the Standard; prompting proposals for a new 4th stage in Hyde Park, to avoid a Hillsborough style crush and accommodate the likes of Prince and Michael Jackson. All Saints Road was twinned with Vienda Street in Soweto at the Nelson Mandela election victory street party.

9 1995 Hugh Grant Mas and Mayhem




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