Kelso Cochrane

Learn about the death of Kelso Cochrane and how it inspired Notting Hill Carnival

By Notting Hill Carnival

Kelso Cochrane by UnknownNotting Hill Carnival

The Death of Kelso Cochrane

Kelso Cochrane was a 32 year old, Antiguan born carpenter, and aspiring lawyer, living in Notting Hill at a time when racial tensions were high. He died after a racially motivated attack on Southam Street,  Notting Hill on May 17th 1959. 

As he was walking along Southam Street (now the Edenham estate, including the Trellick Tower), a gang of white youths attacked and stabbed him with a stiletto knife outside of the Earl of Warwick pub on Golborne Road. Arrests were made but both suspects were released hours later. Mr Cochrane's murderers were never caught and the police played the motive down as a robbery and general hooliganism. This reverberated through North Kensington’s Caribbean community and Britain at large. 

Mangrove 9Notting Hill Carnival

By August of 1958, unable to take the abuse anymore, the black community began to fight back with the ensuing violence lasting until September - this was known as the Notting Hill Riots.

Kelso Cochrane by UnknownNotting Hill Carnival

This hostility and violence toward the Caribbean community was the backdrop to Mr Cochrane's murder and the subsequent signs of a changing tide in the months and years to come. 

Kelso’s murder had a huge impact on race relations. Reportedly, there were over 1,200 attendees at his funeral. Many of whom came to demonstrate solidarity and a show of defiance against racism locally.

Elimu (2013)Notting Hill Carnival

Much activity to ease racial tension within the Notting Hill area preceded Cochrane's murder, leading to a children's street fayre organised my local resident and community activist, Rhaune Laslett.

Rhaune Laslett by UnknownNotting Hill Carnival

Rhaune Laslett. Laslett is reported to have said of her community and her event "We felt that although West Indians, Africans, Irish and many others nationalities all live in a very congested area, there is very little communication between us. If we can infect them with a desire to participate, then this can only have good results." 

The Last Dance (2020) by Misan HarrimanWhat We Seee

It was this small community children’s street fayre back in the mid 60s that would morph into what we now know as Notting Hill Carnival. 

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