Beginnings of London’s Carnival


Claudia Jones, a Trinidadian human rights activist based in London, put on a BBC broadcasted indoor ‘Caribbean Carnival’ at St Pancras Town Hall back in 1959. She is widely credited with sowing the seeds for carnival in the UK by doing so.

An appetite for the indoor Caribbean carnival was fed by Trinidadian husband and wife booking agents Edric and Pearl Connor who along with many partners including The West Indian Gazette began promoting indoor events in halls dotted around 1960s London.

In 1966 the first outdoor festival took place in the streets of Notting Hill.

A local resident and Social Worker Rhaune Laslett – a Londoner of Native American and Russian descent – organised an event for local children. As an established community activist with a history of addressing and easing inter-cultural tension in the area since the violent race-riots of the 1950s, she set out to include the local West Indian residents in her event.

Rhaune invited well-known pan player Russell Henderson, who was accompanied by his pan band members Sterling Betancourt, Vernon “Fellows” Williams, Fitzroy Coleman and Ralph Cherry.