1966

1966
Michael de Freitas wrote in his ‘On the Black Beat’ column in The Gate newsletter of the London Free School community action group: ‘There are many approaches to this place, some by road or rail, some by moral degeneration. Today I chose the bus, boarded a number 28 outside West Hampstead station and headed for what was once my home, ‘The Grove’ as we black ones call it, ‘The Gate’ as it is commonly called by Free School people. The Grove is still one of the few places I feel safe in Babylon, no yobbos are going to attack me there and get away with it. My brothers down there know they are my brothers, unlike the other more sophisticated and pretentious black people in and around the area where I picked up this bus. I was a little bit bluesy when I started this trek but gradually my mood changed as we got closer to Westbourne Park Road. Maybe it was all those black faces I started seeing more and more of as we went along that did it, maybe it was the familiar stench of the Ghetto.’

September 19-23, 1966
Throughout the London Free School fayre week, All Saints church hall on Powis Gardens (on the site of the old peoples’ home hall, incorporating a bit of the old hall, next to the church) hosted ‘musicals’, ‘entertainments’ or ‘social nights'; including an ‘international song and dance festival’ after the pageant, Charles Dickens amateur dramatics, folk and jazz festivals featuring Alexis Korner and Jeff Nuttall, poetry, choir singing and ‘old tyme music hall’ presented by the landlord of the Harrow Road Windsor Castle. Rhaune Laslett recalled an All Saints hall happening involving Jeff Nuttall’s People Band, ‘motorbikes and very scantily dressed girls riding pillion, throwing jam covered newspapers and other paint dripping missiles at the audience.’

September 30, 1966
Following Dave Tomlin’s psychedelic ‘Fantasy workshop’ during the fayre, John Hopkins presented the first ‘Sound/Light workshop’ at All Saints hall by Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd. October 14 The second one was advertised as a ‘pop dance featuring London’s farthest out group the Pink Floyd in interstellar overdrive stoned alone astronomy domini – an astral chant and other numbers from their space-age book’, with accompanying ‘light projection slides liquid movies.’ Encouraged by the liberal ‘hippy vicar’, and promoted by Timothy Leary’s ‘turn on, tune in, drop out’ slogan, this turned into a 10 gig residency ‘at All Saints Hall, Powis Gardens, West 11, every Tuesday.’

During the 1967 ‘summer of love’, Courtney Tulloch wrote in International Times of worsening relations between the police and black community, and looked back to the ’66 Free School Fayre, incorporating the Caribbean ‘Notting Hill Carnival’ and jazz enthusiast police, as hippy heaven W11. Or, as he put it in the loved up prose of the time, ‘a prolonged love programme which ended with Carnival and continued in the form of IT.’

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