Fifty years on – remembering Kelso Cochrane

Fifty years on – remembering Kelso Cochrane


Written by: Harmit Athwal

Last weekend, a series of events were held in west London to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the racially motivated murder of Kelso Cochrane.

Kelso, a 32-year-old immigrant from Antigua, was murdered on 17 May 1959 in Notting Hill by a gang of White men as he walked home from a local hospital after receiving treatment for an injury he had sustained in his work as a carpenter. His murder came a year after the 1958 Notting Hill ‘race riots’ when the Black community of Notting Hill was forced to defend itself from attacks by gangs of racist Teddy Boys. Oswald Mosley’s British Union Movement and Colin Jordan’s White Defence League were both active in the area at the time. No one has ever been convicted for the murder of Kelso Cochrane.

The family of Kelso Cochrane, local people and campaigners gathered by his graveside at Kensal Green cemetery (view the original funeral service notice for the funeral of Kelso Cochrane – from the IRR Black History Collection). After respect was paid to Kelso in speeches by the organisers of the event, Gerry Gable (Searchlight), Suresh Grover (The Monitoring Group) and Duwayne Brooks (Lib Dem Councillor), there were moving performances of poetry and song. Then those gathered marched down to Ladbroke Grove where the IRR’s film From you were Black you were out was shown at the Inn on the Green.

Later that same evening at a local community centre From you were Black you were out was shown again as was another film, Grove Roots, made by local youth about the area. And on Sunday afternoon, fifty years after Kelso Cochrane was murdered, a blue plaque was unveiled at the Golborne Bar & Restaurant, (36 Golborne Road, London W10), opposite the spot in Southam Street where he was attacked.

In a footnote, the Metropolitan police files at the National Archive relating to the death of Kelso Cochrane have not been released. Despite Freedom of Information requests, the files remain off limits as they are, apparently, covered by exemptions in the Act.

Related links

View the first page of the funeral service for Kelso Cochrane (from the IRR Black History Collection)

Struggles for Black Community DVD

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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