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The origins of the Notting Hill Carnival?

Tuesday 23 August 2011, 17:45

Paul Murphy Paul Murphy Senior Producer, A&Mi

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Lord Kitchener

Calypsonian Lord Kitchener on the BBC TV programme Caribbean Carnival, 1951

In the opening episode of Stories from Notting Hill, Kwame Kwei-Armah pinpoints the West Indies cricket team's victory over England at Lord's in 1950 as a seminal event in the Notting Hill Carnival's origins even though it pre-dates it by some years. This memorable win, the first time the West Indian team had beaten England on their home turf, led to an impromptu victory march by the West Indian supporters around the ground and along the street from Lord's down to Piccadilly Circus led by calypsonians Lord Kitchener and Lord Beginner.

In the programme Alexander D Great, UK Calypso Monarch explains further:

"That procession stated or declared to the British public how Caribbeans celebrated - with joy and with laughter and with jumping and dancing - an event like this, and the carnival is also representative of the same thing. And maybe this was the first time that the British public saw the Caribbean spirit in Britain in the open air."

You can find out more about the early days of the Notting Hill Carnival in the first episode of the series. It's available for the next six days.

Paul Murphy is the Editor of the Radio 4 blog

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