Episode 2 of 5
The writer and actor Kwame Kwei-Armah discovers how today's carnival emerged from the wasteland created by the building of a new flyover. For years the Notting Hill Carnival was a festival organised for, and by, the local community. But the construction of the M40 Westway in North Kensington destroyed homes and caused huge disruption that tore into the community spirit. As part of the Westway regeneration project, the Notting Hill Carnival was given encouragement to create something spectacular out of the rubble.
From August Bank Holiday 1973 the Notting Hill Carnival was transformed under its new director Leslie Palmer to include many of the features which are now familiar to us. It was the first year of a carnival route, stalls, full costume bands and several steelbands. It was also the era that saw the introduction of sound systems playing Jamaican reggae. For the first time Carnival reached out beyond the Trinidadian expatriate community and began to accommodate a diverse youth culture from across London.
Producer: Pam Fraser Solomon
A Culture Wise Production for BBC Radio 4.