Tavistock Crescent was where the first Notting Hill Carnival procession began on 18 September 1966.
Tavistock Crescent was developed in the late 1860s alongside the Hammersmith and City railway line from Westbourne Park station, originally as Great Western Crescent. On the 1900s Charles Booth map, the Tavistock streets are down as poverty and comfort mixed/fairly comfortable, but Silvester Mews
, between Basing Street
and All Saints Road
, is very poor dark blue.
By the mid 20th century Tavistock Crescent had gone from being respectable working class to the worst slum of the area.
On 15 May 1966 Rhaune Laslett’s London Free School playgroup at 34 Tavistock Crescent (since demolished) was visited by the world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali (in the run up to his second Henry Cooper fight). Rhaune Laslett is to Ali’s right in the picture with the kids.
This was also where the first Notting Hill Carnival procession began on 18 September 1966. Rhaune Laslett organised the Free School Fayre pageant parade around the area, featuring people dressed as Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Charles Dickens characters, the London Irish girl pipers, a New Orleans-style trad jazz marching band, Ginger Johnson’s Afro-Cuban band, Russ Henderson’s Trinidadian steelband from the Coleherne pub in Earl’s Court, and a fire engine.
Rhaune Laslett’s Neighbourhood Service at 34 Tavistock Crescent offered ’free advice for county and magistrates court proceedings, depressives and young addicts in need of help and advice as well as causes of acute distress, especially housing.’ The 1968 Notting Hill Fair/Carnival concluded at the London Free School ’shanty town’ adventure playground between Tavistock Crescent and Tavistock Road
, with an ’open air dance’ featuring the mod band the Action, Ginger Johnson, Pure Medicine and a steel band. Pete Jenner’s Blackhill Enterprises put on benefit gigs for the Neighbourhood Service at the Roundhouse by the Small Faces, Sly and the Family Stone, and David Bowie.
The Tavistock Hotel/Arms pub on the corner of Tavistock Crescent and the footbridge under the Westway
appeared in ‘The L-Shaped Room’, the Clash film ‘Hell W10’ and ‘Withnail and I’, before the site’s post-modern luxury flat conversion in 2011. After Richard E Grant and Paul McGann were chased out of the Tavistock (when it was the Frog & Firkin) in ‘Withnail and I’, the pub was named the Mother Black Cap in reality after its role in the film.
The street was partly demolished in the late 1970s.
The Clash singer Joe Strummer said in an interview with Chris Salewicz in 1978: "The other day I was walking along and I saw that all of Tavistock Crescent is gone. And they used to seem to really know how to build houses fit for human beings to live in in those days. I mean, round by Westbourne Park Road
these real egg-boxes suddenly sprung up from behind the corrugated iron, which is just brutal."
Strummer later lived at 37 Lancaster Road
, he returned to Tavistock Crescent in his ’Hell W10’ film (though he was in W11) and when he formed the new Clash group in the mid 80s. Lancaster Road
also hosted the Rasta House of Dread visited by Bob Marley, Patsy Kensit of ’Absolute Beginners’ and Dan Donovan of Big Audio Dynamite. The new Tavistock Crescent residents include the speed-rapper JC001.