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Sixty-one years since Notting Hill murder of Kelso Cochrane

Yesterday marked the sixty-one year anniversary of Kelso Cochrane, who was brutally murdered in a racist attack in the early hours of May 17, 1959.

Kelso Cochrane was a 32-year-old carpenter from Antigua and living in west London where he was murdered by a gang of white youths.

After receiving treatment at Paddington Hospital for a finger injury. Mr Cochrane was walking along Southam Street, when a gang of white youths attacked and stabbed him outside of the Earl of Warwick pub on Golborne Road.

Arrests were made but both suspects were released hours later. Kelso Cochrane's murderers were never caught, police denied it was a racist killing and as a result the case was never solved.

This horrific crime was a year after the Notting Hill race riots, his death outraged the community.

Isis Amlak, a local activist and former chair of the North Kensington Law Centre, said Mr Cochrane's murder "changed the dynamic" between the Caribbean and white working class communities of North Kensington.

Caribbeans like Mr Cochrane were faced with hostility and racism when arriving to the UK. Racial tension was high in Notting Hill, as Caribbeans experienced fascist groups from the area's white working class which then led to racial hate.

On June 6,1959, hundreds of both black and white people gathered at Cochrane's funeral to stand in union against racial hate crime.

Mark Olden, a former journalist and author of the book Murder in Notting Hill attended the memorial service.

Mr Olden said, "Kelso's funeral was attended by over 1,000 people lining Ladbroke Grove, people were disgusted by the incident. It was a moment where black people were saying we’re here to stay."

The call for unity in Notting Hill is what inspired the cultural celebration of Notting Hill carnival. Organised by community activist Rhaune Laslett in 1966, race riots and Kelso Cochrane's murder were the foundation of the festival.

In 2009, Kelso Cochrane was honoured with a blue plaque on Golborne Road opposite where he was murdered.

Despite Notting Hill carnival 2020 being cancelled, it is important we remember Kelso Cochrane, the people we've lost to the Notting Hill riots and to keep fighting against racism in Britain.

Source: My London

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