Policemen and revellers at the Notting Hill Carnival, 1990s

This photograph by Sydney Orleans Harding, records a convivial moment during the Notting Hill Carnival in the 1990s.

London’s first Caribbean carnival took place in 1959. It was organised in response to violent racist attacks that had taken place in various parts of Britain in 1958, including Notting Hill in London. Claudia Jones, a political activist, came up with the idea of organising a carnival as a response to racism. The first London carnival was held in St Pancras Town Hall and then in other venues throughout the early 1960s. The first Notting Hill Carnival took place in 1965.

In 1976 the carnival celebrations were stopped because of violent race riots. For a number of years many people associated the carnival with conflict between Afro-Caribbean youth and White British youth, and between African Caribbean youth and the police. But in 2002, carnival took pride of place at the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. Today, the Notting Hill Carnival attracts thousands of people every year, and is now the largest street party in Europe.

© Sydney Orleans Harding / Courtesy of the Museum of London

Accession reference: Museum of London, IN5545