Notting Hill mourns community activist Frank Critchlow

A BLACK horse drawn carriage travelling through streets lined with mourners marked the emotional final journey of a popular activist who sadly lost his battle with cancer.

A BLACK horse drawn carriage travelling through streets lined with mourners marked the emotional final journey of a popular activist who sadly lost his battle with cancer.

Hundreds of people packed the St. Mary of the Angels church in Moorhouse Road, North Kensington, on Monday to say their last goodbyes to a community leader who fought all his life for black equality.

Frank Critchlow, who was born in Trinidad in 1931, was a campaigner who played a central role in Notting Hill from the 1960s.

He is best known as the founder of the Mangrove restaurant in All Saints Road, a popular hangout with the black community and political radicals, it became a target of the police harassment during the 1960s and 70s.


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In 1969 these tensions boiled over and the Mangrove was raided 12 times between January 1969 and July 1970 by police who claimed the Mangrove was a drugs den, despite never uncovering any evidence.

In 1970 he was arrested for permitting dancing after 11pm. The charge prompted protests by Black Panther groups and Notting Hill which sent shock waves through the establishment.

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Critchlow and his fellow defendants were acquitted at the Old Bailey, and the judge publicly acknowledged that there was ‘evidence of racial hatred’ in the Metropolitan police in a landmark case.

But it was the Mangrove’s vibrant atmosphere which its many visitors remember best, and this party mood flooded the streets on Monday as the Mangrove steel band led the funeral procession, and mourners sang old R&B and soul songs from the 1960s.

Tributes flooded in as friends, neighbours and fellow activists remembered a man who never gave up fighting for what he believed in.

Golborne ward councillor Pat Mason said: “Frank inspired me to join the battle against the daily police brutality and racism suffered by the black community in North Kensington that lasted for decades.

“He suffered greatly at the hands of the police and the state, but he never gave up the fight for justice”.

Frank died on September 15, and is survived by his three daughters and son.

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