‘The Mangrove Restaurant in All Saints Road was raided yet again this weekend and the police succeeded in charging a number of people with possession of cannabis. Since the Mangrove opened a year ago it has become as well known to the police as to the black community, but another sort of pressure is being brought against them now. A petition is going around asking to have the place closed.’ Mangrove Busted People’s News no 23 June 30 1969
By the end of the 60s Frank Crichlow’s Mangrove restaurant on All Saints Road was on its way to becoming the single most recurring cause for legal advice on drug related matters of the next couple of decades. In 1968 the Hustler black underground paper, edited by Courtney Tulloch, contained the first ‘Turn on West Indian and English feasts’ advert for the new venture of El Rio Frank Crichlow, the Mangrove restaurant at 8 All Saints Road, the black community centre of the 70s and 80s. In ‘Days in the Life’ Courtney Tulloch recalls the move from the Rio at 127 Westbourne Park Road (after he found the new premises in the Kensington Post) as the turning point from the 50s hustling scene to 60s Black Power activism. If anything, this made the new venue of more interest to the police. As the Mangrove became the hippest Notting Hill restaurant of them all, ‘turn on West Indian and English feasts’ were served to Sammy Davis Junior, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan, Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Four Tops, CLR James, Vanessa Redgrave and the original cast of The Avengers. Frank Crichlow reminisced in the Kensington Source magazine: “People would be waiting outside in cars until tables were free. The place was out of this world – in just a couple of months it was pop-u-lar… The place would be packed and we’d see the police peeping through the windows…”
As the Westway flyover opened to traffic on August 9 1970 there was a re-housing protest on the hard shoulder, and on the same day there was a protest march under the flyover. In the late 60s and early 70s there seems to have been a demo in Notting Hill virtually every other day, while All Saints hall hosted at least one community action meeting a night. The march was protesting about police persecution of the Mangrove Caribbean restaurant on All Saints Road, outside of each of the 3 local police stations; the Notting Hill station on Ladbroke Road, Sirdar Road in Notting Dale, and the plan was to finish at Harrow Road. But, as the march went up Great Western Road, under the newly opened Westway, police attempts to divert it away from the Harrow Road station resulted in a mini-riot on Portnall Road, the arrest of 17 demonstrators, and the infamous trial of the Mangrove 9 – including the restaurant owner Frank Crichlow and the Black Power activist-future TV personality Darcus Howe.
Michael Storey’s ‘Days in the Life’ recollection of All Saints Road, when he was working with the film-maker Horace Ove, included Michael X coming round at the height of his notoriety, boasting that “with 6 good guys” he could start a Black Power revolution: “Stokeley Carmichael came over to meet him… There were all these heavy black dudes everywhere… They were glamorous. They had something that I felt I hadn’t; it was going into another world. We used to go to each other’s houses and dance and play music all afternoon. Then I lived in St Luke’s Mews. The Mangrove was round the corner and I slipped into this whole lifestyle of not really doing anything. You had shebeens, the right music, open houses… Horace told me when I came with my pink cheeks that I wouldn’t last a year; I lasted less… I was busted outside the Mangrove, I got burgled by a junkie who I had staying in the flat, and then I left.”
‘The police case arising out of the Mangrove demonstration was shown up for what it was at Marylebone Court this week. The magistrate threw out charges of incitement to riot and only after evidence had shown that the fighting was spontaneous. The prosecution attempted to say that banners with ‘Kill the Pigs’ on them were evidence of an incitement to riot (this seemed to be the only evidence) but the magistrate said this could not be taken literally. The prosecution had to agree that if the slogans had been ‘Fuck the Pigs’ or ‘Bugger the Pigs’ that would not have been taken literally so the same should apply in this case. 6 were still sent to the Old Bailey on charges of making an affray but at least the police fabrication of incitement and riot were rejected. A bad day for the pigs.’ Charges Quashed People’s News vol 3 no 3 January 18 1971
‘The trial of the Mangrove 9 began at the Old Bailey on October 6 in a way that makes it obvious to the most naïve observer the repressive role of the courts. The clerk of the court, upheld by the judge on the first day, has refused to allow relatives of defendants to sit in the well of the court. They are only allowed in by personal ticket to the public gallery. Friends have queued for hours outside to get a seat although there have been empty places inside. No reason has been given for these new restrictions. Obviously they do not even want justice to be seen to be done. Defendants and supporters have good reason to doubt whether it will be done. The first 3 days were spent contesting the all-white jury. There were not even 12 black people on the list of 150 jurors.
‘The charges of riot, affray and assaulting police arise out of a demonstration against police harassment of the black community on August 9 last year. Of the 17 people arrested during the conflict between police and marchers in Portnall Road, 10 were fined and 7 acquitted. But 2 months later new charges of incitement were brought against Frank Crichlow of the Mangrove restaurant (where the march began from), Roddy Kentish and Rhodan Gordon. When new incitement charges were also heard against Althea Lecointe, Barbara Beese and Radford Houve the prosecution could bring no evidence. The next day they substituted a riot charge. This charge was rejected by the magistrate but has been re-imposed by the Director of Public Prosecutions when the defendants were committed to the Old Bailey on the charge of affray. The other defendants are Rupert Boyce, Anthony Innis and Godrey Millett. The trial will take about 6 weeks and what happens and how it happens is important to all of us who are struggling against the increasing repressing in this area and throughout the country. A background paper on the trial and very good weekly court reports can be got from the Information Centre, 301 Portobello Road W10 969 4123.’ Closed Trial People’s News vol 3 no 36 October 11 1971
‘There is to be a benefit concert for the Mangrove 9 on Wednesday November 17 from 8-12 at Imperial College Union, Prince Consort Road. Tickets cost 50p and can be got from 120 Talbot Road or 17a Rendle Street. Music by Third World War, Ginger Johnson, Ojah and the People Band. “This place is a haunt of criminals, prostitutes, ponces and the like” Pulley on the Mangrove People’s News vol 5 no 17 May 8 1973 The notorious PC Pulley is back in Notting Hill and the management committee of the Mangrove in All Saints Road has put out the following statement. ‘PC Pulley has returned to Notting Hill. Within days we have had complaints from 4 different sources about the officer’s behaviour. In response, we have written an open letter to the Home Secretary and the Commissioner of Police stating our demand – that PC Pulley be immediately removed from the area. This demand is not new. In fact Pulley was removed from the area following the black community’s confrontation with the local police on August 9 1970. At the trial which followed, the Mangrove trial, Pulley appeared as a major prosecution witness. His evidence was challenged on the basis that he was dishonest, that he was a liar. The jury acquitted 5 defendants and intimated in discussions following the trial that Pulley’s evidence was not believed. It has since been stated that he was transferred to Scotland Yard. We are not aware on what basis he has returned to the area, neither do we care. We simply want him out.’ The final sentence of their letter sums up the position. ‘We demand his immediate removal from the area. The responsibility for whatever happens as a consequence of his prowling around the area now rests squarely on your shoulders. You know the facts, the responsibility is yours, you ignore it at your peril.’ Mangrove Benefit People’s News vol 3 no 41 November 8 1971
1971 ended with 2 Notting Hill trials at the Old Bailey, the Mangrove in Court 1 and the first of the Angry Brigade in Court 2. In the latter Jake Prescott was found guilty of conspiracy to cause explosions and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment; but the Mangrove 9 were acquitted of conspiracy to cause riot and affray. As reported in the Mangrove trial special International Times 120, ‘in the pub afterwards, the jurors explained why they went against Judge Clarke’s biased conduct of the trial and told defendants they were astonished at police methods and thought they often lied. The trial also revealed the pigs’ prejudice against and their over-reaction to the demo.’ In the constabulary’s football analogy the verdict was seen as Mangrove 1 Police 0. Even though the charges were thrown out of court, the notorious PC Pulley remained adamant that 8 All Saints Road was a legitimate object of frequent police investigation, as it was “a haunt of criminals, prostitutes and the like.” The North Kensington Labour MP Bruce Douglas-Mann said in the trial that the mere presence of Pulley constituted “a provocation to the black population.” Pulley’s boss Gilbert Kelland cited him in ‘Crime in London’ as ‘one of the most outstanding operational officers the force has ever known.’ David May of Friends and the Kensington News concurred, calling him “a superstar” as he looked back on a time of better race relations (from the 80s), when Pulley’s line was, “I am in no way racist, but these blacks are breaking the law with Marijuana.”
In Miles’s radical restaurant review in ‘Days in the Life’, the IT and Indica founder visited the Mangrove with the cover artwork for Teamwork, the magazine of the West Indian Standing Conference: “First of all there was a lot of rustling and ‘What is this white boy doing in here?’ sort of thing. Then they all had a lot of design theories, gave it a lot of criticism. The Mangrove used to be insane; the smell of dope coming out of the kitchen was enough to wipe you out just sitting at a table.” Jenneba Sie Jalloh evokes the restaurant’s distinctive vibe in her ‘All Saints and Sinners’ black history book with: ‘Mangrove, smell of hashish, swirling clouds of ashen smoke, weave in, around, away, palms like giant fingers, sounds of laughing, belly deep and penetrating, wise words and indiscretions, deep canary yellows, matted reds and browns, a tropical tapestry of colour, light and sounds.’ In ‘Days in the Life’ Courtney Tulloch of IT and Hustler cites the Mangrove as the spiritual home of the Carnival: “That was a good example of using the skills, abilities and crafts of all those people who were condemned as pimps and so on… It was those same people, the ones who were called pimps and prostitutes and drug pushers, who created Carnival and keep creating it. We demonstrated that those people could come out of those basements and create their art and their music, which is what they’d always wanted to do. On that level the establishment did not suppress the black movement. We won; we more than won. We created a community.”
As the police inadvertently brought about Courtney Tulloch’s black British revolution, the Mangrove was transformed from a regular Caribbean café into the Black Power restaurant-community association-working men’s club-revolutionary talking shop. The Met’s reefer madness (originally directed at hippies, rather than black people), and PC Pulley’s early efforts to curtail the Notting Hill restaurant craze, began a couple of decades of Mangrove raids, busts, trials, demos, riots and general antagonism between the police and black community, which made All Saints Road the epicentre of young black London seeking legal assistance, the capital’s main reggae artery and the Carnival backstage area.