Kelso Cochrane memorial event

25Apr09

Read about Kelso's case

Read about Kelso's case

originally published: date unknown

Fifty years after the murder of Kelso Cochrane, a graveside tribute followed by a march and showing of IRR film ‘From you were black, you were out’.

On 17th May 1959, Kelso Cochrane, a 32-year-old carpenter from Antigua, was killed by a group of white youths in Notting Hill Gate. No one was ever convicted.

Shortly after midnight on the day Kelso was murdered, he was only a few hundred yards from the flat he shared with his fiancee in Notting Hill. He was returning from a visit to the local hospital when he was attacked by a gang of white youths.

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Cochrane had moved to London in 1954, where he had settled in Notting Hill and worked as a carpenter. He aimed to save sufficient money to study law. After fracturing his thumb in a work accident, he was attended at Paddington General Hospital. While walking home, he was set upon by a group of white youths and stabbed him with a stiletto knife. Three other men arrived on the scene, and the youths ran off. The three men took Cochrane to hospital, where he died. Cochrane’s funeral was attended by more than 1,200 people.

Notting Hill was at the time a stronghold for Oswald Mosley’s Union Movement and Colin Jordan’s White Defence League. The previous year, racist riots had broken out in the area.

The detective investigating the cases was initially convinced that the youth’s motive was robbery, but Cochrane’s lack of money was explained by his fiancé, as Cochrane himself had emptied his wallet that morning. Searchlight claims that the police’s public denial of any racist motive “was almost certainly a misguided attempt to ensure calm in the area.” Local Union Movement member Peter Dawson later claimed to the Sunday People that it had been a group member who was responsible for the murder. Mosley himself later held a public meeting on the spot where Cochrane had been murdered.

Following the murder, the British Government organised an investigation into race relations, chaired by Amy Ashwood Garvey.

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