Black history trail 1


Location 1: Greensleeves Records

Shepherd’s Bush station

The former site of Greensleeves records is now occupied by Shepherds Bush tube station.

Opened in 1977, Greensleeves was a number one label for Caribbean and Caribbean influenced black British music. Barrington Levy, Dennis Brown, Freddie McGregor and Gregory Isaacs had records with the Greensleeves label.

There was also a shop located at 44 Uxbridge Road and if you were a fan, you would have been sure to have bought records at the legendary Greensleeves shop.

Location 2: Shepherd’s Bush Empire

Shepherd’s Bush  Green, London, W12 8TT

Shepherds Bush Empire, now known as the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire.

Built in 1903, it was originally used as a music hall then in later years the BBC used it as their television theatre. It has operated as a music venue since 1994 and many black artists have performed here including Shirley Bassey, Prince, Public Enemy, Soul II Soul and Seal. 

It is a Grade II listed venue.

Location 3: Shepherds Bush Market

Uxbridge Road and Goldhawk Road

Opened in 1914, Shepherds Bush Market is home to a diverse range of traders selling everything from food and fabric to household goods and electronics.

In more than a century it closed only once, in 1915, due to the First World War. It reopened in 1918 when ex-soldiers from across the Empire were offered stalls to help restart their lives.

Location 4: Blue plaque: Fela Kuti

12 Stanlake Road, W12 7HP

Fela Kuti lived at this address in 1958. Fela Kuti was a Nigerian singer, multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, political activist and regarded as the founder of the influential musical style ‘Afrobeat’.

He whilst in London in 1958 and studied at Trinity College of Music. He married his first wife, Remilekun (Remi) Taylor in 1960, and had three children. 

In 1963, he moved back to the newly independent Federation of Nigeria and attempted to run for its first presidency. In 1984, he was jailed for 20 months in Nigeria for his political views.

Location 5: Blue plaque: Sri Aurobindo

49 St Stephens Avenue, W12 8JB

Aurobindo lived here as a teenager in 1884-1887. He was an Indian spiritualist poet and campaigner for Indian independence who inspired, among others, Mahatma Gandhi.

He went to St Paul’s School in Hammersmith where he became inspired by rebels such as Joan of Arc and Giuseppe Mazzini. This is what later made him join the fight for Indian independence.

Location 6: Former site of Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital - birthplace of Labi Siffre and Esther Bruce

311 Goldhawk Road, W6 0SZ

Goldhawk Road has a mix of small independent shops, cafes and restaurants and a huge number of fabric shops that the area is famous for. 

Some of the shops here are over 150 years old and businesses have been passed down through the generations. From Swedish rag rugs and Scottish tartans, to bold African prints and Indian silk shawls, shoppers can fi find imported fabrics from across the globe.

Claudius Afolabi 'Labi' Siffre was a black singer, musician and poet.  He was born on 25 June 1945 at Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital, which was then based close to this location on Goldhawk road. The hospital moved to the Hammersmith Hospital site at Du Cane Road in 2000.

Esther Bruce was born in the same hospital. From a young age, Bruce was taught by her father to take pride in her black heritage and stand up to racism. 

Bruce left school when she was 14 years old to work in domestic service but, after being exploited, she changed careers and found work as a seamstress. 

During the Second World War, Bruce worked as a cleaner in Brompton Hospital and volunteered as a fire watcher, these were people who stood on rooftops during air raids and helped put out fires caused by the bombs.

She helped to unite the community during this period and wrote to her family in Guyana to ask if food parcels could be sent over to help alleviate the effect of rationing.

Location 7: Blue plaque: Connie Mark

24 Invermead Close, W6 0HQ

Born Constance Winifred MacDonald on 21 December 1923 in Jamaica. Connie served as a medical secretary in the Auxiliary Territorial Service in WW2.

Her commanding officer put her forward for a British Empire Medal but at the time it was not granted.  She married Jamaican cricketer Stanley Goodridge in 1952.

Stanley moved to England to play cricket in Durham and Connie followed him shortly after. She became an activist for West Indians in London.

In 1980 she founded the Friends of Mary Seacole, which was later renamed the Mary Seacole Memorial Association.

She was finally awarded her BEM in 1992 and in 2001 was awarded an OBE. In 2005 she became a resident in Mary Seacole House at Invermead Place, Goldhawk Road.

She passed away in Charing Cross Hospital in 2007 and her funeral service was held at St Luke’s Church, Shepherds Bush.

In 2008 a blue plaque was added to the house in her memory.

Location 8: The Duchess

320 Goldhawk Road, W6 OXF

This is a spacious pub and restaurant where you can have lunch and has a good selection of food and drinks.

There are many other eateries on Goldhawk Road you can choose from that we will be featuring more as we develop this trail.

Location 9: Ravenscourt Park

Ravenscourt Gardens, Hammersmith W6 OUA

One of the borough's largest and most attractive parks, it was awarded a Green Flag Award.

Ravenscourt Park currently offers many facilities including tennis and basketball courts, a bowling green, an all-weather pitch, a walled garden, multiple play areas, and a paddling pool for children.

There are two cafes in the park. The Tea House which is close to the Paddenswick Road entrance.

W6 Cafe is located within the W6 Garden Centre on Ravenscourt Avenue near King Street.