The Sound of the Westway: Life Under the Flyover 1966 – 2016

16/02/2016 @ 6:00 pm – 28/02/2016 @ 6:00 pm
Free; RSVP using the Buy Tickets link

Photo history exhibition and readings to mark 50 years since the construction of the Westway began. Part of the Colville Community History Project on the politics of community action and pop culture in the 23 acres under the flyover.

  • SoundoftheWestwayExhibition 16 to 26 February with 30 photographs – many exhibited here for the first time
  • Tuesday 16 February 2016, 6 – 9 pm:  Launch event with film screening and readings
  • Readings and slideshow by Dave Hucker, Mark Jackson, Marcia Robinson, Geoffrey Roome, Dave Russell.
  • Screening of Westway documentary film by Wyn Baptiste featuring the first trust director Anthony Perry and the adventure playground founder Adam Ritchie.
  • The Colville Community History Project aims to preserve and celebrate local history through exhibitions, talks, adult education, archives, newsletters, books and films.For more: www.colvilEvent

“I saw the dream; the streets I trod, the lit straight streets shot out and met the starry streets that point to God.”  GK Chesterton, ‘The Napoleon of Notting Hill’.

The exhibition combines oral history, pop culture and psychogeography research. City Living Local Life on the Colville/Golborne wards boundary, before, during and after the flyover, featuring the London Free School adventure playground, Carnival origins, Muhammad Ali, Hawkwind, Aswad, the Clash and Acklam Hall/Subterania.

westway clown
“They were starting to build the motorway and they’d knocked down this run of houses. It was the dark side of the moon. It was the Martian wasteland. A very weird place, desolation, and we’d have happenings; huge bonfires and musicians would come and we’d take a lot of acid.”
Emily Young, in Jonathon Green’s ‘Days in the Life
“A locked shack with Free Shop spraygunned on it, and old shoes and sofas piled in heaps around it; a makeshift playground under the arches of the motorway with huge crayon faces drawn on the concrete pillars, slogans in whitewash, from Smash the Pigs to Keep Britain White.”
Jonathan Raban, ‘Soft City’
“Up and down the Westway, in and out the lights, what a great traffic system, it’s so bright. I can’t think of a better way to spend the night than speeding around underneath the yellow lights.”
The Clash, ‘London’s Burning’
“Early impressions of the trust land were of its emptiness. It was eerie walking past a boarded-up bay in the evening and seeing 30 or 40 vagrants there round a bonfire.”
Roger Matland, North Kensington Amenity Trust Director
“For punk rockers, the Westway symbolises their music – fast, loud and violent.”
Carol Clerk, review of the Sound of the Westway fanzine
“The cans and bottles glittered like fireworks in the street lights, then shone again as they bounced back off the riot shields. The thud thud thud of the impact rivalled the bass in steadiness, suddenly the street of peaceful dancers was a revolutionary frontline, and the militant style of the dreads was put in its conceptual context.’ (1979) Intergalactic Sound under the Westway by the footbridge over the railway
track felt like New York’s Paradise Garage. All down Acklam Road, Jah Love Sound and Shaka reverberated the Westway with roots, amidst stalls bedecked with icons of Marcus Garvey and Haile Selassie.” (1983)
Viv Goldman, Carnival Review

Westway History Timeline

  • 1964 Site clearance began
  • 1966 Construction began. London Free Schooladventure playground on site. Playspace Group founded
  • 1968 Motorway Development Trust founded
  • 1969 Acklam Road adventure playground
  • 1970 Opening and re-housing protest
  • 1971 North Kensington Amenity Trust. Westway Theatre. Hawkwind free gigs
  • 1973 Notting Hill Carnival on Acklam Road. JG Ballard’s ‘Concrete Island’.
    Westway Nursery Association
  • 1975 Acklam Hall opened
  • 1976/77 Carnival riots. Aswad, the Clash, the Jam and Bob Marley under the flyover
  • 1979 Portobello Green Carnival stage. Westway totters stables
  • 1981 Acklam Hall closed. Portobello Green development. Westway Sports Centre
  • 1985 Acklam Hall re-launched as Bay 63
  • 1989 Bay 63 became Subterania. Portobello Green Fitness Centre. Skateboard park. Portobello Film Festival.
  • 2003 Neighbourhood
  • 2005 Inn on the Green
  • 2009 MuTate gallery. Portobello Pop Up Cinema. Acklam Village farmers market
  • 2010 Supperclub
  • 2012 Flyover
  • 2014 Mode
  • 2015 Westway 23 protest against Portobello Village plans