"since the race riots of two summers earlier the carnival had been a site of heightened hopes and fears"
Police with riot shields (left) in Brixton (April 1981)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePolice with riot shields (left) in Brixton (April 1981) - Credit: Kim Aldis

There were clashes between the police and young black Londoners at the 1975 Notting Hill carnival, rioting at the 1976 carnival, and further disturbances at the end of the 1987 carnival. As may be seen in this account of the carnival's history, some white residents of the Notting Hill area have been opposed to the holding of the carnival. The 1976 riot was the background to the song 'White Riot' by the punk rock group The Clash, and to the reggae song 'Three Babylon' by Aswad.

Listen here to 'White Riot' on Spotify.

Listen here to 'Three Babylon' on Spotify.

In April 1981 (two years before the period in which this part of The Line of Beauty is set), there were serious clashes between police and protestors in Brixton, an area of south London with a large African-Caribbean community. This event was the first of what became known as the Brixton riots.

For further information about the Notting Hill Carnival, see also the bookmark for p.14.