The Drug Dealers of Notting Hill


Hello good people who read this blog

For some reason I am writing this just before going to bed so there may be some errors that I will correct in the morning, plus I might add bits if I find further info I’d forgotten.

I thought I’d write some recollections by looking at some photos . I don’t have many photos left some seem to have disappeared somewhere.

Including this one. This morning I suddenly decided that I didn’t want my photo in a post called “Drug Dealers of Notting Hill” just in case I got myself into trouble, I am not a Drug dealer in Notting Hill.There are some people I know professionally in this area who I definitely don’t want recognising me from my blog although their pasts are either obscenely respectable or far more debauched than my own. I need to think about this one and it might go up again in the near future. For now just imagine a young woman in hippie clothing walking up the side of a foggy cold mountain, clutching a hot cup of tea and smiling with motorbikes, a truck and tents all parked behind her.

For me personally the strange thing is that I haven’t really changed. You wouldn’t recognise me physically but I still wear that very same hat, those very same boots and I still wear purple even as I write this I am wearing a purple T-shirt which flares out at the sleeves and hips and basically looks like it’s from 1973. This is good therapy for me, to realise I am still the same person somehow and that I am oblivious to passing fashions.

At that time I didn’t live in Notting Hill as I do now but we ( me and my ex-partner) had a stall in Portobello Road on a Saturday and I had an office job during the week. We hung around a lot in Notting Hill though, this was around 1979 to 1982 . I didn’t really know Notting Hill before then although I knew South Kensington and Chelsea well and they were only down the road, North Kensington was a totally different world ( then, not now). When desperate ( which was most of the time) we scored our dope in the All Saint’s Road from a kind and very mellow Jamaican drug-dealer/silversmith at a pub called ” The Apollo”. The place doesn’t exist anymore.

Memories of the Apollo! The loos were very dodgy that’s where the deals went on. Going down the All Saints Road was dodgy too especially if you were female, young and white. Everyone treated me like a prostitute if I went to the Apollo alone.

In spite of my referring to Kensington and Chelsea a few times I also lived in South London from the age of 12 onwards, I went to a state school, and lived on an estate. Both the school I attended and estate I lived on were not rough but my friends and others lived in fear of violence, rape and crime. This was around the time of the Brixton riots and there was a lot of racial tension. I moved out of home young due to family problems and lived in a house full of crazy people in Clapham and knew street criminals, night club hostesses and troubled people living on the edge. I never felt comfortable in South London and my personal experience of both the black community and the white youth of the Ladbroke Grove area was that they were far more creative, secure, laid back and safe to be around compared to some of the places I had known. For many reasons I had experienced some dangerous and distressing situations before , and even though I had virtually no self-confidence and was mild-mannered, my experiences had made me unusually daring and streetwise , I remember needing both of these qualities to go alone once to score down the Apollo. I wasn’t able to buy anything instead I was surrounded by black guys who either wanted to give me a £5 pound draw for free or one or two were trying to sell me parsley for £5.

I didn’t usually go to the Apollo alone but with my boyfriend and his friends. We weren’t ripped off too badly. The place was rough though and one time we were having drink there and I said to Michael ” Let’s go I don’t like the atmosphere I feel like something bad’s going to happen”. I think he was about to tell me to stop being paranoid when I was hit the face by a flying chair , shortly followed by the person who had previously been sitting on it. It was like something in a Western one second people were just drinking their rum and coke and the next everyone was fighting and breaking glasses, bottles, furniture flying, people wrestling with one another, blood, we were sheltering behind a table for a few seconds and we escaped through the door. The place was closed down and busted a few times and eventually we stopped going there.

Another one of our favourite pubs was what we and others called “ Hennerky’s” ( n.b. I have no idea how this is spelt) although its real name was and still is “The Earl of Londsdale“. The legendary pub was mentioned in the 1960’s version of “Alternative London“. I really need to do some more research and get hold of a copy.

I have a copy of Alternative London from 1982. I loved that book , I think we had to buy a couple of copies because people kept borrowing it and never giving it back, a common problem with hippie borrowers of good books and borrowers of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple albums although these tended to be borrowed by bikers and no one expected bikers to return things on time if ever.

Hennerky’s, like the Earl of Londsdale now, had a beer garden.In the summer it was full of stoned groups of hippies ,punks often with mohicans, with young children, dogs, groups of friends, guitarists and anyone who would grab a table and hang out there all day. Then indoors it had the front bar which was often dirty and a bit dingey and had tourists and locals and then there was THE BACK BAR!

Oh my God the back bar, a den of iniquity. The carpet was so sticky that going there in flip-flops was not recommended, in fact going there in any kind of clothing was not reccommended. The walls were black with dirt and everywhere else , in every spare space was a cramped crowd of mean-looking tattoed, denim-shredded, leather clad, smelly bikers , proper bikers with initiation ceremonies and “colours” , I seem to remember that these were special patches sewn on to their jackets when they had passed some terrible test to show membership. They also had sleeveless torn denim jackets that they wore over their worn out thick leather bikers jackets . I still have my biker jacket, I had to throw it down the stairs and sand paper it when I first bought it so it looked worn and not clean or new and uncool. But as well as being bikers or Hell’s Angels they were either drug-dealers or people wanting to score drugs, or people simply in the wrong place and unable to find their way out due to the tightly packed room and sticky carpet. Some of the punters there were acquaintances of ours but no close friends.The atmosphere was very heavy. We usually went in the beer garden but going into the back bar was quite an adventure but very uncomfortable I don’t remember seats just this hole really. It was the sort of place where Lemmy would have looked at home and where anyone looking like ” the Fonz” posing in a leather jacket and looking clean might have had their head kicked in. Actually Lemmy was much cleaner and neater and altogether pleasant and nicer than most of the blokes I saw in there, stacked up at the bar waiting to get served.

We never tried to score at Hennerky’s it was too risky, there were always raids. After our many Apollo experiences, through a female friend of mine we eventually discovered a place known locally simply as”The Sport’s Shop” or I think it was called “354” or was it “281”????? a high number anyway ,the number of the house( if anyone reading this lived there don’t worry I won’t use your real names). It was above or next to a sport’s shop in Harrow Road.

My friend had been walking past it one evening bored and looking for a good time and had heard music coming from inside. She rang their doorbell and asked them if she could come to their party, they weren’t having a party but they welcomed her in anyway. To her delight and surprise the house above the sport’s shop was a network of bedsits and in every bedsit was a different friendly drug-dealer, most of them were musicians too, all were decadent but smiling , many had jobs…..but I have to go to bed now and will tell you more next time.

In the back bar at Hennecky’s this would have been playing on the juke box

P.s. If the drug squad read this don’t bother coming round I don’t buy drugs anymore .

p.p.s. Sorry if I have offended any bikers…

or drug dealers

or Lemmy

or fans of Lemmy

Sorry I have to go to bed now . I am exhausted. I will write more soon. Anyone remember how to spell Hennerky’s and what you remember?

Sorry for saying sorry all the time.

Love and Peace

Born2rant

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9 Comments

  1. All Saints Road has gotten tamer in the last decade, I think. The local park has been made more open looking to discourage prostitutes and the groupings of gangs seems to have moved up to Holland Park. But, yep, it’s still easy to find certain sellers down All Saints Road.

    I’m fortunate that I’m not a pub goer…But I wouldn’t mind seeing if Lemmy popped in or Black Sabbath (like the Dio era the most) were on the jukebox.

    I’m quite into heavy metal, though as a child I never thought I’d eventually get into it unless I owned a motorbike, wore denim and had tattoos. At least I have facial hair! But then most of the stuff I like was from around the early to mid 90s.

  2. Hello There

    Thanks for your reply. The All Saint’s Road is totally different now, it used to be a scary street to walk down if you were not black although it didn’t put me off and nothing bad ever happened to me there. Now it’s like full of the horribleness that has become Notting Hill with expensive shops etc.. There are one or two places that are the same for example I think they have the same mini-cab office and a reggae record shop. The Mangrove restaurant which was the scariest place ever in my recollection became a posh bar “The Manor Bar” you couldn’t get any further from the original place. Anyway I might write more about that sometime. I don’t go down there very much but my friend Dave Russell has lived around there since the 60s and could tell us more.
    Now everyone has tattoos so it’s not at all any kind of statement . In those days men had tattoos, usually those in the armed forces or the navy. The Hell’s Angel’s I seem to remember would have the word “LOVE” tattoed on one hand on the knuckles and one the other hand it would say “HATE”.Plus they often would tattoo the logos of their favourite bands, skulls, snakes, that kind of thing. Biker culture is very much like a cult religion.
    In the early eighties some women were starting to have tattos but usually it would be a pretty little butterfly on an upper thigh or ankle and this was very radical! Also piercings were just starting due to PUNK but were few and far between. Back then people would have lots of piercings on their earlobes, and some with a ring through the nose,men started to get their ears pierced with one earring. Later in the eighties some of the musicians I knew got more extreme piercings of genitalia but that’s another story.
    There were a lot of non-bikers who listened to heavy metal then , the “Headbangers” I’m sure they are probably still called headbangers. I did a lot of headbanging and air guitar playing until I saw on the news someone who’d written off their brain by shaking their heads too much to music. The headbangers also turned music into their religion and I think it’s probably the same now. They used to embroider the logos of bands onto their denim “cut-off” jackets, the four symbols of Led Zeppelin was a popular one but also this included bands like “Yes” and other prog rock bands. These days we think far more in separate music categories than then.
    I’m out of touch with metal now but I think it’s pretty much similar. A couple of years ago I knew a girl who had her chest autographed by the band “Sepultura” and had all of these tattoed on at the same festival. She also had many piercings. If anything the metal thing is more extreme.
    Thanks it stimulates my thoughts and memories
    Love and peace
    Born2rant

  3. Hey again,

    I think in a lot of places it’s key to not look a victim – i.e. head up, walk confidently – and more often than not you’ll be okay. Potential aggressors only care for the docile.

    Some parts of the area do still feel unique and human, which is something to be grateful for. I can’t stand seeing coffee shops every few yards.

    I remember once seeing reams of Hell’s Angels on bikes down Notting Hill in the late 80’s. It was fascinating to see as a kid anyway. But to me then, the music was just noise. In some cases, it still is.

    I definitely can’t headbang! 😀 I tried once and pulled a muscle in my neck. I in no way look or act like a postcard metal fan (not much now anyway), but then it’s not an exclusive like, but perhaps very noteworthy as it was what dominated my teens. I had the black jeans and assorted black metal shirts of mainly US thrash metal (basically metal with punk’s speed) bands, and one Motorhead one just as their bulldog kind of mascot looked very cool!
    I wouldn’t say the bands I like(d) are that extreme, just perhaps faster. But even so a number of those bands have changed their sound and softened in age. Though not all. I don’t follow any new metal, but I did look at older metal to see the lineage of the music I liked, so a bit of Sabbath and Zep are in my collection.

    I’ve seen a couple of old school looking metal fans with patches on their denim jackets of Thin Lizzy and other bands of that era – heavy metal logos and artwork were always well made, if sometimes over the top. I guess in a way that was like what having a social networking page is now (I dislike those and don’t have any accounts), displaying your ‘links’, in a way.

    I agree though that there is a kind of cult-ish thing surrounding bands, which is a bit sad. There are a lot of people who say they like ‘x’ music, make themselves look stereotypically synonymous with it and accept nothing else. I think a current example is why people really cared that Jay-Z is headlining Glastonbury; to some people he hurts the vibe of what they think the festival is about, which I think I’d sum up as generic indie rubbish these days.

    I think my mum was scared by all punks but an incident quickly changed her perception, when she was pregnant (the bump being me) she unadvisedly went out alone on a snowy day and slipped. A bunch of punks – one with a mohawk and trendy swastika t-shirt, albeit just for shock value – hurried over and helped her up, bought her tea in a cafe and walked her home.
    I’m not sure what the point of this little text was, but thought I’d share it anyway. Keep it up. I have your blog as my homepage.

  4. Hi There thanks for your contribution especially the punk story.
    I sometimes trust people who dress aggressively more than those who dress nicely!

    Love and peace
    Born2rant

  5. Henekey’s. I remember it from the mid-late 60s but only from the outside, for one thing I was a bit too young to get into pubs.

    Hit by nostalgia for this time and place, I visited Portobello again early last summer. The market and the antique arcades were surprisingly unchanged. But so empty. I went into Henekey’s – now a Sam Smith’s pub and – this was early lunchtime on an early summer Saturday – had a pint at my own little table with one other couple in the place. Much safer and inoffensive, but all rather sad.

  6. Hello There Josser
    Thanks for your comment, sorry about the delayed response . Thanks so much for your comment. Ii have started writing ( in my head) part 2 of ” the drug dealers of notting hill” and other places but i got side tracked and have also interviewed my friend Dave Russell again about the all saints Road and all kinds of stuff including that very pub. Lemmy did hang out there as well as well-known politicians which is weird!

    It was already a Sam Smith’s pub back in the late 70s and I remember there were 2 different labels on the bottles one blue and I think one brown ..anyway the bikers and headbangers and us all used to have to drink the one’s with the blue label as that was the cool one and the other one wasn’t cool. Down the Portobello Road I remember bikers and headbangers were always seen carrying a bottle of Sam Smith’s blue labelled bitter or a bottle of Newcastle Brown. These subcultures are very conforming and conservative in their rebellion!
    In the late 80s and early 90s that pub was still full of musos but no really dodgy people.
    Anyway thanks very much for your comment and I will write another post soon, if I can find time with my other projects. Plus i need a new computer but have no money at all!
    Love and peace
    Born2rant

  7. Yep Leemy did drink at Heneky’s,as did Chrissie Hynde but, by the time you got there Chissie had ,oved to Muswell Hill, and Lemmy could be fond feeding the one-armed bandit at The Alexandra on Portobello. No mention of Finches then?

    • Hello Joly
      Thanks for getting in touch and for your comments.
      There were so many bikers at Heneky’s, it was so dirty and smokey that I couldn’t have picked out Lemmy from a Heneky’s back bar line-up!
      I just used to see him marching up and down Portobello Road every Saturday and people I knew either worked for him or had met him ( well I met him too once). I’ve never met Chrissie Hynde but I have met Ray Davies who talked quite a bit about her, but I can’t remember much of what he said, and I probably wouldn’t repeat it here if I did.
      I didn’t really go to Finches, it wasn’t my hang-out. I went to quite a few pubs in the area but we weren’t really drinkers at the time, we either stayed at home making music or went to other people’s houses in North West London to make music and get stoned.
      As far as “Big Dread” goes. I think I might know who you mean, in which case I’ve seen him around here still until about 2 or 3 years ago. He must be aged now as he wasn’t young in the 70s.
      Thanks again for your comments.
      I have many more stories but am reluctant to write them here, maybe I should write a semi-autobiographical “novel” so no one can get in trouble!

  8. Curse my typing!

    Oh and, did you not encounter “Big Dread” ? In the 70s he used to specialize in selling oregano to newcomers from his station close to The Mountain Grill.


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