Competitors for the Carnival Queen title rehearsing at Holborn Hall, Gray’s Inn Road, London.
The first Caribbean Carnival (the precursor to Notting Hill Carnival) was held in St Pancras Town Hall in January 1959.
Contenders for the role of Carnival Queen rehearsing for the first Caribbean Carnival, London, January 1959. Photographer Chris Ware.
Faye Craig was crowned “Carnival Queen” and won a trip to carnival in Trinidad the following year.
There were 12 contestants, all from the UK’s West Indian community - 6 Jamaicans, 6 Trinidadians, 1 from British Guiana and 1 Vincentian. From left to right, Fay Craig, Faye Sparkes, Charmain Ourre, Shirley Robinson, June Allison Bailey, Beryl Cunningham, Ronia Richards, Carlita Callymore, Monica Dwyer and Terez Wiggins.
The beauty contest was championed by Claudia Jones, a leading Black political activist, founder and editor of the West Indian Gazette, and ‘Mother of Notting Hill Carnival’. Claudia Jones was also a supporter of beauty and hairdressing salons run by West Indian women and insisted that the West India Gazette carry beauty tips as way to communicate to a female audience the goals of Black self-realisation and valuing Black women’s beauty.
"this was before the Black Power Days. This was well before we all knew that we were beautiful. We might not have know it, but she knew, and she started this beauty contest." - Corinne Skinner Carter