Local Heroes

Criteria to select Local Heroes:
The person is
~ recently deceased (post 2000)
~ has connections with the area; and
~ has raised the profile of our area and
community through their work in voluntary
and/or in other employment.

Send your nomination(s) to: foftlbrixton@gmail.com

For the date(s) of future meetings in the Tate Library, Brixton
see the Walks/Events page.


Fictional David Bowie plaque

Norma Williamson (1947-2015)

Plaque for Henry Havelock Ellis

Born in Jamaica, Norma Williamson lived in Stockwell since arriving in the UK with her mother. Except for a one year interlude as a tour manager when she lived in Spain, Norma was an office worker. She left the Brixton law firm  which she left as an office manager to join the Health Service.  She retired as a Director of Human Resources at NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence).  A professionally trained mediator, Norma used all her skills to help people whenever she could.  Appalled by the isolation of many older people around her she first befriended and helped vulnerable neighbours and ended up becoming a Trustee for Age UK.  She was a tireless volunteer in Brixton, Treasurer of 16 years for the Brixton Society, and an active supporter of Brixton Market. Concerned with Health and Wellbeing, Norma also took a course in perfumery to make safe and healthy products based on plants and herbs at affordable prices. Norma also wrote publications and co-organised events, including two well appreciated ‘Art in Brixton’ Fairs on Windrush Square.

A green memorial was erected outside the library to celebrate Norma; and it is in her memory that the Local Heroes Initiative was started.


Dwayne Simpson (1993-2014)

Former Lambeth College student Dwayne Simpson was fatally stabbed when coming to the aid of a friend being chased. The brutal attack shocked his family, friends and community.

Lorraine Jones, his mother and a respected church minister, was determined to honour her son’s memory and established a boxing club for children on the Angell Town Estate.

Dwayne’s boxing club became Dwaynamics and today it helps young people to develop life skills through boxing.


Clive Dunn OBE (1920-2012)

Plaque for Henry Havelock Ellis

Clive Dunn, OBE, was born in Brixton into an acting family; East Enders’ Ethel Skinner (real name Gretchen Franklin) was his cousin. He studied at the Italia Conti Academy.

Like David Bowie, Clive Dunn brought Brixton to the fore when he became an every-day figure through Sergeant Jones, his Dad’s Army character


Jean Kent (1921-2013)

Plaque for Henry Havelock Ellis
Born Joan Mildred Field in Wiltshire Road, Brixton, Jean Kent  started her career as a dancer and chorus girl at a young age. She became a famous actress and one of the great stars of the golden age of British cinema. Best known today for The Browing version, she was consecrated as a consummate actress for her role in Anthony Asquith’s 1950 film, The Woman in Question. She was perhaps the most naturally beautiful of the female stars which Gainsborough transformed into huge box-office draws in the 1940s. Her smile could be winning, provocative or downright menacing, while her voice had just a touch of huskiness. Jean Kent’s son contacted Brixton Library about a memorial to his mother and donated the Trottie True film soon to be available for hire in Brixton Library.  Interestingly Trottie True also features a young Roger Moore (born in Stockwell). Further reading: http://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/news-bfi/features/jean-kent-1921-2013


Lloyd Newton (1959 - 2016)

Plaque for Henry Havelock Ellis

Lloyd Newton was born in Jamaica where he went to school until age 14 before coming to England in 1971. He went to university here and became a secondary teacher for fifteen years.
As an opera star, he performed with English National Opera, the Royal Opera House and Glyndebourne Festival. He toured with Opera North and with The Royal Shakespeare Company and performed on the international stage.
He will be most remembered as the founder and Artistic Director of the Pegasus Opera Company which gave opportunities to black and minority ethnic performers that are so underrepresented in the opera world.
His strong links with Brixton led to Pegasus giving a performance in the Black Cultural Archive in his honour after his death.


Harry Jacobs (1917 – 2011)

Plaque for Henry Havelock Ellis

Celebrated and well-loved local photographer, Harry Jacobs dedicated a lifetime to recording images that, more than mere portraits, captured impressive sections of real life in the area. He had a studio in Landor Road. His work spans three decades and can been seen at both Photographers Gallery and at 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning.  Harry Jacobs Archive was donated to Lambeth Archives and includes a life size portrait photograph of him, used in the Photographers’ Gallery Exhibition


Darcus Howe (1943 – 2017)

Plaque for Henry Havelock Ellis

Better remembered as broadcaster, writer,  and civil liberties campaigner, Darcus Howe arrived in Streatham from his native Trinidad as a teenager.  He studied law and became founding editor of Race Today,  a collective based in 167 Railton Road, which is now part of the Brixton Advice Centre. The collective produced the famous Race Today journal that became a leading voice of Black politics in 1970s Britain.  Darcus Howe was the first Chairman of  the Notting Hill Carnival and a leading figure in New Cross Massacre Action Committee.  He also contributed to the Black on Black series for Channel 4.

Local Heroes also recognise him for his role in Brixton’s Railton Road’s hub and his relationship to C. L. R. James.  The choice of Darcus Howe  as unveiler  of CLR’s James blue plaque, the first to have been dedicated to a black man drew the crowds to Railton Road and Darcus’ speech is renowned to have been inspirational.


John Fraser (1934-2017)

Plaque for Cherry Groce

John Denis Fraser was MP for the Norwood constituency from 1966 to 1997 when the constituency was abolished in a reorganisation. It had included part of Brixton.

Shortly before the 1981 riots he was trying to introduce a bill removing the infamous "Sus2 Law.

In recognition of his work as a community green champion during his later years, Brockwell Park Community Partners are endeavouring to raise money to dedicate new improved drinking fountains to him.


Sam King MBE (1926 - 2016)

Plaque for Henry Havelock Ellis

Sam King arrived in the UK on the Empire Windrush in 1948. A firm believer in the importance of that period, he later set up the Windrush  Foundation, together with Arthur Torrington, stating that the MV Windrush was, no different from the “Mayflower" which sailed to America in 1620.
Born in 1926, in Jamaica, Sam King volunteered for the Royal Air Force as an engineer in 1944, and upon return to Britain settled in Southwark, where he found work as a postman.  He became an active campaigner in the community and finally the first black Mayor of Southwark. Tributes have been paid to Mr King with many calling him a "pioneer" who  helped break down barriers for black people in politics.
Local Heroes also remember Sam King as circulation manager of the Brixton-based West-Indian Gazette. The greatly endangered publication was running into financial difficulties until Sam’s arrival in the mid-1950s.  A regular in the Railton Road Hub with links to many local cultural organisations, Sam King was also co-founder of the Notting Hill Carnival.



Gillian George (1947-2012)

Plaque for Henry Havelock Ellis

Born and raised in Balham, Gillian George ‘travelled the world’ as a student, soaking up different cultures and heritages before returning to settle down in and around Brixton. Generous and open-minded, lecturer in Lambeth College, her positive attitude was renown among her colleagues and students, enhanced by the ‘crescent-moon smile’ that ‘brightened everyone’s day’.  She was also active as a volunteer, member of the Women’s Institute and created one of the first open book clubs in Brixton Library.  A keen gardener, she never stopped spreading the knowledge of healthy eating.  Just before her death, Gillian was liaising with the landlord to build a bread oven on her allotment site.


Andrea Toorchen (1956 - 2015)

Plaque for Henry Havelock Ellis

Acclaimed Brixton artist, Anthea Toorchen’s journey defied convention – where most artists establish a medium, and style at art school and work within these confounds, Anthea worked as painter, drawer, illustrator, sculptor and print maker during her career, returning to college in her thirties to try new things.


Teri Bullen (1939 - 2015)

Plaque for Henry Havelock Ellis

Founder of Brixton Art Gallery (BAC Artist Collective), member of Women’s Work, and Textile Artist; also  Educator, Arts Officer and Curator, Teri Bullen curated the Zamani Patchwork of  Our Lives  exhibition bringing Zamani Soweto Sisters to Brixton in 1986. Her work is in Brixton’s St. Matthew’s church and many private collections. In 2014 she produced Women, Art and Politics for Brixton Calling, reactivating the Archive at 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning.  In her later years, Teri was a community leader and a Green Champion for the Myatt's Fields area.


Pearl Alcock (1934 – 2006)

Plaque for Henry Havelock Ellis

Pearl Alcock moved to London from Jamaica in her twenties. First finding work as a maid, by the 1970s she had opened a dress shop on Railton Road in Brixton and later ran a cafe and an illegal shebeen, popular with the local gay community, on the same street.

Following the 1985 Brixton Uprising both her shop and bar had failed and she found herself on the dole and unable to afford a birthday card for a friend so she drew one.

Pearl became known as an ‘Outsider Artist’, whose work was collected and shown in the ‘Outsider’ Exhibition 2005 at Hayward Gallery London and other curated exhibitions.


Brian Bloice (1939-2015)

Plaque for Henry Havelock Ellis

Brian was born in Combermere Road but became one of Streatham’s most committed adoptive sons, celebrated by them dedicating a tree to him in Streatham Common.

Founder of Lambeth Local History Forum, he was also president of the Lambeth Archaeological Society and Chairman of Streatham Society.

He was extremely knowledgeable about our whole borough, and a kind and gentle man. We are grateful to be able to acknowledge him for his considerable contribution to Lambeth's history and community.


Khadija Saye (1992-2017)

Plaque for Henry Havelock Ellis

Khadija Saye was a Gambian-British photographer who exhibited at Venice Biennale’s showcase of emerging young artists.
Before that, she had been  involved with projects  at Brixton Railton Road's 198 Gallery.
She lived with her mother in Grenfell Tower where both died in the fire of June 2017