Hubert ‘Baron’ Baker


‘Activist who heckled Oswald Mosely’

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Jamaican-born Hubert Baker, better known as Baron Baker, volunteered to join the RAF in 1944. While with the RAF, he served as a policeman. He found the local people welcoming but his first experience of racism was in a pub in Gloucester where white American soldiers refused to drink alongside Black customers. He was undefeated against their attacks.

Baron had joined the RAF to fight fascism and he continued to do so even after the war was over in May 1945. He remained in the UK from June 1945 and opposed the British Government’s plans to repatriate West Indian servicemen. Thousands were demobbed to the colonies.

When the Empire Windrush arrived on June 22, 1948, many of the West Indian passengers faced difficulties in their attempts to find accommodation. In 1988, Baron gave an interview which was published by the South London Press, The Voice newspaper, and Lambeth Council, called ‘Forty Winters On’ to mark the 40th anniversary of the ship’s arrival. He told them that in 1948, he played a key role that helped passengers who had nowhere to stay on June 22. He went to see Major John Keith at the Colonial Office, but said the Government made no arrangements to accommodate passengers who had nowhere to stay.

Baron also said he suggested that the Clapham Common Deep Shelter be opened to accommodate homeless passengers. It had been used as an air raid shelter during the Second World War, and to hold Italian and German prisoners of war. Baron stayed there when visiting London and could not find accommodation. His said his suggestion was eventually accepted by the Colonial Office.

Baron often made speeches against racism at Hyde Park Corner and in 1956 was arrested for heckling fascist Oswald Mosley during a meeting. He was given an absolute discharge. Racist landlords and employment issues plagued West Indian settlers in the UK. Mosley called for their repatriation to the colonies during speeches. Baron was a founder member of The Coloured People’s Progressive Association and an organiser of the United African-Asian League.

As a Ladbroke Grove resident, Baron and his friends saw the need for resistance and organisation against ‘Teddy boys’ who roamed the streets at nights looking for trouble. Matters came to a head in the race riots of August 1958. Baron and his friends, using their own military experience, encountered hundreds of white terrorists in Notting Hill, London. For two days, marauding racists terrorised members of the Black communities. On the third day, despite the local authority’s advice to Black people to stay indoors,

Baron and friends pushed back and fights took place at 9 Blenheim Crescent, the informal ‘headquarters’ of the Black community in the area. Again, using their military skills, they prepared, and hundreds of angry white terrorists were met with fierce resistance. Molotov cocktails were thrown from windows and running battles took place. Baron and his friends succeeded in chasing them out of the area, but the police arrested him for participating in the riots.

Notting Hill was home until his passing in 1996. He is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, London.

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