Community shines a green light for Grenfell


At 12.54am on 14 June a dozen tower blocks in and around North Kensington will go green to commemorate the moment a year ago that fire was reported in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower.

The lighting scheme is intended as a display of solidarity among neighbouring residents’ and tenants’ associations. The buildings will be lit up between dusk and midnight each night from 14 to 17 June.

The public inquiry is in progress and has already heard some harrowing testimony, but it is generally agreed that the source was a small electrical fire in a fridge-freezer in a fourth-floor flat. The fire then ‘escaped’ up the outside of the building because the poorly designed and badly fitted exterior cladding provided both combustible materials and a wind tunnel effect. It took fire-fighters 60 hours to extinguish the blaze.

Official figures state that 72 people lost their lives as a result of the fire and a further 70 were injured (some people believe the total to have been higher). As well as being traumatised by the disaster, all the survivors lost their homes and their possessions.

The Grenfell Tower fire was very much a neighbourhood tragedy for people involved with Notting Hill Carnival. Many London carnivalists have friends, colleagues and neighbours who were directly affected by the tragedy; some, sadly, have lost people close to them.

The silence in memory of Grenfell on Carnival Sunday and Monday last year was a dignified and disciplined show of solidarity, proving that carnival-goers can stop to show respect even at the height of the bacchanal. Each band’s music was switched off as it reached the closest point on the route to the blackened tower. Many participants and revellers wore green, or green accessories, and the ‘Green for Grenfell’ theme could be seen on trucks, posters and hoardings along the route.

North Kensington and elements of Notting Hill form a close community, which overlaps with the London Carnival community, so the organisers of this ‘memorial in light’ hope that people will rally round to support the project.