Stewart Home continues his exploration of the undocumented corners of the 1960s London beatnik scene with a post on West London face, Phil Green. Stewart mentions an interesting sounding place in Chelsea:
'On 12 March 1962 The Times carried the headline ‘Drug Charges After Raid On Café’ above an article that mentioned Green among others, then on 26 March 1962 the same paper followed this up with ‘C.N.D. Supporters Given Drugs’, concluding on 26 April with a news story entirely devoted to Phil Green entitled ‘Youth’s Beard A Part Of Façade’. Philip John Green then aged twenty was one of ten men and women arrested for their involvement with a ‘drug ring’ centred on The Peace Café in Fulham Road, Chelsea. At the time Green worked at this establishment as a chef. He pleaded guilty to possession of Indian hemp and twenty grains of opium, as well as ‘hubble bubble pipes’ used for opium smoking'.
The Peace Cafe was described in court as a supposed 'local headquarters of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament' that was actually a place where drugs were 'administered to young people who were supporters of that campaign and congregated there' (Times 26.3.1962). The Magistrate referred to it as 'an absolute den of iniquity and debauchery' when sentencing the manager, Kenneth Browning to 2 month's imprisonment 'for permitting the cafe to be used for smoking opium'. Browning told the court that he had been a supporter of the Committee of 100, the direct action wing of the peace movement (Times, 4 April 1962).
I haven't found out anything more about this place, except that a Peace Cafe was opened in the 1960s in Fulham by Rachel Pinney, a member of the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War. I assume this was the same cafe, one of those places where currents from the beatnik, drugs and radical political scenes intersected several years before the 'counter culture' became a media phenomenon.
If you know any more about the Peace Cafe, or any other interesting clubs, bars and coffee houses from that time please leave a comment.
(see also The Gyre and Gimble)