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Born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1944, Roland ‘Charlie’ Phillips grew up with his grandparents in St. Mary. He moved to Britain in 1956 to live with his parents in Notting Hill. He began to document life in the local community, taking photographs with a Kodak Brownie camera he had been given by a black American serviceman. Phillips became a freelance photographer and worked for magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Stern and Life. He briefly worked in the Merchant Navy and travelled Europe in the late 1960s while involved with protest movements. After living in Italy and Switzerland, he returned to London in 1973 and opened Smokey Joe’s Diner in Wandsworth in 1989. His photographs of people and places associated with Notting Hill depict both significant and everyday moments in the area’s history, particularly in relation to its growing black population. They were recognised in the 1990s with the publication Notting Hill in the Sixties (1991) and as part of the Museum of London exhibition Roots to Reckoning (2005).


Charlie Phillips, 'Flat to Let', ca .1959. Museum no. E.259-2011. © Charlie Phillips/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Charlie Phillips, 'Flat to Let', ca .1959. Museum no. E.259-2011. © Charlie Phillips/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Charlie Phillips, 'Portobello Road', 1974. Museum no. E.260-2011. © Charlie Phillips/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Charlie Phillips, 'Portobello Road', 1974. Museum no. E.260-2011. © Charlie Phillips/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Charlie Phillips, 'The Pisshouse Pub', 1969. Museum no. E.261-2011. © Charlie Phillips/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Charlie Phillips, 'The Pisshouse Pub', 1969. Museum no. E.261-2011. © Charlie Phillips/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Charlie Phillips, 'Notting Hill Couple', 1967. Museum no. E.264-2011. © Charlie Phillips/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Charlie Phillips, 'Notting Hill Couple', 1967. Museum no. E.264-2011. © Charlie Phillips/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.


Charlie Phillips, 'Hakim Jamal (centre), Portobello Road', 1971. Museum no. E.262-2011. © Charlie Phillips/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Charlie Phillips, 'Hakim Jamal (centre), Portobello Road', 1971. Museum no. E.262-2011. © Charlie Phillips/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Charlie Phillips, 'Vin in Chair', 2002. Museum no. E.263-2011. © Charlie Phillips/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Charlie Phillips, 'Vin in Chair', 2002. Museum no. E.263-2011. © Charlie Phillips/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.


Charlie Phillips, 'Free Darcus Howe Protest', 1977. Museum no. E.265-2011. © Charlie Phillips/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Charlie Phillips, 'Free Darcus Howe Protest', 1977. Museum no. E.265-2011. © Charlie Phillips/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Charlie Phillips, 'Westbourne Park Tube Station', 1967. Museum no. E.266-2011. © Charlie Phillips/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Charlie Phillips, 'Westbourne Park Tube Station', 1967. Museum no. E.266-2011. © Charlie Phillips/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.


Charlie Phillips, 'Cue Club Regulars', 1966. Museum no. E.267-2011. © Charlie Phillips/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Charlie Phillips, 'Cue Club Regulars', 1966. Museum no. E.267-2011. © Charlie Phillips/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Charlie Phillips, 'Big Maybelle, Cue Club’, 1966. Museum no. E.268-2011. © Charlie Phillips/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Charlie Phillips, 'Big Maybelle, Cue Club’, 1966. Museum no. E.268-2011. © Charlie Phillips/ Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.


Audio: Oral history

Charlie Phillips talks about his photograph of Duke Vin.

View transcript of video

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