Winifred Atwell, at the site of her former hair salon, Chaucer Road, Brixton, south London, November 2020

Winifred Atwell “Britain’s first Black Pop Star”

Date of Installation: November 2020
Location: 82d Railton Road, Brixton, SE24 0LD
Plaque: Blue

In December 1954, Winifred Atwell scored the first of her two UK no. 1s with “Let’s Have Another Party.” She enjoyed great popularity in the 1950s, with a series of boogie-woogie pop hits, selling over 20 million records in the process. Winifred Atwell was the first Black British artist to have a UK no.1, and remains the only female artist in history to have an instrumental international no. 1 hit record. Her influence on pop music throughout the 20th century could be heard through many artists, including Elton John, whose autobiography cites her as his greatest inspiration.

As well as being an established recording artist, Winifred Atwell was also a successful businesswoman. In 1956 she founded the first hair and beauty salon for African Caribbean women in the UK. She chose a premises in Brixton to deliver this service, which is currently the site of multicultural award winning Housing Association, ARHAG. To commemorate the six and a half decades since becoming a pop music phenomenon and pioneering businesswoman, Nubian Jak erected this blue plaque.

“Winifred must be having a party now with the permanent installation of her blue plaque at the site of her Hairdressing and beauty Salon in Brixton. It is great that her legacy is being rediscovered and her blue plaque will become part of the cultural heritage of the capital.” Dr Jak Beula :

"We are ecstatic to see the first of our Black Plaques turned blue, and look forward to seeing many more of these historic icons, included in the black plaque project, receive the accolades they have long deserved" Sam Adio, Creative at Havas London

“Arhag Housing Association is a social housing provider which specialises in working with and promoting migrants and refugees. At Arhag we are committed to promoting the successes of our communities and are delighted to be the custodian of a permanent Blue Plaque to Winifred Atwell at our Brixton premises, on the corner of Railton Road and Chaucer Road,. We are honoured our site was chosen, because of our record on diversity, to display the first of the 32 temporary Black Plaques being installed around the capital. And even more pleased that Winifred’s is the first of the 32 to be turned permanently into a Blue Plaque.”

Tina Bull head of housing at ARHAG

““I am so pleased to be involved in this plaque unveiling. Winifred Atwell has been a heroine of mine for many years, so it’s good to know that she will finally be recognised for her contribution to hairdressing as well as music”!

Avril Nanton,

Director of Avril’s Walks and Talks