Friday 3 May 2024

This Sunday May 5th watch "Legacy In the Dust: The Four Aces Story" - a film screening at the Rio Cinema in Dalston at 2.15 - 4.45pm.

"Legacy In the Dust: The Four Aces Story" is a rarely screened but fascinating and authentic account of Dalston Lane's legendary Four Aces reggae club. Another great film by Winstan Whittar. The timing of this screening could not be more poignant following the funeral of Newton Dunbar last Tuesday in the 'Cathedral of the East End' - St Mark's church, Dalston. Newton was the club's founder and its sole proprietor from 1966 until 1999. He features strongly in the film.

Legacy In The Dust: The Four Aces Story TRAILER from Winstan Whitter Filmmaker on Vimeo.

Rio Film Tickets link:

For over 30 years the Four Aces had showcased international stars of black music in Dalston's historic Victorian circus and theatre buildings. But, as redevelopment plans for the site emerged, the slates above Newton's flat and the theatre's roof coverings were removed. The club was evicted in 1999 by compulsory purchase but Hackney Council and TfL's deal for their the town centre scheme fell through.

The buildings then became increasingly derelict. There was community outcry against the destruction of our local cultural and architectural legacy. Newton Dunbar was a key witness in OPENDalston's Court proceedings, against Hackney Council and the GLA's London Development Agency, opposing its replacement by the Dalston Square scheme, but the buildings were eventually demolished in 2007


The eventual redevelopment of Dalston Square involved the scandalously expensive and publicly subsidised £63million concrete Slab  spanning over the railway cutting. There was almost complete absence of "genuinely affordable" housing - despite all the land being in public ownership. (Sounds familiar? Ed.)

In recent years the development has been characterised by shops which have never been occupied and  being endlessly shrouded in scaffolding for the replacement of cladding and other works due to sub-standard construction. (or, as Hackney and TfL had promised at the time, a development "of the highest architectural quality")

But the memory of Dalston's rich African Caribbean, and especially Jamaican, cultural legacy lives on in Winstan's film, in the Peace Mural, in Sir Collins emerging archive and, we hope, in some memorial artworks to be sited in Dalston Square's Blues Street ( Presently being discussed with Hackney Council Ed.)

Wednesday 10 April 2024

RIP Newton Dunbar

Many will know and remember Newton as the founder in 1966 and, for the following 33 years, the proprietor of the legendary club Four Aces at 12 Dalston Lane. The club became one of the first venues to promote black music in the United Kingdom. It was credited with playing a significant role in the evolution of Reggae, from Ska, to Rocksteady, to Dub, to Lovers, to Dancehall and so on into the early evolution of Jungle and DnB.

Many acts from JA made their U.K debut there, among them Desmond Dekker, Jimmy Cliff, Alton Ellis, Prince Buster etc, as well as many U.S soul Giants including Jimmy Ruffin, Ann Peebles, Percy Sledge and so forth - not taking into account his support and promotion of the fledgling U.K Sound systems, Count Shelly/Sir Coxsone/Jah Shaka and countless others.

 "Save our heritage"

We remember also Newton for his important contribution in the battle to try and save Dalston's legacy as a centre for black music and the heritage buildings in which the Four Aces Club had its home. Newton features in Winstan Whitter's film "Save our heritage" which tells that story.

Newton always worked hard towards and supported the promotion of creative positivity and in the course of his lifetime achieved SO much. So now with his passing let's see if we can give the gentleman the kind of send-off he deserves and at the same time see if we can't persuade Hackney Council to finally remember and honour exactly the kind of Musical Pioneer who did so much towards making this Borough the "Cultural Hot-spot" it likes to view itself as nowadays.