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The St Pauls Carnival legend ready to bring Ghetto Force back

Selecta Watson looking ahead to the return of St Pauls Carnival 2023
Selecta Watson is looking ahead to the return of St Pauls Carnival 2023

A stalwart and legend of St Pauls Carnival has spoken of his excitement that the iconic Bristol event is back for the first time in four years.

And Selecta Watson has confirmed he will be bringing his Ghetto Force sound system to the stage in Portland Square, where thousands will party the day and evening away on July 1.

It’s the first full-scale St Pauls Carnival since 2019 – the pandemic stopped the party in 2020 and 2021, and last year’s was a series of smaller community events. And for Selecta, it will be a triumphant reconnection to something that’s been a huge part of his life for 40 years, and a return to his natural home – curating and MCing some of Bristol’s top talent in a wide range of musical genres on the day.


Selecta has been involved in carnival for as long as he can remember. He went from a child helping out at a family stall to being a key member of the organising committee, and staging the most popular and enduring sound system.

“I think the first time properly helping and doing something for the carnival was when I was about nine or ten,” said the St Pauls Carnival legend, who is now 49. “My uncle ran a stall on Brighton Street back then, and I would help him all day on that.

“I kept to that until I was maybe 18 or 19, and I was starting to get more and more into music. I was playing at christening and weddings and parties. My uncle’s good friend Rene ran a sound system called Godfather Sounds, which was always set up outside the Inkerman’s pub, and I think in about 1990 or 91 he said to me ‘why don’t you play with me at St Pauls Carnival?’ he asked me and I went along that first year, and started doing that every year,” Selecta said.

Looking back now, Rene was mentoring Selecta to take over what at the time was an already well-established and important sound system at carnival.

“He was an old guy back then and he took a step back a bit, but he was so important for me. He taught me how to set it all up, doing all the wiring, create a good sound system, and he showed me how to do things. I have just got so much love and respect for Rene. He said to me he wanted me to keep things going, and I promised him I would. He would just be so happy if he could see how it’s grown now,” he said.

The Ghetto Force stage at St Pauls Carnival in 2013
The Ghetto Force stage at St Pauls Carnival in 2013 

Selecta took over in the early-1990s, and in the mid-90s he joined famous Bristol pirate radio station Ragga FM, and for two years used the stage at the Inkerman as a platform for Ragga FM DJs.

By around 1998, it became the Ghetto Force stage, and for the past 25 years that’s been the name now synonymous with Selecta, through music nights at venues around Bristol and beyond, and there’s even a range of clothing with the GF brand.

An image from the police helicopter taken in 2012, showing the scale of the crowds at Selecta Watson's Ghetto Force stage outside the Inkerman in St Pauls at St Pauls Carnival
An image from the police helicopter taken in 2012, showing the scale of the crowds at Selecta Watson’s Ghetto Force stage outside the Inkerman in St Pauls at St Pauls Carnival 

“The stage has had changes over the years,” he reflected. “Back in the 2000s we were the only ones doing competitions, the dancehall king and queen, and I built it up so we had a national reputation – artists would want to play on the Ghetto Force stage. When I first started we had maybe ten people dancing in front in the street, and I remember that vividly. Now, we have thousands,” he added.

In the 2000s, Selecta got involved in running the entire event, and was a prominent figure in the carnival organising committee for many years. “I knew that it wasn’t enough for me to just do my stage, that if the event was to happen, then it needs people to step forward and help, so I did,” he said.

The carnival went through a few turbulent years in the 2010s, and has since been taken forward with a new organisation and board, but Selecta will still be heavily involved on the day, but in a different location.

After 2017, such was the crowds of previous years, organisers re-jigged the spaces and decided that Ghetto Force was so popular it needed to be in Portland Square. So in 2018 and 2019, thousands danced the day and evening away in the stage’s new location, only for the pandemic to cut the party short since then.

This year, Selecta is back with the motivation of three missed years to make up for, and determined to make the Ghetto Force stage the place to see Bristol artists shine.

“It’s all about giving Bristol artists a platform, and showing the people what Bristol is all about. I want to get Bristol artists to a certain level, and it will be a wide range of music, we’ll have reggae, R&B, hip-hop, Afrobeats, garage, drum n bass and jungle, and be a good mix of MCs, artists and DJs,” he said. “Portland Square is going to be crazy.”

Selecta Watson and rap star K-Ners, looking ahead to the return of St Pauls Carnival 2023
Selecta Watson and rap star K-Ners,

The list of artists already set to appear on the Ghetto Force stage includes K*Ners, Asher Simmons, Rass Kelly, Frilla, Dash Villz, reggae singer Alicia Scott, from Cardiff, Bristol’s top drum n bass and jungle syndicate Urban Front Sound, and other sound systems and artists. “It’s going to be amazing. I know Rene would just be so happy,” said Selecta.


‘Banksy is still keeping us going’ says Bristol youth club years after mural sale

It was one of the priciest art pieces ever to appear on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow
It is understood to have sold for more than half a million pounds

It was one of the priciest art pieces ever to make its way in front of the experts on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, and the sale of a Banksy mural is still said to be supporting a Bristol youth club nine years later. Part of The Riverside Youth Project, Broad Plain Boys’ Club in Easton gained international attention when it sold a Banksy work with the artist’s blessing, after finding it on a boarded-up doorway outside.

Dennis Stinchcombe, who has been the club leader for 47-and-a-half years, was the first person to find the creation, which showed two lovers embracing while both are staring at their phones, but believed it was the work of vandals. He only discovered the artist behind the piece – entitled Mobile Lovers – was Banksy, after fans and film crews descended on the building.

It’s understood that Bristol’s elusive street artist was a former club member – and this was his attempt to help keep the project alive after a lack of funding meant it could be forced to close. Dennis later took the artwork onto the Antiques Roadshow, where it was valued at £400,000 but later sold for a reported £563,000 to a philanthropist.

Speaking about the legacy of the sale, Dennis said this week: “Banksy was a member of the club when he was a young boy of 14 or 15, you see. I believe he saw our appeal for money to save the club and wanted to give back. I wouldn’t ever reveal what his name is and who he is, but he went to the club and grew up around here.

“When there was a lot of publicity for it, there was a man outside who told me to take the painting off the door so it didn’t get damaged – to this day, I believe that was him as well.

“We still have about £20,000 left of the Banksy money in our account, so it’s still keeping us going. It’s not just the money that helps us; having his name behind us helps us enormously to keep us going.”

Dennis’s wife Edna, 66, who also runs the club, added: “We’re very grateful [to Banksy]. He’s become a major part of our lives, and just having his name behind us has given opportunities to thousands of children in Bristol. It’s amazing.

“I must say if he ever wants to help again, it would be nice if he could do it on my house next time so we could have a nice retirement!”

Broad Plain offers boys the opportunity to participate in sports and recreation activities to help them “realise their full potential”.

Dennis said  “Established over 128 years ago, the youth club I run is one of the oldest in the country and keeping it going has been my life’s work.

“We help hundreds of children every year, providing a safe space where they can go and keep them off the streets, and I’ve helped run it for 46 years – so I was devastated when financial troubles threatened to close us down.

“Things came to a head in 2013 when I had a triple-heart bypass and spent six months in recovery. Looking back, I think, in part, this was caused by the stress of constantly trying to secure funding to keep the centre open.

“We were six months from closing, and once I was better, we started a new fundraising campaign. Banksy – who, unbeknown to me, had been a member of the club when he was around 14 – must have read about it.”

The 67-year-old said he was with his son when they spotted the artwork on a door outside the club. He said: “I thought it was amazing, but didn’t for one second think it was a Banksy – until suddenly, two days later, loads of people descended after the artist himself had posted a photo of the piece on his website.”

Dennis admits he “thought there’d been a murder” because of the number of cameras and film crew outside, and while he was thrilled to have an authentic Banksy etched on the door of his club, a fight then broke out with the council over who owned it.

Luckily, the artist himself settled the dispute. Dennis says: “Banksy sent a letter to me confirming it belonged to me, and it was stored in the museum for safekeeping.

“It was valued at £400k and later sold for £563k. I can genuinely say it transformed and changed the lives of so many.”

Dennis and his team donated £96k to other youth groups in the area, which he says has helped thousands of young people access youth work. They were also able to buy two new minibuses, as well as install central heating and replace old equipment.

Dennis told the Sun: “Most importantly, we were able to keep going. In monetary terms, the art was sold for hundreds of thousands, but to us, it was absolutely priceless. To us, it was priceless – I can’t thank Banksy enough.”

The transformation of Bristol Temple Quarter is one of the UK’s largest regeneration projects

Temple Quarter will become a world-class gateway to the region that unlocks our city and the West of England’s potential. A series of well-connected and thriving mixed-use communities will benefit new and existing residents, employees and visitors with new homes, jobs, infrastructure and opportunities.
With Temple Meads railway station at its heart,

Temple Quarter will reflect Bristol’s past, present and future to become a blueprint for sustainable and inclusive city regeneration.


Temple Quarter sits at the heart of Bristol, one of the UK’s most productive and fast-growing regions and a focal point for the West of England’s £39bn economy.

Temple Quarter will transform over 130 hectares of brownfield land over the next 25 years into a series of thriving, well-connected mixed-use communities. The regeneration of the area will deliver 10,000 new homes in a mix of types and tenures, including much-needed new affordable homes. 22,000 new jobs will be created, bringing inclusive economic growth to the city and new opportunities for Bristol’s citizens, alongside £1.6bn annual income to the city economy.

Tackling the challenges posed by the climate crisis and a changing employment landscape head-on, the regeneration will build on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to put low-carbon, climate-friendly homes, jobs, and opportunities at the heart of the city, alongside new green spaces and an 18-hour economy, where visitors and residents can live and work and spend time.

A refurbished Temple Meads Station will build on its role as the region’s largest transport hub. Work will preserve the heritage of Brunel’s historic station while creating a gateway to Bristol and the West of England that is fit for the 21st century. Works in and around the station will be a catalyst for change, unlocking opportunities for new homes, jobs and public spaces in St Philip’s Marsh. Public transport, walking and cycling will all be made easier, creating a greener, better-connected city region.

Communities and businesses – new and existing – will co-exist within residential, commercial, leisure and cultural areas, supporting a thriving 24-hour economy that works for everyone.

The new University of Bristol Enterprise Campus will bring cutting-edge innovation, education, and skills to the area, boosting Bristol’s reputation as a centre of knowledge and enabling world-leading research and development to link with and work alongside local and regional businesses.

Temple Quarter will have social value at its core, contributing to a fairer and more equitable city that benefits all communities during and after construction; helping to create a city region in which everyone has a stake, and no one gets left behind.

To make this happen we will be ambitious and work together. The project partners, Bristol City Council, the West of England Combined Authority, Network Rail and Homes England, have come together to create this vision and we will work collaboratively with Bristol’s citizens to help shape a successful future for Temple Quarter that showcases what can be achieved by public sector organisations working in partnership.

Bristol: Reggae orchestra launches Windrush Choir

Ms Rose said working with the choir was “just an absolute joy”

An orchestra has celebrated the 60th anniversary of Jamaican independence from the UK by launching a Windrush choir.

Bristol Reggae Orchestra recently launched the Windrush Reggae Choir, led by voice coach Gena Rose.

The six-month project will learn from the Windrush generation and their descendants, using funding from the government’s Windrush Day Grant Fund.

Ms Rose said the singers were “absolutely brilliant”.

The choir is one of 35 projects across England given a share of £500,000 to deliver projects which commemorate the history and contributions of the Windrush generation to British culture.

The orchestra has been awarded funding through the Windrush Day Grant Fund to bring together a reggae choir
American-born Gena Rose rehearsed with the choir in St Agnes Church in Bristol on Wednesday
Leader Becky Scott said: “Lots of people in the community like to sing and wanted to get involved.”
The project will culminate with a gala event on 22 October

Funeral details of Bristol civil rights activist Roy Hackett released

They will lay the Bristol Bus Boycott organiser to rest on 16 September

Relatives of civil rights pioneer Roy Hackett are inviting the city to celebrate his life during a day of remembrance next month. The community activist, who helped organise the 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott which paved the way for the Race Relations Act 1965, died on 3 August aged 93.

Mr Hackett was made an OBE for his lifelong fight against racism in 2009, an honour followed up with an MBE in 2020. His high-profile fans included Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who said the Bristol Bus Boycott “should be taught in every school”.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1928, Mr Hackett travelled to Britain in 1952 as part of the Windrush generation. He lived in Liverpool, London and Wolverhampton before settling in Bristol.

There, he found that the owners of boarding houses would not rent to him because of his colour, and he spent his first night sleeping in a doorway. In 1962 his wife Ena applied for a job as a bus conductor with the Bristol Omnibus Company and was refused, despite being qualified.

Inspired by Rosa Parks’ actions in America, Mr Hackett formed a pressure group with Owen Henry, Audley Evans and Prince Brown to fight the colour bar on Bristol’s buses. Supported by senior Labour party politicians, their action was successful when the bus firm announced an end to their ban on non-white employees.

The “born activist” continued his work as a community leader and mentor to Bristol youths, establishing the Commonwealth Coordinated Committee and the St Paul’s Carnival – one of the biggest of its kind in Europe.

His remembrance event will take place at Elim Church on Jamaica Street from 11am on Friday September 16, followed by burial at South Bristol Cemetery and a wake at Gloucestershire County Cricket Club.

Anyone seeking further information about the day is asked to telephone Adams Funeral Directors on 07860555133 or email

Small independent Cafe opens in Cristol Bristol.

Small independent Cafe opens in Cristol Bristol.

Bristol man’s garage is now tiny coffee shop measuring 3ft by 6ft

A Bristol man who opened a tiny coffee shop inside his garage says he hopes it will contribute to his neighbourhood’s growing sense of community. Rob Savage sells cakes, coffees and cups of tea from his garage, which measures just 3ft by 6ft in size.

The enterprising neighbour converted the space along Lancaster Street, on the border of Redfield and Barton Hill, during the lockdown. Named ‘3ft 6’ after it’s dimensions, Rob opened last month and believes the eaterie is one of the smallest in the UK.

Despite its compact size he says the does a roaring trade and even offers seating on the paths outside his terraced home. One reviewer on Google raved: “I bumped into the coffee shop rather accidentally while walking around.

“They make superb cappuccino. Cakes also were very fresh.” Another reviewer wrote last week: “Great coffee and friendly owner, welcome addition to the neighbour and opposite the [Netham] park.”

Open on weekends between 10am-3pm for the moment, Rob built the tiny cafe out of his garage that he uses as a workshop with limited resources. Rob, who is also an artist and designer, said: “It’s very much about being a neighbourhood cafe.

“I made it in response to a demand that became apparent during lockdown where basically there was nothing around. I realised that actually there was something lacking in the area for the local community.

“We came up with this idea of making a small takeaway coffee and cake place for the neighbourhood.” The cafe took around a year to construct, opening in March 2022, and is described as being a “little bit like tetris” behind the counter.

Rob said: “I’ve been here for nearly 20 years and I’ve seen a massive change in people caring. There’s a real sense of community, a real sense of neighbourhood – and hopefully this adds to it.”


Teachings in Dub – JAH SHAKA Soundsystem

Teachings in Dub – JAH SHAKA Soundsystem


Tickets here.

We couldn’t be more proud to announce the next chapter of Teachings in Dub. We have the honour of hosting the one, the only, king of sounds, the mighty JAH SHAKA! The Zulu Warrior will be heading to Bristol’s Trinity Centre on the 29th April and bringing his renowned soundsystem. Shaka has played sound system for the past 50 years, don’t miss this rare opportunity to take in this night of history!
Tickets won’t last long so don’t sleep…!

HELP – A War Child UK Benefit Concert

HELP – A War Child UK Benefit Concert

DLES, Portishead, Billy Nomates, Katy J Pearson, Heavy Lungs and Wilderman will play a one-off benefit gig for War Child.

The HELP! concert will feature an extraordinary bill of uniquely Bristolian artists – both up and coming and globally renowned – coming together to celebrate the music of the city and to raise much needed funds for Ukraine.

IDLES will be joined on the night by Portishead, unarguably one of the city’s most revered and inspirational groups. This one-off HELP! show will be their first live performance since 2015 and their only show of 2022.

Also performing on the night will be Billy Nomates, Katy J Pearson , Heavy Lungs, Willie J Healey, Wilderman and DJ Boca 45.

Proceeds raised prior to and during the six-hour special will go to War Child UK, helping them to continue their work supporting children affected by war and conflict around the world.

Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience

Holding Page – Relaunch

Take an unforgettable trip into the art and life of Vincent Van Gogh, in a way you’ve never experienced before. Proudly brought to Bristol by Propyard, Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience brings his masterpieces to life in a 360º light and sound spectacular, featuring a sound experience unique to Bristol. Join us for the internationally acclaimed experience that looks, sounds and feels like nothing else.



Nightclub appeals for support as sound complaints increase

One of Bristol’s most famous nightclubs has written an open letter to the city asking for its support.

It comes after an increase in sound complaints over the summer aimed at Motion, following buildings in the near vicinity being developed and sound travelling in new directions.

The open letter from the St Philip’s club also calls out the Green Party, claiming that they have helped to “make us the target”.

Motion hosted a number of outdoor events during the summer – photo: Motion

Here is the open letter in full:

Dear Bristol⁣

We love you dearly as a City and are proud to call you our home for the last 18 years.⁣

In recent years we have campaigned for measures that protect our venue and that of thousands of businesses across the UK.⁣

Over the last few months it would now seem we have forgotten why we live in a City and Bristol’s creative cultural importance in the UK being a side thought. ⁣

We have received some complaints regarding sound disturbance over the Summer period. ⁣

Covid has crippled us, many buildings in the area have been taken down in readiness for new developments, making the sound travel in directions unknown to us. ⁣

City centres are both noisy and vibrant, sound complaints will hinder our culture, we hope we can live together as have done for nearly 20 years.⁣

@bristolgreenparty rather than make us the target, help protect hundreds of jobs, help support Culture and please spread the Bristol vibe⁣.

Team Motion x

During the outdoor shows at Motion over the summer, Totterdown residents often took to social media to complain about the music from the club being able to be clearly heard in their homes.

The problem with noise is not just confined to the immediate vicinity, with people in Bedminster also being able to hear the club and the sound travelling as far as Hanham.

Writing on Instagram, Bristol DJ Eats Everything said: “If you decide to live in a city centre area and you buy a dwelling near a night time venue & then have the audacity to complain about noise you seriously are a fucking salad and you need to fuck off rapidly. Cities are noisy places, there is gonna be noise etc. These lame cunts are gonna be the death of us.”

Streetwear brand Concrete Junglists added: “They are the people that buy the watered down version of culture that comes out concentrated at places like this. Motion should have living cultural heritage status not have to worry about noise complaints or being shut down. They are enjoying the leaves whilst killing the roots.”