The Maxilla Archive Project

Maxilla was one of the first three centres of this kind, and the only one based on community organisation. Its pioneering structure and provision have helped spread these practices in this country and abroad.



The initiative and the capabilities to create Maxilla Nursery Centre (later to become Maxilla Children’s Centre) were founded in the strong heritage of community action and voluntary organisations in North Kensington/Notting Hill. During the 1960s the local community had created numerous projects, notably Notting Hill Carnival, Notting Hill Social Council and the People’s Association, to protect and strengthen local people against the corrosive effects of poverty, poor housing conditions, exploitative landlords (‘Rachmanism’) and racial prejudice, and to help people live well together.


The building of the Westway motorway had produced local resistance, and this led to the creation of the North Kensington Amenity Trust (now Westway Trust), founded jointly by the borough council (Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea) and the local community to develop the land under the elevated road for community benefit, including the site for the Maxilla Nursery Centre.

By 1972 the local community had gained skills in organising and in collaborating with local authorities and other bodies, as well as a commitment to community empowerment.


Maxilla is a unique outcome of this heritage. It represents an outstanding example of people’s history, to be celebrated and also enlarging understanding of community action.

To meet the needs of local children living in conditions of social deprivation, and of working parents, Westway Nursery Association drew on three heritages in under 5s services: from nursery education they drew the commitment to the quality of children’s learning and development, from day care they drew the year round, full-day programme to support parents in employment and in education, and from the playgroup movement they drew on the importance of parent participation.



An interview with Jenny Williams,
Maxilla Nursery Centre founder

Excerpts from an interview on 07/02/2016 — 18min17secs
View interview summary PDF


Learn about the history of Maxilla

From the 1970s through to 2015

Content available on the Maxilla Archive website


How can you get involved?

If you have Maxilla memorabilia you would like to contribute, please click here to upload images, documents and short video clips.

If you would like to be interviewed, please contact Lisa Nash on


Thanks to all those who have volunteered time and given ‘in kind’ support including:

  • Community activists and founders of Westway Nursery Association Judy Wilcox and Mike Locke
  • Project volunteers; Cassie Norris, Johanna Li, Karolina Hardy and Naomi Honigsbaum
  • All the former children, parents, staff and community members who have shared their memories of Maxilla for the project
  • Mike Locke and Toby Laurent Belson for their reflections on community activism
  • Rozz Evans and Sarah Aitchison at the Institute of Education for advice on archiving
  • Westway Trust for administrative and media relations support
  • Golborne & Maxilla Children’s Centre
  • for website design
  • Christabel Gurney for editing the text