|The WORLD PSYCHEDELIC CENTRE was set up in a flat on Pont Street in
Knightsbridge and run - into the ground, eventually - by Michael
Hollingshead, father of comedian Vanessa Hollingshead. Michael appears to
have had some problems as a child in Darlington and was sent away to Red Hill
School, but Vanessa is unaware of the details.
While he was working in New York in the early 60s, at the Institute for
Cultural Exchange, Michael obtained a batch of Sandoz acid through Dr John
Beresford. He mixed it with icing sugar in a large jar, tried it, had a two-day
long trip on the roof, then contacted Aldous Huxley, who suggested he should go
to see Leary at Harvard to decide what to do next.
After some interesting experiences with Leary and friends Michael was
despatched to Britain to set up the WPC in Pont Street, where he entertained the
rich and influential with grapes laced with LSD in a quintessentially hippie
ambience - lamps, cushions, wall hangings and posters. Leary supplied the
Joe Mellen told me it was all a bit too much for him and he preferred the more
laid back atmosphere at Cadogan Lane where he shared a flat with Michael
Michael Hollingshead could not handle the pace and took heroin to slow things
down. In the end the WPC fell apart, not least because of a raid by The People
newspaper, and subsequent damning article:
"We have obtained evidence of "LSD parties" being held in London. We have discovered an alarming
group of people who are openly and blatantly spreading the irresponsible use of this terrible drug.
These men run what they call the Psychedelic Centre... Amongst the Centre's activities is the
publication of a handbook called A Psychedelic Manual... Recommending group sessions of drug-
taking, the writer says: 'A person should approach the experience with love and trust in the
company of those he trusts.' A psychedelic experience lasts normally from eight to sixteen hours …
but the results may last from several days to several months. 'The voyager should set aside at least
two days for the experience itself.' This is irresponsible, dangerous gibberish. The Centre was deserted
and in a state of considerable chaos when our investigators gained entry on Thursday. There were
used hypodermic syringes, empty drug ampoules and a variety of pills. Among the litter of papers
were dozens of phone numbers, some of them of well-known show-business stars and personalities."
Michael is said to have died in Bolivia in the 80s.