Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Notting Hill Gate

The Central line is the third deepest line on the Underground and here at Notting Hill Gate you need to travel up three long escalators to get to the surface.

You can also get the District and Circle line from this station but those lines run above the central line at sub-surface level.

The road the station is on is called Notting Hill Gate named from the toll gate that operated here between 1769 and 1864. The road was redeveloped in the 1950s with two large tower blocks built on either side of the road.

However, behind the main road, just a couple of hundred metres from the station are these delightful 18th cent cottages.

Just around the corner from the cottages on Uxbridge Street is this interesting looking building. I discovered that it was originally built as the Duke of Sussex Public House and then converted to Duke of Sussex studios and then the Dreamtime studios, a fine art dealer and gallery. Its new life is a three bedroomed property with a roof terrace. In 2010 this was on the market to rent for £15,167 per month!

Back on Notting Hill Gate is the Notting Hill Coronet. Previously a theatre, it was converted into a cinema in 1923. Twice it has been saved from demolition and finally its future has been secured as an independent cinema. This is not the only cinema, as nearby is The Gate which opened in 1911.

I crossed back over Notting Hill Gate. This is the view to my right looking towards Notting Hill.

Whilst the view to the left towards Holland Park is completely different
The housing in this area is well cared for and ranges from cottages to six floor mansions.

I followed Ladbroke Grove which brought me out at Ladbroke Square. In the centre of the square is the largest private communal garden in London. There are numerous communal squares in this area but all are private. So basically you need to live here to be able to use them. No sitting and having a picnic there for me.
The only view I could get was through the railings. The view from the outside gives you some idea how large this garden happens to be.

It was in 1821 that James Ladbroke and his architect began plans to build an estate in this area. However Notting Hill was too far from London for a large housing estate to be viable. Instead this site at the top of Notting Hill, where St John's Church is situated, became a viewpoint for spectators watching the horses race at Hippodrome race course. There was much local opposition to the racecourse  and it closed in 1841 by which time pressure for more housing returned and the estate was built. The hippodrome's shape can still be seen in the circular roads around the hill.

There is very little to remind us of the Hippodrome other than a couple of road names. This is Hippodrome Place. Close by on Walmer Road is one of the few examples left in London of a bottle kiln. During the 19th century this was a slum area known as 'the potteries  and piggeries' . High quality clay was dug here and used for brick making. the bricks and tiles were stored in sheds lining Pottery Lane and fired in large kilns such as the one.

As well as the brick makers a large number of pig keepers moved into the area who had been forced to move away from Marble Arch and Tottenham Court Road as London expanded. With fresh water and sanitation scarce the area soon became a slum. The pig keepers tended to live in hovels alongside their pigs.

Nowadays the houses in Pottery Lane sell for seven figure sums.

Mention Notting Hill now and people are more likely to think of the romantic comedy of the same name starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts rather than a slum area of the 19th cent.

Not far from Pottery Lane is Rosmead Garden. It is these private, communal gardens that the two main characters in the film, climb into for a romantic evening.
Unlike them I wasn't willing to climb over the railings to get a decent photo so you'll have to make do with these.

The main location for the filming of Notting Hill was Portobello Road. This road is famous for its antiques market which is one of the largest in the UK. The road runs the length of Notting Hill from North to South with shops and stalls selling not just antiques but clothes, books, vinyl records and jewellery.

As well as the antique dealers and food stalls it has its artisan bakeries,  coffee shops and restaurants. But the most surprising feature for me was the colourful houses. Similar houses around Queensway and Lancaster Gate are all painted white, but here they range from delicate pastel shades to vibrant primary colours.

The blue circular plaque on this house tells us that George Orwell(1903-1950) the author lived here.

Lots of colourful characters to be seen as well.

This is the Electric Cinema. It first opened on Portobello Road in 1910 and has been in almost continual use since,  making it one of the oldest working cinemas in the country.

Notting Hill is also famous for its Carnival. Held every year for two days during the August Bank holiday it is now the biggest street carnival in the world. During those two days this year over 2,000,000 people visited the streets around Portobello Road and Ladbrook Grove to watch the carnival parades and enjoy the music and food. There is much discussion about whether or not it should continue in the confined space of the streets or whether it should be moved to one of the large parks. The history of the Carnival began with Claudia Jones in 1959 who organised an annual carnival in St Pancras Town Hall in response to the 1958 August Bank Holiday Notting Hill riots.  The carnival took to the streets for the first time in 1968.

Walking back to the tube station along Colville Road I came across Turquoise Island, a traffic island, surrounded by three roads with their colourful shops.

The original council plans for this traffic island did not impress local resident, John Scott so he commissioned modernist architect Piers Gough to design a structure that would incorporate public toilets, a kiosk style shop, a clock and somewhere for people to sit. Built in 1993 it is half toilet and half florist, clad in bright turquoise tiles with a beautiful fan like canopy.


  1. The estate would be wonderful to tour. Notting Hill...all I can think of is the movie now.

    Great photos and loved reading the narration.

  2. Well I have been to the station though not round Notting Hill itself. Nice to see where George Orwell lived once, he's buried not far from where I live.

  3. There is much to be seen in Notting Hill. I am not sure I really like the coloured houses, certainly not the jarring colours. I see there is the occasional rebellious type who has a white house. I quite like the florist/toilet. I suppose even the small cottages are out of our league.

  4. It's good those 18th century houses are still there and in good condition - hopefully they look just as good inside too :-)

  5. The bright colors surprised me! Beautiful and interesting neighborhood.

  6. Hi Fun 60. You seem to know this "trendy" area well. Lots of famous names and places appeared in your narrative but you didn't show us any of the infamous residents. Very good pictures and welcome views of London.


Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my blog.