Notting Hill has a contemporary reputation as an affluent and fashionable area; known for attractive terraces of large Victorian townhouses, and high-class shopping and restaurants (particularly around Westbourne Grove and Clarendon Cross). A Daily Telegraph article in 2004 used the phrase "The Notting Hill Set" to refer to a group of young Conservative politicians, such as leader David Cameron and shadow Chancellor George Osborne. However, the large houses have also provided multi-occupancy rentals for much of the 20th century, attracting Caribbean immigrants in the 1950s who eventually clashed with the indigenous Teddy boys in the Notting Hill race riots.
In addition, Notting Hill has had an association with artists and "alternative" culture since its development in the 1820s. There are also areas of deprivation to the north, sometimes referred to as "North Kensington", or the "Ladbroke Grove" area, from the name of the same street.
The original idea was to call the district Kensington Park, and other roads (notably Kensington Park Road and Kensington Park Gardens) are remainders of this. The local telephone prefix 7727 is based on the old telephone exchange name of PARK.
The principal architect of this plan was the Ladbroke family surveyor, Thomas Allom; and its distinctive feature was that instead of houses being set around a garden square, separated from the houses by a road around the square, houses were placed around the edge of the garden square; with the road on the other side of the house. This meant that the houses had direct access at the back to a secluded communal garden, to which people on the street did not have access; and which could not even be seen from the street (mostly). These communal gardens continue to provide the area with much of its attraction for the richest householders.
In 1837 the Hippodrome racecourse was laid out. The racecourse ran around the hill, and bystanders were expected to watch from the summit of the hill. However, it was not a success as it became waterlogged, and was closed in 1841, after which houses were built on the site. The crescent shaped roads which circumvent the hill (Blenheim Crescent, Elgin Crescent, Stanley Crescent, Cornwall Crescent, Landsdowne Crescent), were built over the circular racecourse tracks.
The Notting Hill houses were large, but they did not immediately succeed in enticing the very richest Londoners, who tended to live closer to the centre of London in Mayfair or Belgravia. Rather, the houses appealed to the upper middle class, who could live there in Belgravia style at lower prices. In the opening chapter of John Galsworthy's Forsyte Saga novels, he housed the Nicholas Forsytes "in Ladbroke Grove, a spacious abode and a great bargain".
By the 1980s, single-occupation houses began to return to favour with families who could afford to occupy them, and parts of Notting Hill are among London's most desirable areas. The parts of Notting Hill near Holland Park are characterised by well-maintained stucco-fronted pillar-porched houses, private gardens, communal gardens, access to the public parks at Holland Park and Kensington Gardens, and smart shops. The area's newer, wealthy residents are satirised in Rachel Johnson's 2006 novel Notting Hell, which is set in grand houses surrounding a fictional communal garden.
Notting Hill features as a backdrop to novels by G. K. Chesterton (The Napoleon of Notting Hill), Colin Macinnes (Absolute Beginners), Michael Moorcock (the Jerry Cornelius quartet) and Alan Hollinghurst (The Line of Beauty). The area is also the setting of the 1965 Richard Lester movie The Knack …and How to Get It, as well as Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg's 1968 film Performance starring Mick Jagger.
There are three tube stations in the area: Westbourne Park; Ladbroke Grove; Notting Hill Gate.
Ladbroke Grove tube station was called Notting Hill when it opened in 1864. The name was changed in 1919 to avoid confusion with the new Notting Hill Gate station.
The psychedelic rock band Hawkwind formed here in 1969,, later working with fantasy author Michael Moorcock who then was a resident. The Deviants and Pink Fairies were musical groups out of the Ladbroke Grove UK Underground Community, from which a number of bands would emerge, influenced by anarchistic singer/writer Mick Farren. Punk group The Clash also formed locally in 1976. The Roughler emerged in the 1980s and 1990s to chronicle the antics of the more Bohemian residents, including the legendary Portobello Pantos.
In 1999, 31 people died in the Ladbroke Grove rail crash.
Westbourne Grove is a retail road running across Notting Hill from Kensington Park Road in the west to Queensway in the east, crossing over Portobello Road. It contains a mixture of independent and chain retailers,, and has been termed both "fashionable" and "up-and-coming".
The Notting Hill Carnival passes along the central part of Westbourne Grove.
North Kensington is the key neighbourhood of Notting Hill. It is where most of the violence of the Notting Hill Race Riots race riots of 1958 occurred, where the Notting Hill Carnival started and where most of the scenes in the Notting Hill movie were shot.
Even the area’s main transport hub, Ladbroke Grove tube station, was originally called Notting Hill from its opening in 1864 until 1919. The name was changed then to avoid confusion with the new Notting Hill Gate station.
Estate agents now call the super-rich area to the south Notting Hill; they are in fact referring to the neighbourhoods of Notting Hill Gate and Holland Park.
North Kensington was once an area well-known for its slum housing, as documented in the photographs of Roger Maine Yet property prices have now reached dizzying heights as hordes of international investment bankers buy up the stuccoed Victorian houses.
However, North Kensington still has high levels of poverty and unemployment and a high-proportion of social (taxpayer-subsidised) housing for rent. This means that it retains the cultural and class mix which has always made it a vigorous, exciting and, at times, dangerous neighbourhood.
Waves of immigrants have arrived for at least a century including, but certainly not limited to, the Irish, the Jews, the West Indians, the Spanish, the Moroccans and many from the Horn of Africa and Eastern Europe. This constant renewal of the population makes the area one of the most cosmopolitan in the world.
Though Ladbroke Grove is the area’s main thoroughfare, its best known street is Portobello Road with its street market. Many locals say that Golborne Road, at the northern end of Portobello Road, is a good representation of what Portobello Road was like before companies like Starbucks and American Apparel colonised Portobello.
Notting Hill Carnival is an annual event which takes place each August, over two days (Sunday and the following bank holiday). It has continuously taken place on the streets of Notting Hill since 1965. It is led by members of the Caribbean population, many of whom have lived in the area since the 1950s. The carnival has attracted up to 1.5 million people in the past, putting it among the largest street festivals in Europe.
It attracted press attention in 1976 for clashes with the police, which continued for several years. More recently however Carnival has been seen as a peaceful event, and attracts press attention for the attendance figures.
As the event grew, concerns about the size of the event prompted Ken Livingstone to set up a Carnival Review Group to look into "formulating guidelines to safeguard the future of the Carnival. An interim report by the review resulted in a change to the route in 2002. When the full report was published in 2004, it was recommended that Hyde Park be used as a "savannah"; though this move has attracted some concern that the Hyde Park event may overshadow the original street carnival.
In 2003 Carnival was run by a limited company, the Notting Hill Carnival Trust Ltd. A report by the London Development Agency on the 2002 Carnival estimated that the event contributes around £93 million to the London and UK economy.
The riot is thought to have started on 20 August when a gang of white youths attacked a white Swedish woman, Majbritt Morrison, who was married to a West Indian man. Later that night a mob of 300 to 400 white people, many of them "Teddy Boys", were seen on Bramley Road attacking the houses of West Indian residents.
The disturbances, rioting and attacks continued every night until they finally petered out by 5 September.
THINGS YOU DON'T KNOW ABOUT... NOTTING HILL; This Month London's Notting Hill Graces Our TV Screens as the Backdrop for Channel 4's Latest Reality Show Which Follows the Lives of Ten of Its Residents. Here's a Behind-the-Scenes Guide to the Area
Sep 26, 2010; notting Hillbillies have been around for 1,300 years The name notting Hill is of Saxon origin. In around 700AD the...