Notting Hill

Posted on: March 23, 2018, by :

Notting Hill

Has been made famous by two things – the film ‘Notting Hill’ starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts and the perennial favourite of tourists and locals alike, Portobello Market.

Notting Hill has a checkered past. The area was earlier known as ‘Piggeries and Potteries’ for its pig farms and pottery kilns prior to the 19th century. London’s expansion westward led to the area being occupied by the upper middle class the late 19th and early 20th century. The area then began to decline and the once single-owner houses converted to smaller dwellings, largely rented out to recent West Indies migrants to UK.

Riots broke out in 1958, caused by locals refusing to live in slum like conditions. A regeneration of the area took place which improved living conditions in the area. Redevelopment and gentrification continued over the years and now the area being a highly desirable place to live and many celebrities have made Notting Hill their home. There are still a sizeable number of Caribbean community in the area, making sure that Notting Hill still retains its charm and its colour.

Portobello Road Market

The famous market has been onsite for decades, known in the early days for its antiques and rag and bone salesmen. It turned into a functional market selling food and sundries. Further gentrification of the area brings clothes and lifestyle stores, coffee and fashion chains to the area. In between these, are stalls selling tweezers, fruits, bread, meat and fish or vendors hawking crepes and churros.

It is a lot of fun to visit to soak in the buzz and atmosphere. Fridays and Saturdays are the best days to visit. For fans of Notting Hill the movie, the scenes in the film very much reflect how the real Notting Hill looked. Hugh Grant’s apartment in the film is at 280 Westbourne Park Road. The original famous blue door attracted a lot of attention, was removed and sold at auction.

There are notable street art around the area. Banksy etched one of his famous graffiti on a wall near Acklam Village north of the market. The artwork is now protected by a sheet of perspex. It could be easily missed when the market is in full swing.

True to the urban grime, a skate park had blossomed underneath a section of the A40 flyover, just north of Portobello market. It is now known as BaySixty6 Skate park and one of the premier skateboarding parks in London. It has sections for differing abilities and locker facilities.

Notting Hill Carnival

No mention of Notting Hill is complete without talking about the Notting Hill Carnival. It is one of the largest street party in Europe with parades of colourful costumes, music from huge sound systems and plenty of Afro-Caribbean food. For two days in late August, at least a million will turn up ready to party to cool tunes and feast to jerk chicken and rice and peas. It is not in the same scale as Mardi Gras but there is something joyful and celebratory as everyone join in the fun and dance in the streets.