Bulmer Mews, W11

Road in/near Notting Hill, existing between the 1850s and now

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Road · Notting Hill · W11 ·

Bulmer Mews is a tiny mews behind Notting Hill Gate.

Nos 1 and 2 Bulmer Mews in 2008.
The entrance to this mews is to the right of the Prince Albert pub in Pembridge Road. It runs down the backs of numbers 1-7 (odds) Ladbroke Road and presumably served as stabling for these and for the pub. It was probably first built up in the late 1840s or 1850s, and its original name may have been Victoria Mews – although it is already shown as a nameless alley on the 1862-5 Ordnance Survey map. By the time of the 1881 census, it had been named or renamed Prince Albert Mews or Albert Mews, a name it retained until into the 1930s, presumably because of its proximity to the Prince Albert pub. It seems then to have been renamed Bulmer Mews by association with nearby Bulmer Place, a road which ran roughly where the service road now is for the shops on the north-west side of Notting Hill Gate (and which disappeared in the great 1950s redevelopment of Notting Hill Gate).

Bulmer Place originally had two entrances, both through archways. One was in Pembridge Road down the south side of the Prince Albert (where the lorries now turn in to service the shops on the north-west side of Notting Hill Gate). A branch of the mews then turned south to emerge into Notting Hill Gate roughly where the current tower block is.

The original buildings consisted of stables with living premises above. The 19th century census returns list seven or eight dwellings in the mews, mostly occupied by people associated with horses in one way or another – there were several grooms or coachmen; an omnibus horsekeeper; a dealer in horses; and in 1901 a fruiterer’s carman and a draper’s carman.

As the motor car replaced horse-drawn transport, the mews probably lost some of its residents, and became a fairly scruffy place. By the 1930s it appears to have been considered ripe for redevelopment, as in 1936 a planning application was made to develop both the Mews and 1-7 Ladbroke Road as a theatre. The application was granted, but the scheme did not go ahead. During the Second World War, an overground air raid shelter was erected in the mews, and after the war Kensington Public Library used this structure for a local branch, the Bulmer Mews Library. The library remained there until 1955, when the old air raid shelter was demolished.

Any buildings that remained were by this time probably in a pretty parlous condition. Already in 1946, when the brewery that owned the Prince Albert applied to Kensington Borough Council for planning permission to use part of the mews for offices and warehouses, a Council planning officer commented that it would involve pulling down “three or four very dilapidated stables with flats over, which are at present unfit for habitation”. Ownership of the mews seems to have been shared by then between the brewery (which owned the entrance to the Mews) and the playwright Ashley Duke of the Mercury Theatre (he was the husband of Dame Marie Rambert, whose eponymous ballet company was based at the Mercury). Duke had another go in 1975 at obtaining planning permission for a theatre, this time as part of a six-story office block. But his application was refused and for much of the next nine years a garden centre occupied the Mews.

The Mercury Theatre finally sold the mews “to alleviate financial pressures”, and in 1984 the new owner finally obtained permission to build the current mews houses.

Main source: Ladbroke Association
Further citations and sources


Nos 1 and 2 Bulmer Mews in 2008.
User unknown/public domain


Notting Hill

Notting Hill: A place whose fortunes have come, gone and come again...

Notting Hill is a cosmopolitan district known as the location for the annual Notting Hill Carnival, and for being home to the Portobello Road Market.

The word Notting might originate from a Saxon called Cnotta with the =ing part indicating "the place inhibited by the people of" - i.e. where Cnotta’s tribe lived. There was a farm called variously "Knotting-Bernes,", "Knutting-Barnes" or "Nutting-barns" and this name was transferred to the hill above it.

The area remained rural until the westward expansion of London reached Bayswater in the early 19th century. The main landowner in Notting Hill was the Ladbroke family, and from the 1820s James Weller Ladbroke began to undertake the development of the Ladbroke Estate. Working with the architect and surveyor Thomas Allason, Ladbroke began to lay out streets and houses, with a view to turning the area into a fashionable suburb of the capital (although the development did not get seriously under way until the 1840s). Many of these streets bear the Ladbroke name, including Ladbroke Grove, the main north-south axis of the area, and Ladbroke Square, the largest private garden square in London.

The original idea was to call the district Kensington Park, and other roads (notably Kensington Park Road and Kensington Park Gardens) are reminders of this. The local telephone prefix 7727 (originally 727) is based on the old telephone exchange name of PARk.

The reputation of the district altered over the course of the 20th century. As middle class households ceased to employ servants, the large Notting Hill houses lost their market and were increasingly split into multiple occupation.

For much of the 20th century the large houses were subdivided into multi-occupancy rentals. Caribbean immigrants were drawn to the area in the 1950s, partly because of the cheap rents, but were exploited by slum landlords like Peter Rachman, and also became the target of white racist Teddy Boys in the 1958 Notting Hill race riots.

Notting Hill was slowly gentrified from the 1980s onwards now has a contemporary reputation as an affluent and fashionable area; known for attractive terraces of large Victorian townhouses, and high-end 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 emerging Conservative politicians, such as David Cameron and George Osborne, who were once based in Notting Hill.

Since it was first developed in the 1830s, Notting Hill has had an association with artists and ’alternative’ culture.
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