Notting Hill: A place whose fortunes have come, gone and come again...
Elgin Crescent runs from Portobello Road
west across Ladbroke Grove
and then curls round to the south to join Clarendon Road
East of Ladbroke Grove
, it was originally called Elgin Road with the middle section Surrey Gardens and the rest, Arundel Road.
West of Ladbroke Grove
, it was originally numbered from 1-36 consecutive on the northern side, starting at the western end (so the present No. 120 was No. 1) and from 37-81 consecutive on the southern side starting at the eastern end (so the present No. 63 was No. 37). The street was officially renumbered in 1880.
The section between Portobello Road
and Kensington Park Road
consists of shops and cafes; the rest of the street is residential. It is intersected by Ladbroke Grove
and further along, the southern side is broken by Rosmead Road
. Many houses back on to communal gardens. The odd numbers are on the south side and the even on the north. From Ladbroke Grove
west the Crescent is lined intermittently with mature and some new trees. Lamp posts are in the Victorian style.
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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.