Rackham Street, eastern end (1950)
Image dated 1870
Print-friendly version of this page North Kensington lies either side of Ladbroke Grove, W10.
The bombing of the Second World War meant that some whole streets were wiped off the future map. Rackham Street
, in London W10, was one of them.
This photo shows the corner of Ladbroke Grove
looking west down Rackham Street
just after the end of the Second World War. Just beyond the Rootes advert was the local doctor's surgery. (Rootes, an auto manufacturor, was taken over by Chrysler long after the war.) Beyond the surgery, the houses - three floors and a basement flat, would generally house four or more families each.
During the night of 27/8 September 1940, after Nazi incendiary bombs, the central part of Rackham Street
become a huge crater (though only one person was killed).
As the Luftwaffe aimed for the railway line and gas works, the nearby Princess Louise Hospital
was also bombed three times and around a hundred incendiaries hit the St Charles convent and grounds.
In the early 1950s, the rest of Rackham Street
was demolished to make way for the Balfour of Burleigh estate. Rackham Street
left no trace - not even a name.
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On Ladbroke Grove looking west down Rackham Street in the late 1930s.
Kensington and Chelsea Public Library.
North Kensington was rural until the 19th century, when it was developed as a suburb with quite large homes. By the 1880s, too many houses had been built for the upper-middle class towards whom the area was aimed. Large houses were divided into low cost flats which often degenerated into slums, as documented in the photographs of Roger Mayne.
During the 1980s, the area started to be gentrified although areas in the north west of the district at Ladbroke Grove
and Westbourne Park remain deprived and run down to this day.
Waves of immigrants have arrived for at least a century including, but certainly not limited to, the Spanish, the Irish, the Jews, the West Indians, the Portuguese, 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 London.
The Notting Hill carnival was first staged in 1964 as a way for the local Afro-Caribbean communities to celebrate their own cultures and traditions. After some rough times in the 1970s and 1980s when it became associated with social protest, violence and huge controversy over policing tactics, this is now Europe’s largest carnival/festival event and a major event in the London calendar. It is staged every August over the Bank holiday weekend.