Walmer Road, W11

Road in/near Notting Hill, existing between the 1760s and now

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Road · Notting Hill · W11 ·
December
11
2015

Walmer Road is the oldest street in the area, dating from the eighteenth century or before.


Walmer Road started as an established footpath called Greene’s Lane and appears as such on the 1800 map of the area. It connected the Uxbridge Road (Holland Park Avenue) with one of the only buildings north of this turnpike road - Notting Barns Farm.

The soil was ideal for brickmaking and brickfields moved into the area in the first decades of the nineteenth century. Once hollowed out, these easily flooded.

Beside one such flooded brickfield, the settlement of Notting Dale was established. the main street of the small settlement, part of Greene’s Lane, became called James Street.

The manufacture of pottery appears to have been established here before 1827 by Ralph Adams (fn. 8) of Gray’s Inn Road, brick- and tilemaker, who between 1826 and 1831 was the building lessee for most of the houses in Holland Park Avenue between Ladbroke Grove and Portland Road, the earth for the bricks having been no doubt dug from the Potteries area. The ratebooks first refer to this locality as ’the Potteries’ in 1833. The tithe map of 1844 shows what appears to be a kiln on the east side of Pottery Lane near the present No. 34. The only kiln shown on the Ordnance Survey map surveyed in 1863 is that which still stands on the east side of Walmer Road opposite to Avondale Park.

James Street was renamed Walmer Road sometime in the 1850s. St. Andrew’s, was built at the corner of Walmer and Lancaster Roads in 1862.

Cholera was a constant companion. The only covered sewer in the area extended along the modern Walmer Road, but at too high a level to provide drainage for the houses there. The only possible outfall was to the main Counter’s Creek sewer, some 1,300 feet to the westward, and by September 1849 the building of a sewer was in progress.

There were improvements in other directions. As early as 1853 Mary Bayly had formed a Mothers’ Society in the Potteries, for the education of its members in the elements of hygiene, and between 1858 and 1863 the first makeshift schools in the area were replaced by permanent buildings—a ragged school, built under Lord Shaftesbury’s auspices, in Penzance Street in 1858, and St. James’s National Schools in Penzance Place in 1863. St. John’s Church was building a school on the west side of Walmer Road in 1861.

The streets were paved - Walmer Road was extending north - and taken over by the Vestry. By 1863 ’the Ocean’ (the flooded brickworks) had at last been filled in. Avondale Park was created in 1892 out of ’the Ocean’. This was part of a general clean-up of the area which had become known as the Potteries and Piggeries.

Despite the continued presence of pigs, a Dr Godrich felt able in 1869 to report that ’the Potteries are in a more cleanly and healthy condition, principally owing to the improved drainage afforded by the Metropolitan Board of Works’.

This part of Notting Dale was designated in Charles Booth’s 1902 survey as amongst London’s poorest and was long been perceived by Kensington Council as a blot on the local landscape.

By mid century it was characterised as the centre of the infamous race riots of 1958, the horrific murders in nearby Rillington Place a couple of years earlier, along with a more recent shotgun killing in Walmer Road. Its houses were in poor repair without inside sanitation or hot water.

The West Cross Route was first mooted in the 1950s as part of a projected vital major arterial road into central London from the west. The main artery was to be a four lane dual carriageway extension of the A40 beginning where the Westway met Wood Lane and ending by merging into the start of the Marylebone Road in Paddington. The road would be elevated to carry it above existing buildings so as to keep demolition of such property to a minimum. This objective was generally achieved throughout its four mile length through the capital except in the area of Notting Dale around Walmer Road which was to be the site of an access point along its route.

A new roundabout sited below the new road was necessary to facilitate vehicular access. As this roundabout was below the road a huge demolition programme was required to accommodate it which would decimate a large and densely populated part of Notting Dale completely destroying the community resident there. The roundabout was sited broadly in a square area bounded by Oldham Road to the west, Silchester Mews to the east, Walmer Road to the north and Silchester Road to the south. All these roads would disappear at least in part along with sections of Blechydon Street whilst Calverley Street, situated between Oldham Road and Silchester Mews, Silchester Terrace and Latimer Mews would disappear completely. Walmer Road was somewhat unique in that only the south side (nos 2-128) was to be demolished along with part of the north side (nos 3-49 and 103-121) leaving isolated in the middle almost an island of three blocks of the north side (nos 51-101) which would remain quite literally in the shadow of the elevated dual carriageway above.

Kensington Council viewed the construction of the West Cross Route as an ideal moment for some opportunist slum clearance though how much thought was given at the time to the fate of its occupants is extremely debatable. It may be worth noting that at this roundabout an exit was planned (and built and the spur still exists today) for a further dual carriageway to strike out northeastward to join the foot of the M1. This plan was by contrast floored by objections from residents of the adjoining St Quintins Estate and others.



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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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