Colville Gardens, W11

Road in/near Notting Hill, existing between 1872 and now

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Road · Notting Hill · W11 ·

Colville Gardens was laid out in the 1870s by the builder George Frederick Tippett, who developed much of the rest of the neighbourhood.

Colville Gardens 1900s
It is possible that the street was named after the Colville Family, Scottish steel magnates. The houses were intended as single family homes for the well-to-do but, from the beginning, it proved difficult to attract wealthy buyers to the area and as early as 1888, the buildings began to be subdivided into flats.

In 1885, Tippett was declared bankrupt. He attributed his failure to "his inability to let a large portion of his property and to the pressure of secured creditors". Gradually, the character of the buildings changed as wealthier tenants left the area.

By 1928, the neighbourhood was described as "rapidly becoming poorer" and, by 1935, as a "largely slum area...large houses turned into one-room tenements and small flats".

Further decline set in as residents moved away during World War II to escape The Blitz and, indeed, one of the buildings at the end of the street was destroyed by bombing, which also damaged numerous other buildings including All Saint’s Church.

The street continued to deteriorate in the 1960s and 1970s, along with the rest of Notting Hill, and the neighbourhood became notorious for the predatory business practices of slum landlord Peter Rachman.

The Notting Hill slum king Peter Rachman was dead, but as the Kensington News put it, ’now smaller property kings have mushroomed up, this evil man’s incredibly complex slum empire continues, under the guidance of his minions, and this is in 1963, when men are being shot into space.’

After the landlord of 1-9 Colville Gardens, Henry Bowen-Davies, was alleged to have used Alsatian dogs, tinkers and prostitutes ’to dislodge’ sitting tenants, Davies Investments Limited proceeded to sub-divide flats and re-let them at the same rent as the originals. The Notting Hill People’s Association was formed in 1967, when it emerged that the property company had been declared bankrupt, to force ’the need for non-profit ownership of 1-9 Colville Gardens into the consciousness of the Conservative Council.’

From the 1980s onwards, the street gentrified, reflecting the general change of Notting Hill in recent years.

1-9 Colville Gardens, formerly a notorious slum building, was rebranded as Pinehurst Court in the 1970s and now comprises around 105 one and two bedroom flats, mostly leased to private tenants on long leases of 100 years or more.

Main source: It’s Your Colville
Further citations and sources


Colville Gardens 1900s
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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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