Colville Terrace, W11

Road in/near Notting Hill, existing between 1865 and now

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Road · Notting Hill · W11 ·
July
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2015

Colville Terrace, W11 has strong movie connnections.

Colville Terrace 1900s
Colville Terrace began the 20th century well-to-do but some time before World War Two the houses became multi-occupied. The street suffered some bomb damage in the Blitz and hosted the local communists’ headquarters. In the late 50s numbers 2, 9, 10, 19, 22 and 24 were Rachman houses occupied by West Indian immigrants and prostitutes, including Majbritt Morrison who wrote the ’Jungle West 11’ book.

In the 1958 riots they became targets for the fascist-influenced local mob. In 1960 the basement of number 24 was put under police surveillance and duly established to be a brothel. Michael de Freitas, who was living on the top floor, was arrested but the police couldn’t prove he was the landlord.
Colville Terrace also hosted several West Indian blues clubs including Sheriff’s gym and the Barbadian La Paloma. In the early 70s number 42, at the east end of Powis Square, became renowned as the gay hippy commune, which was evicted and re-housed by Notting Hill Housing Trust. The Colville Nursery Pat McDonald gates are dedicated to the People’s Association community activist play worker, who was murdered by her husband.

In 1963, the year of the Profumo affair and Rachman slum housing revelations, the Colville film ’West Eleven’ was adapted by Michael Winner from ’The Furnished Room’ novel by the long-standing Portobello market trader Laura del Rio. The classic North Kensington kitchen-sink melodrama is partly set on Colville Terrace on the south side of Powis Square. Alfred Lynch stars as the archetypal local anti-hero ‘Joe Beckett’, who is offered £10,000 to commit a murder. In the opening sequence he walks through Powis Square to his bed-sit on Colville Terrace, passing the future location of Mick Jagger’s house in ’Performance’.

A young David Hemmings appears as a local hooligan in Powis Square and Diana Dors as a beat girl. Halliwell called it a ‘dingy but not very convincing ‘realist’ melodrama with jazzy style which induces weariness.’ The ’West Eleven’ theme is by the jazz clarinetist Acker Bilk and also features the jazz/skiffle trumpeter Ken Collyer. Michael Winner’s grandfather had a tailor’s shop at 167/9 Portobello Road, round the corner of Colville Terrace next to the Star bar.

The street is associated with several Michaels; as well as de Freitas/X/Abdul Malik, the Rachman associate Black Power leader, there’s Horovitz, the ongoing local beat poet; Moorcock, the sci-fantasy author Hawkwind member, and the film director Winner. The next most renowned residents after Michael X are Horovitz and Moorcock. The hippy doctor Sam Hutt-turned-alternative country and western singer Hank Wangford is another. In ’Performance’ in 1968 James Fox, as the gangster Chas, arrives on Colville Terrace on the west corner of Powis Square. In 1976 Marvin Gaye was photographed at the same place. The wall between Colville Road and Powis Square featured ‘Rachman was right’ graffiti. In 2007 the junction with Portobello Road was transformed back to the 60s for a scene in ’Hippie Hippie Shake’, the yet to be released film of the memoirs of the Oz

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Colville Terrace 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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