Notting Hill: A place whose fortunes have come, gone and come again...
Wilby Mews was named after Benjamin Wilby, who was involved in several 19th century development schemes.
This cobbled mews off Ladbroke Road
beside the Ladbroke Arms public house has some of the oldest mews houses in the Ladbroke area, although they have been significantly altered in most cases. The Mews was originally called Weller Mews or Weller Street Mews after the old name for that part of Ladbroke Road
(Weller was the surname of the nephew who inherited the Ladbroke Estate from Richard Ladbroke. the original owner). It seems to have changed its name around 1860, when Nos. 42-52 (evens) Ladbroke Road
were built and named Wilby Terrace.
The 1863 Ordnance Survey map shows the mews to be already almost fully built up by then, and several residents are recorded in the 1851 census returns (four coachmen, a postmaster and a cow-keeper). It seems likely that the buildings on the west side of the mews at any rate were built in the 1840s (the houses which they served in Ladbroke Grove
were built in the 1830s and 1840s). By 1861, Nos. 2-17 were all occupied, again mostly by coachman. All the buildings would have been two-storey structures, with stables and coach-houses below and accommodation for staff above. Some of the coachmen had very large families; the one living at No. 6 in 1861, for instance, had six children and the one at No. 7 had seven children and a niece living with him and his wife. As late as 1901, the residents of the mews were still mainly coachmen. Later many of the stables became garages, and it was not until the second half of the 20th century that parts of the lower floors were taken over for accommodation.
The stables were almost certainly owned or leased by the houses onto which they backed (with the coachmen working for the families).
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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.