Luxurious sewers

The effluent society

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Article · Notting Hill · W11 ·

The effluent society

Although the march of new housing was approaching North Kensington by the 1820s, there was a serious practical impediment to development. The upper classes no longer expected to throw their human and household waste out of the windows, or into local streams. Closed sewers were an essential requirement for a successful building enterprise, but they were expensive to create.

However, a piece of good fortune came along. In 1836 the Birmingham Bristol and Thames Junction Railway was set up to provide a railway line between Willesden and the Thames. Railways were the “internet bubble” of the age and started up and went bust in rapid succession. The proposed route ran just to the west of the Norland Estate and through the Holland Estate near Addison Road. This happened to be the route of Counter’s Creek, a stream which served as the local sewer and rubbish dump. The Commissioners of Sewers insisted the railway company had to divert the stream and build a covered sewer further east, and Lord Holland refused to sell them the land they needed unless they agreed to it.

The company had to submit. The new sewer was built in 1838-9 along the line of the future St Ann’s Road, St Ann’s Villas and the Royal Crescent on the Norland Estate and down through the centre of the Holland Estate.

For Lord Holland and the Vulliamy family, the infrastructure for future development was provided free of charge. This would greatly increase the ability to develop the area, because the developers would be spared the cost of putting in the sewers.

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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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