Vernon Yard, W11

Road in/near Notting Hill, existing between 1853 and now

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Road · Notting Hill · W11 ·
Vernon Yard is a mews off of Portobello Road.

Graffiti at Virgin Records Vernon Yard 1977
The name Portobello Road derived from the 1739 capture of Puerto Bello in Central America from the Spaniards by Admiral Vernon (1684-1757) with only six ships.

Vernon Yard is similarly named - it was known as Vernon Mews until 1932. It is a small L-shaped mews with its entrance under an archway between 117 and 119 Portobello Road. The terrace of houses in Portobello Road that backs onto the mews was originally called Vernon Terrace, and the mews served these houses.

Vernon Yard would have been built at the same time as Vernon Terrace, in the first half of the 1850s. The 1863 Ordnance Survey map shows two numbered units (Nos. 1 and 2) at the southern end of Vernon Yard; a further eight units (Nos. 3-10) along the western side) and one (No. 11) at the northern end. These were almost certainly stable blocks with accommodation above. On the eastern side, the map shows a number of unnumbered units which were probably warehouses or stabling belonging to the adjoining Portobello Road houses.

The 1871 census shows only three families living in the mews – a labourer and laundress with seven children at No. 7; a coachman at No. 9; and a carman at No. 11. The 1901 census shows only two families, at Nos. 9 and 11 (the heads of family being respectively a carman and a general dealer), and there is a note to say that “all other stabling in Vernon Mews has been converted into hay and store storage”.

The buildings in Vernon Yard continued to be largely used as warehousing or garages until the 1960s. In 1964, there was only one resident, living in a small flat above a garage at No. 1. Planning documents described the mews as “a mixture of dilapidated 2-storey properties which are used for storage purposes. Nos. 5, 6 and 7 are a builder’s store and workshop. … Nos. 2 and 3 were recently used in part as a wholesale grocery store, but have otherwise been used as a corn merchants”. The builder at Nos. 5, 6 and 7 was S. Nash and Son, who moved there when their lease of the premises that they had occupied 100 Kensington Park Road for the previous 90 years came to an end in 1967 (it is now part of Waterford House). They remained there until about 1990 and were presumably responsible for remodelling the premises to form the present striking building.

Text courtesy of Elaine Spencer Hopkins.

Main source: Old Notting Hill/North Ken History
Further citations and sources


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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