Pottery Lane, W11

Pottery Lane takes its name from the brickfields which were situated at the northern end of the street.

The local soil was stiff clay and after 1818, the clay begun to be dug out here and used for brickmaking to supply London’s growing suburbs. Bricks and tiles were stored in sheds lining Pottery Lane and were fired in large kilns. Parts of the diggings flooded and a particular area became known as ’The Ocean’. Rubbish and effluent ended up here and it was bounded by dangerous walkways. Over the years, many drowned there.

Roughly at the same time as the brickmaking took off, pig keepers moved into the area. They had been evicted by their landlord from the Tottenham Court Road area and settled here. Many of those families lived together with the pigs in their houses.

As the area thus became a slum known as either The Potteries or The Piggeries. Conditions in Pottery Lane became so bad it became known as Cut Throat Lane.

On Sundays, there was cockfighting, bull-baiting and the killing of rats by dogs to amuse the residents.

An entrepreneur John Whyte built a racecourse known as the Hippodrome in 1837. This only lasted until 1842 as a public footpath leading from Pottery Lane crossed the racecourse. The fashionable aims of the racecourse were scuppered by this public access.

By the mid 1840s, life expectancy in the area was 11 years 7 months, compared with the London average of 37. In 1856, a medical officer described the area as "one of the most deplorable spots, not only in Kensington, but in the whole metropolis".

Pigs gradually disappeared later in the 19th century and new building improved the housing. Churches and public schools - including both Harrow and Rugby - established missions to help the poor.

Around the turn of the twentieth century, part of Pottery Lane was rebranded Portland Place for a time. In 1892, ’The Ocean’ was filled and covered. It is now Avondale Park.

Pottery Lane became richer in the late 20th century along with the rest of the Notting Hill area - today the houses fetch multi-million pound prices.

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