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It is quite hard to believe that one of London’s most fashionable areas was described as “a massive slum, full of multi-occupied houses, crawling with rats and rubbish” only 50 years ago – definitely a no-go area. Such an place would not have warranted a second glance by London’s hip and famous, let alone have inspired a film starring a bumbling Englishman and a starry American actress (if they did indeed made such films 50 years ago). Kensington and Chelsea – the London borough in which Notting Hill is located – has long been one of the most expensive parts of the entire UK, yet Notting Hill was thought of as the “bad part”. In the past 40 or so years it has seen a massive transformation to the status it holds today.

Two centuries ago, the area was little more than wasteland. It was only in 1840 that the area became more residential with the construction of the Ladbroke and Norland estates. At that time, Notting Hill was either known as the Potteries (because of the nearby pottery works) or the Piggeries (after the three-to-one ratio of pigs to people – how glam!). These large houses were carved up into multiple dwellings, and after World War II the area worsened to become slums.

Notting Hill also became home to a large number of Afro-Caribbean immigrants after World War II, and racial tension often arose – Britain’s first race riots occurred in the area in August 1958. However, the following year the Notting Hill Carnival emerged as a unofficial reply to the riots; by 1965 it took to the streets and has grown every year since. Its presence in the last weekend of August sees around one million people joining the party, backing up the claim that it is the world’s biggest street festival outside Rio. Although the carnival has seen some trouble in the past, it is a relatively safe event now. Aside from carnival weekend, Notting Hill is a rather quiet area for most of the year. The exception to this is Saturdays when Portobello Market is jam-packed with visitors hunting through the antiques market.

History of Notting Hill from Wikipedia
Virtual Museum – History of Kensington & Chelsea
Fascinating pages from the official council website
British History Online
Fantastic seachable directory


  • Joanna
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 7:00 am


  • Born in Nottinghill
    Posted May 3, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    Please check out my facebook page ‘Born & Bred in Nottinghill’

    • Post Author
      Posted May 7, 2013 at 11:46 am

      Very nice page! Good luck with it!

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  • Hazzy
    Posted January 12, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    This is helping me with my geography homework! Thanks! x

  • Richard Coward
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 11:13 am

    I thought you might be interested to watch the film, which shows how a group of passionate social reformers set about tackling the appalling housing conditions found in Notting Hill in the mid-1960s. Their vision led to the formation of Notting Hill Housing, an organisation which for the past 50 years has worked to provide decent and affordable homes for people in the area and beyond. Here’s the link:

    • Post Author
      Posted March 11, 2014 at 4:02 pm

      Hi Richard, thanks very much for posting this link, it’s a fascinating video. I’d really like to feature the video in its post so more people may see it – may I do this? Thanks, Anna

      • Richard
        Posted March 15, 2014 at 10:09 am

        Hi Anna, yes of course. Best wishes, Richard

    • Anonymous
      Posted August 27, 2014 at 6:56 pm

      I enjoyed the film immensely. I don’t live in London but visit quite often, my next visit being scheduled for the end of September. I shall be spending some time in Bayswater and Notting Hill. I shall have a different perspective having watched the film.

      Robert Moore

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