Tuesday, 1 September 2020

London Visits pre lockdown, Portobello and Ladbroke Estate memories … part 4 …



Next I was off on a memory lane journey … but the brain intervened so a little more history is added in …

Portobello Lane - c 1900

… and have noted that it is the final day of the virtual 2020 Notting Hill Festival  … good timing?!  Well other things happened so here we are a day later ... 


Also just to muddle me and you … I see the route of the Notting Hill Carnival now passes along ‘my street’ - when it's not virtual!


Arundel Gardens - I lived in a flat in about the middle
of the left terrace ... these trees are 'new'  ...
comparing the picture below the trees were probably
put in for the Millennium
Back in January this year I had to get to Portobello Road, Notting Hill tube station, to walk down to my flat where I lived for a few years in the 1970s – including the very hot summer of 1976: 



I remember it well … as I’ve just wilted here in 2020!



Depiction of the Hyde Park toll - further west ...
the area was distinctly in the hands of the highwayman


Mid 1700s – the Notting Hill turnpike toll-gate was established on the main Oxford to London road at the junction with Portobello Lane …



… a lane running north from the gravel pits of Kensington to the open country and manorial lands granted in the 11th century … it was through wooded pasture dotted with farming settlements …


… I saw this description on the speculative development of the Ladbroke Estate for most of the 1800s:


“it was like the Wild West, a tangled web of capitalism with developers going bankrupt, buying land off each other … swapping land parcels etc …”


Depiction of The Great Exhibition
opened by Queen Victoria in 1851
There was one saving grace – the Ladbroke Estate had been planned and enacted – which fortunately was never abandoned.  It appears that The Great Exhibition of 1851 ...



The Crystal Palace being opened
by Queen Victoria in 1851
... and the erection of the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park had encouraged the start of urban-growth westwards.





Notting Hill Hippodrome - the
area where the horses would be
stabled and looked after -
often in filthy conditons ... 
Early in the 17th century it was run down being occupied chiefly by labourers, horse-keepers and horse-feeders, with a shifting mass of sorry folk who had come down in the world – the degraded conditions of the late 1800s were ripe for cleaning up



The eastern part (Portobello side) was developed, but the western part was really run down into the 1900s …


Portobello Lane to the right (east) of
the Hippodrome - 1841 - showing
no development at all ... within one hundred
years it was completely urbanised
In the late 1830s the hills of Notting Dale were transformed into a race course – hence the ultimate layout of the western part of the Ladbroke Estate following the curves and contours of the race course – known as the Hippodrome – more in the next post …




The race course failed … the heavy clay soil proved unsuitable for racing … but speculative land development was there for the taking, or losing, and retaking … as the needs of the local population dictated.



Booklet I've kept - a Brief Survey of the
origin, development administration of our
communal Garden within the Ladbroke Estate
In 1851 when the Estate was established, thirty communal gardens were to be maintained, and around which substantial Victorian houses were to be built.  Fifteen of the gardens now lie within the Ladbroke Estate Conservation Area … Arundel and Ladbroke Gardens being one of them …




You can just see he three bedroom
windows at the very top - that's
where I lived.
The houses after World War II were pretty grim (apparently!) and were mostly rooming houses … not lived in by one family.   Here a woman who lived in a 2nd floor bedsit in 1952 in the middle of the terrace – not quite my house – but near enough … describes the state of the area … I must have looked out over the plane tree she mentions.




Here’s her quote – pertinent to the times – twenty + years later when I arrived it had been upgraded into the 20th century – I’m glad to say!


“It was slummy, full of studenty types like me. I never went in the garden, but I loved the big plane tree I could see from my window. Inside the house was dark with dirty paintwork. I don’t remember a bathroom. My room had a gas ring and a basin. I wasn’t there much. The landlady insisted on opening the front door to make sure no unauthorised men were getting in”.


What I would describe as a 'card-house' more recently built
on the top of some flats in Eastbourne - not Notting Hill
My flat at the top – was an added floor … so I refer to it as my card-house flat – in those days there was no lift … a good walk up for the views – and yes it did have a bathroom and indoor toilet!


I spent four years there… one of which 1976: was as stinking hot as it has been recently … I was working three jobs … and playing squash – just assumed it would rain sometime and cool off … it didn’t and as far as I was concerned it was six months without any rain.  I went to Wimbledon one evening– sat in the sun I remember … and wilted …



This shows all the development that took place
in that 130 years from 1840 to as here in 1972: an
established series of roads, properties, gardens -
the hippodrome extends further west (left)
When I left there … I went off to South Africa … and had never explored the western parts of the Hippodrome area … it hadn’t been on my radar …


Interestingly further to the west the area now looked in better condition – the ups and downs of urban life …




The original Paddington Bear -
with a green hat (1972)
Another well-known resident was Paddington Bear – he resided with his owner Michael Bond and his wife at no 39 … the flat rent was about 25 shillings a week … they usually bought their food from local traders in Portobello market. 




Looking eastwards - with my flat
this time on the right; this photo taken
in 2010 - shows the young trees
The next post will cover the western parts – which didn’t go upmarket til recently – perhaps in the last thirty years …




It just amazes me how things change in quite a short time-frame … i.e. my lifetime!


Next we go west to look at piggeries, potteries, dovecotes and the Hippodrome …


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

44 comments:

Inger said...

Hilary, this was a wonderful trip down memory lane for me too. I have never lost my love of London, it's a very special place, a place where I sort of grew up, had to be totally responsible for myself,make my own decisions, have my own adventures. I lived there much longer than the vicarage months, for almost three years. So the city became an important aspect of my young life.

How great that you actually lived in the city Thanks for this post, I'm looking forward to more.

I wonder if the Stockholm history we talked about would be as interesting to anyone but an urban planner.

Chatty Crone said...

I have heard of the famous Notting Hill area. Thanks for the history lesson. I am in awe of you and your knowledge.

John Holton said...

I've heard the name "Notting Hill" often. There was the movie with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, The Notting Hillbillies (a country band headed by Mark Knofler), and a song "The Notting Hill Two-Step" by Acoustic Alchemy. I got the impression from the movie that it was a pretty upscale place, maybe having undergone gentrification (where the old residents are forced out by wealthy young people, who then clean up the area while housing prices skyrocket). Nice to actually learn something about it.

Never heard the term "bedsit" before; it sounds like what we call a studio apartment, maybe without a bathroom and kitchenette. I get that right?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Inger – that’s great … that these are taking you down your memory lane – and you’ll relate to the areas I mention. I must have only been in London for six years before I set off for South Africa, down south – while you carried on westwards.

I’m sure the Stockholm history would interest people … it’s keeping it interesting that’s the main thing … but I can’t talk here – as this post was quite long. I always add in as many photos as I can … so I think you should go for the history – it’ll bring back memories for you … and we’ll enjoy it …

@ Sandie – thank you … I just have an interest and this was a nostalgic wander … the rest of the parts are/will be to exhibitions.

@ John – thought I’d better come and answer your comment … Notting Hill movies are about Notting Hill – but they’re 20 or 25 years old, and I was there 20 years before that … so lots changed in those time frames.

I was a bit further north from the main Notting Hill road, which wasn’t so posh, and the main road had huge houses on it. The area had had its ups and downs and I’ve tried to describe here … 1840s no development; further west it was slums – pigs and stables; then the Ladbroke Estate was established (1851) with the streets and housing laid out as one of my photos shows (not very well, I know). My street was built in 1862/3 … and some houses were occupied, then they were subdivided … not sure over the two wars – but after WW2 as I’ve described – by the woman who looked out over ‘my plane tree’!

A bedsit today is a bed sitting room – one person occupancy – sharing a bathroom and kitchen areas … which becomes a multiple occupancy house.

Thanks for the comments – glad I’ve generated some interest … and I hope I’ve answered the questions sufficiently clearly …

Stay safe and take care - Hilary

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Quite a memory if you remember the heat of 1976!
Cool the event will pass down your street when it's live again.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

What an amazing bit of reporting, Hilary. It must have been quite fascinating to have made this walk down memory lane, and it is really significant that it has not changed beyond recognition as is so often the case in recent times. At some point you must have asked yourself if it had really been over forty years! I have visited London a few times but can claim no familiarity with it, but I am certain that for you, it will eternally remain a very special place, perhaps the epicentre of the universe even. I have more no acquaintance with Paris than I do with London, yet if any two cities are attached to their residents by an unbreakable umbilical, London and Paris are they.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

PS - I have noticed that your blog profile still has you living in Victoria, BC. I know that changed some time ago, but we would be very pleased to have you back!

Elephant's Child said...

I always enjoy wandering with you - and to wander through your memories is no exception.
Paddington Bear is very dear to me. I have a number of Michael Bond's books about him, and still reread them from time to time.
“it was like the Wild West, a tangled web of capitalism with developers going bankrupt, buying land off each other … swapping land parcels etc …” True then, and too often true now.

Botanist said...

I've heard often enough of Notting Hill, but realized as I read your informative post that I had no idea whereabouts in London it was. Until I looked it up on Google Maps just now.

And I remember the summer of 76, too. I was still at school, so had weeks of free time that summer. I well remember water restrictions, and self-imposed measures like saving washing-up water to use to flush the toilets with.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Alex – yes lots of memories of time in London … and it was HOT! Well if I still lived there … it’d be great to have direct access to the Carnival floats … sadly I don’t – still the seaside is lovely too …

@ David – thank you … I was tired of walking by the time I’d got here and I had a lot of places to get to … but it was fun writing up about the area. I know it’s over 40 years ago … I get lost!

Also recently … so much has happened in the Notting Hill area … but in fact I’m umbilically tied in to Cornwall, if anywhere … yet then of course there are my early years in Surrey, and then South Africa … and other places I’ve lived in … I’ve never lived in Paris … but I’m sure I’d get hooked in there … I enjoyed Canada – and would have loved to have seen more.

Thank you re the ‘about’ … I’m sure I changed that when I got back – so am somewhat surprised … but tomorrow I’ll check properly again …

@ EC – thank you … this trip was a real wander. I watched Paddington 2 last night …so this post didn’t get put up until today. I hate to say I haven’t read any of Michael Bond’s books … but was pleased to find I had followed Paddington Bear into living in Arundel Gardens!

I know the description of what was happening in the 1800s during the slow pace of development in this area – and as you say … often true today sadly.

@ Ian – thanks for looking … it’s difficult to cover all aspects in one ‘small’ article … but you know now.

So glad you remember 1976 – in London we didn’t have the water trucks … perhaps because the city is built using the underground artesian water … which today is running out.

When I was in Johannesburg we had major water restrictions in the 1980s … and used your self-imposed measures.

Thanks so much for enjoying the post and the basic information … all the best - Hilary

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Out of college in the UK and on to Africa - you were an adventurer.

Anabel Marsh said...

Not an area I know well, but interested to read its history all the same. I certainly remember the legendary summer of 1976!

Sandra Cox said...

Loved this post and seeing where you live:)
Take best care.

Joanne said...

Funny how much changes and then really doesn't. It's all in perspective, so much based on weather too, which can make a huge difference in how one views life and conditions. I love your descriptions and you do have a great history - zooming about your area and then off to South Africa, etc. Such a fabulous backdrop to write about and reflect upon. Very entertaining read today. Thanks.

Liz A. said...

It was a bit of a shock to stumble over my last name in your post. I don't see it much anywhere other than relating to my family, although I did know it was a place name. (When it does pop up, it always startles me.) (BTW, it's Arundel.)

Hels said...

The Great Exhibition of 1851 must have been fantastic. And although there were plenty of histories written, I wish I had seen the original. Prince Albert's contribution was also important.

But I hadn't thought about the erection of the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park encouraging the start of urban-growth. Thus the impressive Victorian houses and the gardens within the Ladbroke Estate Conservation Area! Well done!!

Lisa said...

In these times of no traveling, your blog helps make up for having to stay home!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Diane – not quite out of college … but I wanted to see the world – only got to Africa that time … still need to do the east (Asia) … many other travellers really went off around the world … but I’ve done my fair share …

@ Anabel – thanks … it’s interesting to think how much development and change has occurred in the last 200 – 300 years. That summer was hot wasn’t it …

@ Sandra – it’s where I lived, and the house in Eastbourne is around here – but showed an example of a ‘card-house’ – as I describe that sort of build.

@ Joanne – I was amazed at how much has changed … that we don’t tend to think about. There’s been a lot of weather in my time of life … the awful weather of 1962/3 and then the 1966 and 1976 very hot summers … there’ve been others – but those stand out.

Thank you … looking up a bit more of history brought things back, some I haven’t posted … as the post would have been way too long. Some of my travels have been daunting: I think one reason why I never went on from Africa to Asia and Australia – the usual journey route … just glad you’ve enjoyed the read …

@ Liz – Arundel is an ancient name going back before 1066 … it’s worth looking up the West Sussex town of Arundel – lots of history … but what a nice name to have!!

@ Hels – oh I agree … it’d have been fantastic to have been able to see the Great Exhibition, as too the Crystal Palace – I note looking again … six million people visited – apparently equivalent to a third of the population of Britain at the time … extraordinary to think about.

Prince Albert’s death was very sad … he had so much to offer – apparently, he was very forward thinking … and I’m sure would have made adjustments to this country to make it more empathetic to others’ lives …

@ Lisa – thanks … yes no travelling for anyone … so I’m delighted you enjoy the visits to read about life overseas …

Thanks to you all for visiting and enjoying the ‘run around’ one of my early homes in London – I’m enjoying learning about the social history aspects … take care and stay safe - Hilary

Liza said...

You left me wanting to squeeze that Paddington Bear.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

What an interesting life and post. Thank you for sharing. I love looking back.

Teresa

Keith's Ramblings said...

Wonderful memories. It made me think of all the years I spent in NW London in my late teens and twenties and the bedsits and shared flats I lived in. I really must go back one day and see how things have changed.

joylene said...

I think of you often, Hillary, during these quarantine times. I love your memories. I hope you're well and safe and healthy.

Jacqui Murray said...

It's always interesting to see how civilization and culture grew up in different parts. I love the comment "it was like the Wild West, a tangled web of capitalism". Ah yes, our famed Wild West. A lot of growing happened there!

C.D. Gallant-King said...

Fascinating stuff. I love this kind of history. My hometown is only about 60-years old and it's flat and boring. A history of it would be like 2 paragraphs long.

Inger said...

I thought you would find the Gustav III story interesting. So glad you stopped by. Hope you like the rest of it.

diedre Knight said...

My dear Hilary, I do believe you write with the same melodic accent you must surely speak with, and I find it mesmerizing! I could listen (or read) all day ;-) The card-house flat with a ‘walk-up,’ three jobs, and playing squash (I’ll have to look that up) before going ‘off’ to Africa sounds so exciting. I worked at a haunted hotel, once. After that, I packed tools into metal chests of drawers taller than I am (they provided a special step-ladder for me). But Africa was never on my radar at all. Now I look forward to piggeries, potteries, and dovecotes!

retirementreflections said...

What wonderful memories, Hilary. I've been to London (and to Notting Hill) but never had an extensive historical tour like this one.
And the original Paddington Bear had a green hat? Who knew?!!

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

What wonderful photos, I would love to visit but sadly I won't.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

No lift!! Yikes. My knees creak at the thought of that ;)
I love the history, especially seeing the old maps.

Denise Covey said...

Wow interesting history of Portobello. I would have liked to have known that before I visited some years ago. Thanks Hilary!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Liza – I know ‘dear Paddington’ …

@ Teresa – a somewhat peripatetic life – but fun and different and I’m enjoying this look back …

@ Keith – thank you … that’s great – it’s worth looking back and I hope you can find your way around and see what’s happened to your bedsits and flats – I was lucky I had the history through the booklet appropriate to the Gardens attached to the houses in the roads …

@ Joylene – not sure why you’ve fallen off my feedly … I’ll be back to comment and ‘see you ‘ again …

@ Jacqui – it is interesting to see how it’s actually happened – but only in the last 300 years or so … of course we can understand earlier and surmise much. Your books have really opened eyes to what it might have been millennia ago. The description of the corruption happening within that ‘tangled web’ hasn’t changed much, has it today …

@ CD – thank you … that’s great to read. It was interesting going to South Africa and being a part of early modern settlements – and coming from our culture (2,000 years +) over here – I’m not sure what I’d do … but found similar in Canada – it’s interesting to think about – perhaps that why I like learning about history now – only a recent application!

@ Inger – yes I did enjoy your Gustav III story – I’ll enjoy the other posts …

@ Diedre – thank you … I probably should make these into podcasts … as I know the British accent is always appreciated in other parts of the world.

I was lucky with having this peripatetic life and made the most of what I could, when I could. Working in your haunted hotel must have been fun … interesting to talk about to visitors … great imagination. Packed tools … I’ve done plenty of jobs like that too – great about the special step-ladder … at least they provided one.

I probably should have done more when I was out in South Africa – but I’m not that brave … though it’s amazing to think what existed westwards only 100 years before I moved into Arundel gardens …

@ Donna – you must have amazing memories of Beijing and China – I’ve never gone there, something I doubt I’ll do. Just glad you enjoyed the overview of the area … and yes Paddington Bear’s green hat … I’m sure Michael Bond would have approved the change in appearance.

@ Jo-Anne – I’m glad you enjoyed the photos … and thanks for visiting …

@ Lynda – it’s interesting isn’t it – I miss stairs when they’re not there … so five stories wasn’t bad and I was younger!! Delighted you appreciated the maps and views et al …

@ Denise – thank you … easy to write up – even though I did have the booklet – as one can search so much in this day and age.

Portobello was ‘farmland’ … amazing to think about – so pleased you enjoyed it … perhaps you’ll come back to London sometime? but I suspect you’ll have plenty of other places to visit – once the pandemic is over.

Thanks so much to you all for visiting and enjoying the post – delighted to find out you’ve been happy to read this. Take care and stay safe - Hilary

Elsie Amata said...

This was a fun trip down your memory lane, Hilary. I have a bit of a confession. I watch a reality show and one of the people lives in Notting Hill. His home looks like it's in the "country" - very pretty! I'm guessing it's in the same area?

Click link below for my new domain. Warmly,
Elsie

cleemckenzie said...

I can't imagine England without rain and being hot. That just is not right. But then there's so much these days that isn't.

The last time I walked down Portobello, I was twenty-four, with my wonderful new husband. Memories.

Chrys Fey said...

I've heard of Notting Hill, but never knew much about it.

Aw...Paddington Bear. <3

A Cuban In London said...

This was such a beautiful post. I've been to Portobello many times. The market is great.

Greetings from London.

Suzanne Furness said...

What a trip down memory lane you had. So pleased you managed to take the trip at the beginning of the year before life changed so much. Great you got to see your old flat, I love the description of a 'card house.' Best wishes and hope you are keeping well.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Elsie - I'm glad you enjoyed the post. 'Your house': that looks like it's in the country - is not ... but London is full of parks, little garden areas etc and parts are just delightful ... so the participant may well have a home, with a garden, the way you describe - and obviously could easily be (and probably is) in the posher parts ...

I was brought up west of Heathrow - and that was countryside in the 1950s and 1960s ... now it's part of greater London - 30 miles out (48 km) from central London.

@ Lee - we've had a few extraordinary years ... we've had the opposite too - 1962/3 was an awful winter - 3 months of freeze-up ... but the weather has changed; it changed in South Africa too ... it's part and parcel of our world!

That's great you've enjoyed the memory I've triggered of walking down Portobello with your newly beloved husband ... memories as you say.

@ Chrys - thank you ... Richard Curtis and his films have put Notting Hill on the map hasn't he ... and oh yes Paddington Bear ...

@ ACIL - thank you ... I'm sure you've often visited Portobello ... I used to use the provisions end of Portobello - where I could slip below the antique market length via Elgin Crescent.

@ Suzanne - yes as I was going in that direction I thought I should do a wander past my old flat ... it was like a card house - but I was happy up there.

Thanks for the visits and your comments ... next we move westwards a little ... all the best - Hilary

Vallypee said...

What a fascinating post, Hilary. This is the London of my childhood and I loved your take on it. I’m so glad you could go before lockdown. I wonder how much better some of these slummy student houses are now? I expect not much! Loved the card house!

Patsy said...

What a shame that some people have to live (or once lived) in places they prefer not to spend much time. Makes me realise how lucky I am to live in a comfortable home and to have a garden – something I've very much appreciated during lockdown.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

I always love your bits of British history, Hilary. Some of these buildings seem familiar. I guess it's because I love to watch the David Suchet Poirot [Agatha Christie] mysteries. All best to you, my dear!

moondustwriter said...

Amazing to see the changes. The trees probably take a moment to wonder what all the people are doing there. Thank you for always giving a delightful history lesson - gives my brains cells an energy boost.

Cheers and hope all is well in this Co-vid mire

Marja said...

How delightful to revisit your old home and to share all that interesting history. You must do quite a bit of research to gain all this knowledge.
You worked 3 jobs wow That is quite a bit

Nilanjana Bose said...

Such an intimate feel to this history! Thanks for taking us along on that trip down memory lane. London is one of my favourite cities to visit. Love wandering around. A very layered city. And super photogenic, too.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Val – glad I took you back to your childhood – well the student house was in the 1950s … and had been updated by the time I moved in to ‘my card house’ in the 1970s … but obviously there are still some slummy properties … though regulations are meant to be in place …

@ Patsy – yes … her description wasn’t very cheerful was it – yet, at least she had a room – post war I would think that was some luck. I can imagine you must be comfortable where you are … it’s lovely being able to get out and about a bit …

@ Victoria – thank you … we’ve (British history) been around a long time! Certainly some tv/film programmes use similar areas to film in … I too enjoy Poirot with David Suchet acting him …

@ Moonie – yes lots going on in London … those trees are so new – well the ones in the gardens weren’t they must be 150 years old now. So pleased I’ve given your brain cells an energy boost …

All well here in this Covid mire …

@ Marja – thank you … it was fun – but I was tired … I look around to see what makes sense to me and to the post for you. The three jobs – were two that were temporary that I fitted in … and I earned extra money – useful when you’re young.

@ Nila – thank you … just jogging along with my memories and thinking about life afterwards … also so interesting to find out about the earlier history.

Yes – London is an amazing city – so many parts to it … and as you say layered … with beautiful vistas.

Thanks so much to you all for visiting and commenting … lovely to see you – and makes me thinks too … take care - Hilary