Westbourne Grove, W11

Road in/near Notting Hill, existing between 1845 and now

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Road · Notting Hill · W11 ·
November
24
2015

Westbourne Grove is one of the main roads of Notting Hill.

Archer Street which became the westernmost section of Westbourne Grove.
Westbourne Grove runs from Kensington Park Road in the west to Queensway in the east, crossing over Portobello Road. It contains a mixture of independent and chain retailers, and has been termed both "fashionable" and "up-and-coming".

The development of Westbourne Grove began in the 1840s and proceeded from the east (which lay in Bayswater) to the west, where it became the principal east-west artery into the Ladbroke Estate. The far western end of the street only became known as Westbourne Grove relatively recently in 1938, having previously been called Archer Street. In 1929, the novelist A.J. Cronin opened his own medical practice at 152 Westbourne Grove, which was put up for sale in 2007.

Westbourne Grove takes its name from Westbourne Green - a settlement that developed to the west of the bourne that later took the name River Westbourne.

There was a small settlement to the north of what is now Westbourne Grove at Westbourne Green. It had five main houses. The largest of these was Westbourne Place or Westbourne House, which was rebuilt in 1745 by the architect Isaac Ware as an elegant Georgian mansion of three storeys with a frontage of nine windows divided into three parts. The central third was topped by a large pediment and contained the main door, which also had a pediment over it. The lower two storeys were formed into bays at each end, which contained three windows each. Amongst the well-known residents of this house were Sir William Yorke, baronet; the Venetian ambassador; the architect Samuel Pepys Cockerell (a great great nephew of the diarist Samuel Pepys); and the General Commander in Chief of the Army, Viscount Hill, who left in 1836 (and who gave his name to the modern road bridge north of Westbourne Grove called Lord Hill’s Bridge). The house was demolished in 1836 to make way for the houses and gardens of what is now Westbourne Park Villas. Thomas Hardy lived in this area, mainly at no 16 Westbourne Park Villas, which was his home 1863-67.

Also north of what is now Westbourne Grove was Westbourne Farm which was the home, between 1815 - 1817, of the actress Sarah Siddons, who lived there with her daughter. The Farm was at the point where the Harrow Road, the Westway and the canal converge. Mrs Siddons was buried at St Mary’s Church, the main church of Paddington, on Paddington Green, where her grave can still be seen.

Though now popular and expensive for home-buyers, much of the area had become run-down in the 1950s, when it was the centre of the activities of notorious slum-landlord Peter Rachman, after whom the phrase "Rachmanism" was coined. He was known for his violent evictions of tenants with legally fixed rents. He replaced them, in what became overcrowded multi-occupied housing, with people, mainly recent migrants from the West Indies, who, because of discrimination and council tenant restrictions, could not find accommodation. He operated from an office in Westbourne Grove. Part of the area, including streets between Ledbury Road and Shrewsbury Road to the south of Westbourne Park Road, became derelict and was consequently compulsorily purchased and demolished.

The Notting Hill Carnival passes along the central part of Westbourne Grove.


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Archer Street which became the westernmost section of Westbourne Grove.
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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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