Notting Hill: A place whose fortunes have come, gone and come again...
The West Cross Route is a 1.21 km-long dual carriageway running north-south between the northern elevated roundabout junction with the western end of Westway (A40) and the southern Holland Park Roundabout.
The WCR was formerly the M41 motorway. Its status was downgraded to an A-road in 2000 when responsibility for trunk roads in Greater London was transferred from the Highways Agency to the Greater London Authority.
The WCR was originally the designation for the western section of Ringway 1, the innermost circuit of the London Ringways network, a complex and comprehensive plan for a network of high-speed roads circling central London designed to manage and control the flow of traffic within the capital.
The WCR and the other roads planned in the 1960s for central London had developed from early schemes prior to the Second World War through Sir Patrick Abercrombie’s County of London Plan, 1943 and Greater London Plan, 1944 to a 1960s Greater London Council (GLC) scheme that would have involved the construction of many miles of motorway-standard roads across the city and demolition on a massive scale. Due to the huge construction costs and widespread public opposition, most of the scheme was cancelled in 1973 and the WCR, Westway and the East Cross Route in east London were the only significant parts to be built.
At the northern end, had the road been built in full, the entry and exit ramps to and from the elevated roundabout with the Westway would have been slip roads. The main route would have continued north beneath the roundabout into North Kensington and on to the junction with the North Cross Route at Harlesden. The alignment of the slip roads leaves a wide space between for the unbuilt carriageway. On the north side of the roundabout, two short stubs indicate the starting point of the slip roads that would have been provided for traffic joining or leaving the northern section of the WCR.
South of the Holland Park roundabout, which the WCR would have passed above on a flyover, the route would have continued along the alignment of the West London Line
passing over Kensington (Olympia
) station to a westbound-only interchange with the A4 at Talgarth Road. It would then have been elevated over Earls Court Exhibition Centre, skirted the western edge of Brompton Cemetery, and passed by Stamford Bridge stadium before an eastbound-only interchange along Lots Road to meet Cheyne Walk. Next the WCR would have crossed the River Thames on a new bridge and entered Battersea where it would have had a junction with the South Cross Route.
Although the road no longer has motorway status, pedal cycles are prohibited by a sign at Holland Park roundabout.
Approximately halfway along the road’s length a new junction was built in the 2010s to serve the Westfield London
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Notting Hill is a cosmopolitan district known as the location for the annual Notting Hill Carnival, and for being home to the Portobello Road
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.