Notting Hill: A place whose fortunes have come, gone and come again...
Basing Street was originally Basing Road between 1867 and 1939.
Basing Street might have acquired its name from the railway developer landowner James Whitchurch from Southampton, near Basingstoke. Alternatively it could have been named in honour of the 16th century landlord, Sir William Paulet or Pawlet, Lord St John of Basing and Marquis of Winchester, Lord High Treasurer in the reign of Elizabeth I.
The foundation stone for a congregational chapel, was laid by the Nottingham Liberal MP Samuel Morley in July 1865, "at a time when all this part was little more than open fields."
Waxwork models produced on Basing Street for Madame Tussaud’s included the local serial killer John Christie from 10 Rillington Place
. In the late 1960s the building had another famous reincarnation as the offices and studios of Island Records. Chris Blackwell’s first memory of the premises is being freaked out when he found himself in a room full of dummies. Led Zeppelin began recording their fourth album, including ’Stairway To Heaven’, in the newly opened Island Basing Street studio 2 in 1970, as Jethro Tull’s ’Aqualung’ album was being recorded in the larger Basing Street studio 1.
In the glam and prog rock years Basing Street was frequented by the likes of Bad Company, ELP, Alex Harvey, Mott the Hoople, Robert Palmer, Roxy Music, Sparks, Traffic and the Average White Band. The studios were also used by such non-Island acts as the Eagles, Genesis, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. At one point in 1973 the Wailers and the Stones were in the studios at the same time, recording ’Burnin’ and ’Goat’s Head Soup’ respectively.
Bob Marley lived on Basing Street above the Island studios for some time, and his wife Rita of the I-Threes became a longstanding Basing Street resident.
The area’s most important music history s commemorated in the Basing Street Rooms mural.
Gems were a wax model makers for Madame Tussaud’s situated on Basing Road (now Street) on corner of Lancaster Road.
Here we see the staff setting out on their annual works outing on 8 July 1922.
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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.