PORTOBELLO ROAD

 

 

   “Portobello Lane” was a country lane leading up from Notting Hill Gate to Portobello Farm in what is now the Golborne Road area. The farm is said to have been built in 1740, the year after the town of Porto Bello in Panama was captured by the British from the Spanish during  the War of Jenkins Ear (Robert Jenkins was the Captain of a British merchant ship which was boarded by Spanish coastguards who severed his ear).  Part of the farm adjoined the Ladbroke family’s estate, with the southern part of Portobello Lane forming a section of its eastern boundary There is a map of the farm (which consisted of some 170-180 acres) in the Survey of London:

www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol37/pp298-332.

 

    The farm was purchased in 1755 by Charles Henry Talbot of Inner Temple. It remained in the Talbot family until the 1850s, when the family began selling off parts of the land belonging to it for development. The farm itself (in the hands of a tenant former called George Wise) survived until the mid-1860s.  Although not part of the Ladbroke estate, most of Portobello Road was subsequently incorporated into the Ladbroke Conservation area.

 

Portobello Farm in 1864 by E. Adveno Brookes (courtesy RBKC)

 

 

    Portobello Road only began to be built up in the 1850s, starting from the south and gradually creeping northwards. As was the normal practice, the freeholders of the land would let building leases of plots of land along the road, which is thus constructed of a number of terraces, all slightly differently designed. They all had different names and their own numbering systems until the numbering of Portobello Road was rationalised in 1870.

 

 

Old terrace names and numbers

 Terrace numbers all consecutive. Most but not all are numbered from south to north. Public houses often did not have a number.

 

 

Odds (western side)

Nos. 1, 3 and 5 do not exist.

Nos. 7-13 were part of Lansdale Terrace.

Nos. 15, 17, 25 (now demolished) and 55-63 did not originally have numbers. Nos. 18-23

    and 27-53 do not exist.

Nos. 65-113 were Nos. 1-24 Portobello Terrace (south to north)

Nos. 115-173 were Nos 1-30 Vernon Terrace (south to north)

Nos. 181-197 were Nos. 1-10 All Saints Terrace (south to north)

Nos. 199-203 were Nos. 1-3 Arundel Terrace (south to north)

No. 205 was an unnumbered “Hall”

Nos. 209-221 were 1-7 Windsor Terrace (south to north)

No. 223 was “The Folly”

Nos. 227-251 were Nos. 1-13 Tavistock Terrace (north to south)

Nos. 253-275 were 1-12 Bridge Terrace (south to north)

 

Evens (eastern side)

 

Nos. 2-80 were Pelham Terrace

Nos. 86-92 were  1-4 Oxford Terrace (south to north)

Nos. 94-112 (now demolished) were 1-10 Lonsdale Terrace (north to south)

Nos. 114-132 (now demolished) were 6-15 Commerce Place (south to north)

Nos. 156-184 were 1-16 Powis Terrace (south to north)

Nos. 186-204 were 1-10 of an unnamed terrace (south to north)

Nos. 206-214 were Nos. 1-5 Warwick Terrace (north to south)

Nos. 216-238 were Nos. 15-25 Tavistock Terrace (south to north)

Nos. 240-252 were Nos. 1-7 Golden Terrace (south to north)

Nos. 254-262 were Nos. 1-5 Alfred Terrace (south to north)

 

 

 

 

    A market mainly for fresh food was quick to form in Portobello Road, possibly as early as the 1860s when it was still under construction. At first the market was only on Saturdays, but then in the 1920s extended to other weekdays (Thursday remains early closing day when the market operates only in the morning, although this restriction is less and less observed). In the 1940s, rag-and-bone and bric-a-brac started appearing and then antique dealers, with stalls only on Saturdays. Most of the selling was from shops on the ground floors of the houses. But in the 1960s and 1970s, these became hollowed out and the present arcdaes were created.

 

 

Portobello Road western side – Nos. 15-63 odds (south of Pembridge Villas)

 

    The first few houses on the western side of Portobello Road (Nos.7-13), including the Sun in Splendour public house, are in the Pembridge Conservation Area and are not described here.

 

    Originally, the rest of the western side south of Pembridge Villas had few buildings, as it was taken up by the gardens attached to the big villas in Kensington Park Road. The villas were replaced in the 1930s by the present mansion blocks and much of this stretch consists of the handsome red-brick back walls of the mansions. At some point before 1863, St Peter’s Church built a school next to what is now No. 59a, a handsome neo-Gothic building which is now St Peter’s church hall.

 

     There were also a scattering of stable blocks along this stretch – two story buildings with stabling on the ground floor and accommodation for the grooms above. As the motor car replaced horses, these were turned into garages, workshops and storage facilities. These in turn were remodelled and converted into residential accommodation, mostly in the late 20th century – Nos. 17, 57 and 59 are typical examples, still retaining their overall shape, and No. 15 may also be an early remodelled stable block (in an 1888 directory it is described as “Lonsdale Villa”).

The old St Peter's Church School in 2003. No. 59 Portobello Road is on the left,

before its remodelling, showing clearly its origins as a stable block.

 

     The stable block at Nos. 61-63 was demolished completely in the early 2000s and replaced by the present stylish modern building.

Nos. 61-63 Portobello Road in 2006.

 

    The main eyesore on this section is Sarum House – an oppressive grey brick block at No. 55. This was built in the 1960s and is connected to Latimer House in Kensington Park Road. Both belong to the Ministry of Defence and are used for staff accommodation.

 

 

 

TO BE CONTINUED

 

 

Portobello Road looking north from junction with Elgin Crescent, c.1900. The Colville pub (now First Floor) can be seen in the distance.

 

The Colville public house and the Marks and Spencer building in 1971. Courtesy RBKC.

 

The Warwick Castle public house (now the Castle), early 1900s.

Looking south from Talbot Road