Coordinates: 51°30′51.3″N 0°12′14″W / 51.514250°N
0.20389°W / 51.514250; -0.20389
Portobello Road street sign
Portobello Road is a street in the
Notting Hill district of the Royal
Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in west London. It runs almost the
Notting Hill from south to north, roughly parallel with
Ladbroke Grove. On Saturdays it is home to
Portobello Road Market, one
of London's notable street markets, known for its second-hand clothes
and antiques. Every August since 1996, the Portobello Film Festival
has been held in locations around Portobello Road.
1.2 18th century
1.3 19th century
Portobello Road Market
5 Market in the media
7 See also
9 External links
Portobello Road was known prior to 1740 as Green's Lane - a winding
country path leading from Kensington Gravel Pits, in what is now
Notting Hill Gate, up to
Kensal Green in the north.
In 1740, Portobello Farm was built in the area near what is now
Golborne Road. The farm got its name from a popular victory during the
lost War of Jenkins' Ear, when Admiral
Edward Vernon captured the
Spanish-ruled town of Puerto Bello (now known as Portobelo in
modern-day Panama). Vernon Yard, which runs off Portobello Road, still
honours the Admiral's name to this day. The Portobello farming area
covered the land which is now St. Charles Hospital.
1841 map of the Environs of London, showing the Portobello Farm on the
upper left hand side, and Porto Bello Lane.
Portobello Farm was sold to an order of nuns after the railways came
in 1864. They built St Joseph's Convent for the
Dominican Order - or
the "Black Friars" as they were known in England.
Portobello Road is a construction of the Victorian era. Before about
1850, it was little more than a country lane connecting Portobello
Kensal Green in the north and what is today
Notting Hill in
the south. Much of it consisted of hayfields, orchards and other open
land. The road ultimately took form piecemeal in the second half of
the 19th century, nestling between the large new residential
Paddington and Notting Hill. Its shops and markets
thrived on serving the wealthy inhabitants of the elegant crescents
and terraces that sprang up around it, and its working class residents
found employment in the immediate vicinity as construction workers,
domestic servants, coachmen, messengers, tradesmen and costermongers.
After the Hammersmith and City Railway line was completed in 1864, and
Ladbroke Grove station opened, the northern end of
Portobello Road was
also developed, and the last of the open fields disappeared under
brick and concrete.
Portobello Road's distinctiveness does not rely only on its market. A
range of communities inhabiting the street and the district
contributes to a cosmopolitan and energetic atmosphere, as do the many
restaurants and pubs. The architecture plays a part too, as the road
meanders and curves gracefully along most of its length, unlike the
more formally planned layout of most of the nearby area. Mid- to
late-Victorian terrace houses and shops predominate, squeezed tightly
into the available space, adding intimacy and a pleasing scale to the
streetscape. The Friends of Portobello campaign seeks to preserve the
street's unique dynamic, as the potential arrival of big-brand chain
stores threatens the locals.
Portobello Road is also home to the Grade
II* Electric Cinema, one of Britain's oldest cinemas.
The road descends from 84 feet (25.6 m) above sea level at the
northern end, the highest point, to a lowest point of 65 feet
(19.8 m), just south of the overpasses, after which the road
rises and falls before reaching a high point of 78 feet (23.8 m)
at the southern end. The average grade of ascent or descent between
the northern end and the lowest point is about 1.77 percent.
Portobello Road Market
Portobello Road Market, June 2005.
An antique dealer on Portobello Road
Portobello Road Market draws thousands of tourists each year. The main
market day for antiques is Saturday, the only day when all five
sections are opened: second-hand goods, clothing and fashion,
household essentials, fruit, vegetables and other food, and antiques.
However, there are also clothing, antique, bric-a-brac, fruit and
vegetable stalls throughout the week and are located further north
than the antiques, near the Westway Flyover. Shops and Cafes are
The market began as many other
London market and mainly sold
fresh-food in the 19th century; antiques and wares dealers arrived in
the late 1940s and '50s, and gradually antiques have become the very
main attraction of this market, having a substantial number of them
trading mainly on Saturday mornings. It is the largest antiques market
in the UK.
The market section of
Portobello Road runs in a direction generally
between the north-northwest and the south-south-east. The northern
terminus is at Golborne Road; the southern end is at Westbourne Grove,
to the east. The market area is about 1,028 yards (940 m) long.
About one third of the way from its north end, the market runs beneath
adjacent bridges of the
A40 road and the Hammersmith & City line
London Underground. Here the market focuses on second hand
clothes as well as trendy couture.
Market in the media
Ealing Studios police thriller, The Blue Lamp, starring Dirk
Bogarde and Jack Warner, as P.C. George Dixon, a character later
revived in the long-running TV drama, Dixon of Dock Green, featured
location filming in the
Notting Hill / Portobello area.
It features good shots of these locations in pre-Westway days, and
includes a thrilling car chase along largely traffic-free roads,
including Portobello Road.
In the short story The Portobello Road,
Muriel Spark narrates the
story of a murderer who, visited by the ghost of his victim,
Macbeth-style, tends to constantly go to the
Portobello Road market to
meet her. The
Portobello Road was included in the 1958 collection of
stories The Go-away Bird and Other Stories.
In the narrative introduction to their song Have Some Madeira M'Dear,
Michael Flanders of Flanders & Swann mentions a decanter he owns,
- "cut glass, from the Portobello Road" - in which he keeps Madeira.
That decanter plus his Edwardian hat, are credited as the inspirations
for the song. Album - At the Drop of a Hat.
in 1966, singer Donovan recorded the song "Sunny South Kensington"
containing the lyrics, "in the Portobella I met a fella with a cane
In the 1970 novel
The Chinese Agent
The Chinese Agent by author Michael Moorcock, a
world-renowned jewel-thief more than meets his match when he attempts
to swipe a brooch from a
Portobello Road market stall, and is hunted
down through the streets like a dog by the sharp-eyed market traders.
The market was featured in the 1971 musical film, Bedknobs and
Broomsticks in a scene involving a song ("Portobello Road") and dance
in and around the market staged on sets built at Disney's Burbank
studios. The lyrics refer to the market and the people who live and
In 1978, the rock band
Dire Straits sang about the road in the song
"Portobello Belle" on their second album Communiqué.
The cult British children's book character
Paddington Bear, featured
in the books written by Michael Bond, enjoys visiting Portobello
Market on a daily basis. His friend Mr. Gruber owns an antique shop on
the Portobello Road, with whom
Paddington has his elevenses every day.
Portobello Road and its colorful restaurants, pubs, and local
culture is featured prominently in Martin Amis's 1989 dark satirical
The street and its name also appeared regularly on the hit TV series
The board game Portobello Market is named after this market.
BBC One's daytime antiques-based gameshow
Bargain Hunt regularly
features contestants buying items at the market to later sell at
It is also referenced in the song "Blue Jeans" by alternative rock
band Blur, from the 1993 album Modern Life Is Rubbish, in which the
opening lyrics are "Air cushioned soles, I bought them on the
Portobello Road on a Saturday."
It was the setting for the 1999 film Notting Hill, with much of the
filming taking place on the street. The famed blue door, however, no
longer exists, having been sold.
In 2006, the 20 minute documentary Portobello: Attack of the Clones
London awards and was screened a number of times at the infamous
Electric Cinema. The film showed how
Portobello Road is threatened by
high street stores changing the street's independent spirit. It
featured a large number of local stallholders and influencers, and was
made by local filmmakers Paul McCrudden and Alex Thomas for TAG Films.
It is the setting for Paulo Coelho's 2007 novel, The Witch of
Ruth Rendell published a novel set in the area entitled,
The B-side of British
Singer-Songwriter Cat Stevens' 1966 single "I
Love My Dog" is titled "Portobello Road" and discusses a walk through
the famous street and market. The track also appears on Cat Stevens'
1967 debut album Matthew and Son.
One of the most famous TV show, from 1977 to 1983, in Italian
television broadcast RAI was named Portobello after Portobello Road.
The programme was suspended after the arrest of the anchorman Enzo
Tortora for drug selling. Afterwards in 1987 Tortora was declared
innocent and became a symbol, in Italian popular culture, of the
victim of miscarriages of justice. In 1987, Tortora come back in
television with Portobello.
In Caetano Veloso's "Nine Out Of Ten" song from the 1972 album Transa,
he sings "walk down
Portobello Road to the sound of reggae". The
Brazilian artist lived in
London in the late 1960s and early 1970s
because of his exile from Brazil.
Only Fools and Horses
Only Fools and Horses episode Cash and Curry, Conmen who con
Del Boy and
Rodney Trotter using a statue of Kubera bought it from
Portobello Road. The idea for the episode is as the writer, the late
John Sullivan visited the street and it gave him an idea for a new
Stand selling T-shirts along the crowded market
George Orwell's 1927 lodgings in Portobello Road
History of marketing
Markets in London
Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising
London Markets Portobello Road".
London Markets. Archived from the
original on 11 January 2008. Retrieved 21 January 2008.
^ "Festival Reports".
Portobello Road Film Festival. 2005. Retrieved
^ Sheppard, F. H. W. (1973). "The village centres around St. Mary
Abbot's Church and
Notting Hill Gate". Survey of London. volume 37.
pp. 25–41. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
^ "Portobello Farm by E Adveno Brookes - 19th Century". Royal Borough
of Kensington and Chelsea Libraries. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
^ Harrison-Wallace, Charles. "The Coach & Signpainter". Pub Signs
& Decoration. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
^ "St Charles Hospital". National Health Service. Retrieved
^ "The history of Portobello and Notting Hill". mynottinghill.co.uk.
Archived from the original on 2007-12-23. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
^ Spark, Muriel (1958). The Go-away Bird and Other Stories. Macmillan,
^ "Bedknobs and Broomsticks". The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 September 2008.
Retrieved 13 October 2008.
Shopportobello - Portobello & Golborne Markets Management
Committee market guide
Antiques Dealers Association
Guide to the Road, and a documentary film
Portobello History website
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