The main drag at Notting Hill Gate is probably not one of the most architecturally distinguished parts of London. The north side of the road, west of Pembridge Road is a plain row of shops with the incongruously tall Campden Hill Towers at the centre. But the pavements are pleasantly wide and uncrowded most of the time and I like the convenience of having three small versions of well known supermarkets close to each other. In the past there were other useful branches of chains such as WH Smiths and Timothy Whites (remember them? My wife and I bought several kitchen items there which lasted us for years.). The south side of the street between the Gate Cinema and Kensington Church Street is possibly even less distinguished and hasn’t aged well. But that wide sunny road takes you to the West End and Pembridge Road takes you to Portobello Road. When I came to London in the 1970s it was one of the first places I added to my mental map of the city and I retain a certain affection for it. I’ve never known any other version.
Of course now I know what it used to look like in the late 19th century and the early 20th, a classic Victorian/Edwardian high street.
This was it in 1956 looking west. The Midland Bank visible in the centre was on the corner with Pembridge Road where Jamie Oliver’s establishment now sits.
The Central line station was still above ground then and was little changed since this view from the early years of the last century.
The street frontage has already been stripped away to show the street behind the high street. There had been a plan to amalgamate the two stations, modernise the area,and widen the street since 1937 but this had been postponed by the war. The London Transport Executive took up the plan again in the 1950s and began buying up property from 1955.
The view below from 1957 is looking north up Kensington Church Street and shows the whole corner under demolition.
This is a view from closer up. The two buildings on the north side of Notting Hill Gate are visible in both pictures.
This view is looking west. You can see the water tower in the distance and the top of the Coronet cinema.
By contrast this is the view with the road partially closed. The interesting feature is the unobstructed view of the block of flats on the right.
The same is true of this picture showing the part of the street still in use. The block in question is Broadwalk Court, an art deco style building designed by Robert Atkinson and built in 1934. It’s fascinating to see it suddenly revealed when you’re used to the view being obscured by its surroundings.
In the picture below you can see a sign saying District and Circle Line Entrance, but I can’t see an actual entrance. Behind the hoarding?
The building site also attracted an artist,
This architect’s model shows the whole development. One of the interesting features are the buildings and narrow streets behind the shops and the tower, which are hidden at street level. The 18-storey residential tower block was intended to replace some of the local housing that had been lost by the demolition work.
We have a couple of pictures which are my favourites from this set. This one shows the construction work well advanced, with a small truck ploughing through a nearly flooded street.
It all looks very quiet as London sometimes does.
It’s now week six of the great scanning famine. I’ve been using our book scanner which uses a slightly lower resolution than I normally use but you don’t see too much difference. Once again crucial information about the development came from that Bible of local history, the Survey of London