Redevelopment: Notting Hill Gate 1958-60

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.

Notting Hill Gate north side 92-164 1963 K63-1077

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.

Notting Hill Gate 76-100 looking west 1956 K2454B

The Central line station was still above ground then and was little changed since this view from the early years of the last century.

Notting Hill Gate station PC 367This picture, from 1958 shows the south side of the road where the District and Circle line entrance was.

 

Notting Hill Gate development 1958 K4067B

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.

Notting Hill Gate redevelopment 1957 K61-211

This is a view from closer up. The two buildings on the north side of Notting Hill Gate are visible in both pictures.

Notting Hill Gate demolition October 1957 K61-213

This view is looking west. You can see the water tower in the distance and the top of the Coronet cinema.

Notting Hall Gate redevelopment 1958 K4064B

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.

Notting Hill Gate Development 1958 looking east K4065B

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.

Notting Hill Gate development 1958 K4066B

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?

Notting Hill Gate redevelopment 1958 K4068B

The building site also attracted an artist,

Notting Hill Gate redevelopment 1958 from a watercolour by Mrs M Werther K61-219

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.

 

Notting Hill Gate redevelopment 1958-61 K61-479

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.

 

Notting Hill Gate redevelopment 1960 K61-466

This one is looking from the west by Ladbroke Terrace, beyond the parade of shops.
Notting Hill Gate redevelopment 1959 K62-47B

 

It all looks very quiet as London sometimes does.

Postscript

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

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27 responses to “Redevelopment: Notting Hill Gate 1958-60

  • havanagold

    Absolutely brilliant !! Thanks !! I live in this immediate area and have always wantes to see photographs like this. Thanks again. David M On 30 Jun 2016 08:35, “The Library Time Machine” wrote:

    > Dave Walker posted: “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. Bu” >

  • London Remembers

    Thanks for the post – it really was redevelopment on a major scale. We’d hoped your post would solve a long-standing puzzle but none of your pictures include the corner with Pembridge Gardens: https://goo.gl/maps/yeuQNSssUSF2
    There’s a very nice, large, crest on the flank wall at that corner. It looks familiar but we just cannot identify it. Can you help? Do you know which shop was on that corner?

  • nigeldviv

    It’s fascinating to see old Notting Hill as it used to be in the late 50s before the re-developers destroyed it. Your last photo looking west must have been taken right outside my old primary school called St Vincents, at 6 Holland Park Avenue and I can remember this view all to well! This school only lasted from about 1950 to 1965 but I have never managed to find any reference to it since then. I wonder if any of your readers remember it, or whether there are any records about the school in the RBKC archives? It was run by Mrs Bromley & Miss Reid, and teachers included Miss Kent and Mrs Monger. I can recall around 1955 being taken in a crocodile just up the road to the ABC cafe for lunch which featured lumpy mash potato served in unappetizing round dollops using an ice cream scoop! Many thanks for all your great posts, despite the scanner problems.

    • John Robert

      I was at St.Vincents from about1948 until 1954. I remember well Mrs Bromley who was Mrs Drummond originally. The school in it’s earlier days was further down Holland Park Avenue. I also remember Mrs Reid and Mrs Monger. Our dinners were taken at a wartime British Restaurant further up Notting Hill Gate. I had happy days walking home from school with a couple of school mates and exploring bombed out house on Ladbroke Grove up by St. John’s Church. Get in touch if you want further info on old school.
      Best wishes, John

      • nigeldviv

        Many thanks for your reply John, I did not think I would ever come across someone else who had even heard of St. Vincents, let alone a former pupil! I guess you would have been a “senior” when in 1954 I started in the rather surprisingly named “kindergarten”, so you certainly would not have noticed me! I would be very interested in anything else you can remember about the old school back in your days. I recently did some research and at 6 Holland Park Ave. found Merville G. V. Drummond who inexplicably became Bromley circa 1950. Prior to 1947 his address was 6 Ladbroke Sq, so I wonder if this was the location you referred to? I wonder if you remember the formidable Mrs Bromley’s favourite phrase…. “Don’t be Vague”. I recall that it was not wise to upset her, she could be rather volatile! Exploring bomb sites was great wasn’t it!
        Best wishes, Nigel

      • Maya Bernardo

        I was at St Vincents from 1948 to 1953. I don’t remember “Don’t be vague” but I do remember Mrs Bromley well. I remember her complaining to my father about the way I looked at her. (Clearly my attempt at the “evil eye” worked!) I got away with it because I was considered “clever”….. but I can remember her humiliating so many pupils. She could be a very unpleasant lady when she tried. On the other hand, I have fond memories of Mrs Reid (her mother)
        I too remember the bomb sites particularly a large house on Ladbroke Grove. It looked fairly solid from the outside but upon entry it was all rubble except for an unsupported central staircase . I and other pupils from St Vincents took turns running up and down that staircase. How we didn’t manage to kill ourselves, i don’t know.

      • John Howell

        Hello Maya, I posted two items on the Notting Hill Gate site under the name John Robert and John Howell. However, you will remember me as John Moon as I was then.
        I remember you well, and as you say, you were clever winning a place at the Greycoat school along with Jacqueline Grant. I went to Westminster City School. We did meet very briefly at my school at a sixth form school dance.
        Mrs. Bromley could be very strict but she gave us a very good education. Sometime her aspirations for us were beyond our years. I remember her treat for us after our 11 plus was a trip to the cinema (the Coronet?) to see the Tales of Hoffman. Not really a film to excite 11 year olds.
        Your memories of that bombed house are exactly as I remember it. I wonder if it got rebuilt or demolished. Also Simone’s description of Mrs. Denny is exactly as she is in the school photo.
        Looking at the programme of the school concert on19th. July 1952, I see you were cast as second daughter in The Golden Goose. Maureen Brander was first daughter and Susan Frucht was third daughter. All the names from the past!
        I am hoping to scan the photos and any other literature that I have so keep an eye on the site.
        Best wishes, John

    • John Howell

      Hi Nigel,
      Further to my previous memories of St. Vincent’s School. I have looked through old papers left by my parents and have found much relating to the school. I have all my old reports from 1947 to 1954, and from them I have found that the school was originally at No.14 Holland Park Avenue and moved to No.6 in mid 1948. Mrs. Drummond was the principal and she became Mrs. Bromley in 1951.
      I have a school photo of all pupils taken in the garden of No.14, with me in the front row sitting on the ground, circa 1947/8. There are 83 children, with Mrs. Reid and Mrs. Drummond(as she was then) on one side of the children, and Mrs.Denny on the other. I also have a copy of the programme of the school concert, dated 19th. July at the Twenieth Century Theatre in Westbourne Grove.One member of the Kindergarten singers was Rima Horton who became Alan Rickman’s partner /wife. When I googled her I found references to the school (inaccurate) and her time at the school. Also got local paper cutting and photos of this school production.Hope this is of interest.
      Best wishes, John

      • simone

        Well swipe me…..I was a pupil at this lovely little school in a big beautiful house from about 1945 or 6 to 1951 when we did the dreaded 11 plus. Mrs Drummond’s brother Mr Reid, taught us art, and was a very inspiring man, I learned to love art and history through this wonderful man. Mrs Denny was such a picture in her brown mac, plaited hair (curled over the ears) and she used to ride home on a bicycle with a basket on the front. The other pupils were from smart homes – architects, surveyors, engineers, and were well heeled, we were not so fortunate. I can remember every word of the French lessons to this day, it was a great foundation for education. We lived down the road in Shepherds Bush, and used to walk home via the sweet shops. Does anyone remember John Harris? His parents owned the Sun in Splendour pub in Notting Hill Gate. Thank you so much for these memories as I live in Africa now. We were blessed to go to that school. Simone

  • dave clemo

    I lived just off Ladbroke Grove in the 60s. In the early 70 I was living in Minford Gardens in Shepherds Bush and would sometime go and visit a friend who worked in the co-op at Notting Hill Gate. It was just along from W H Smith on the corner. On the same parade of shops there was a shop that sold second hand LPs as well as some new ones. This was the first Virgin Record shop. At the back there was a display of stereo hi-fi kit. I took the plunge and bought my first stereo amplifier. 10 watts per channel, £10 and sold under the Amstrad brand. I wonder what happened to the blokes who set up the record shop and sold hi fi equipment?

  • Andy Cattin

    St Vincents had to be still around in say the last 60’s, I know, I went there! I lived at 4 Hillcrest 51-57 Ladbroke Grove, and that was my first “real” school, I have very fond memories of our daily spelling drills

  • Michael Hollamby

    Fascinating photographs and history….Some good,some bad.

  • simone

    Hi John Moon/Howell, you mention a school photo with Mrs Denny in it, where did you find it, as I would like to look at it, if it is on a website please could you link me in there. Maya was my sister Suzanne Williams’ best friend (she was at St Vincent’s too, and my cousin Helen Smith) and they are friends still today on Facebook. Thanks

    • John Howell

      Hello Simone,

      I have a scan of the photo with Mrs. Denny which I will be please to email to you. It is a group school photo taken 1947/48 and it also includes Mrs. Bromley and Mrs. Reid. Please contact Dave Walker and ask him to give you my email address. I have already asked him to invite you to contact me so there should be no problem. Failing that, I have been swapping memories with Maya so maybe she will give you my email address.

      I would be pleased to hear your comments on the photo as I believe you may be on it. Unfortunately I can only recognise myself and Richard Greene.

      Hopefully you will be in touch soon and I can email all the school memorabilia that I have.

      Best wishes, John

  • simone

    Richard Greene is our cousin…………I will ask Maya for your email. Thanks for the memories of childhood beginnings. I suppose I will recognise you when I see the pix.

  • simone

    Hi John, not getting replies from Maya or Dave Walker re scan…..sadly as would love to see it.

    • John Howell

      Simone, Maya said that she has passed my email address to you. However, if it has failed to reach you I will ask Maya to give me your email address so I can contact you direct, and I will contact Dave and ask him to pass my email address to you.

      I would love to be in contact with you to pass on old photos and memorabilia of St. Vincent’s, and to read about your memories. I would be especially pleased if you could put me in contact with my friend of 65years ago, Richard Green who you said is your cousin.

      Hoping to be in touch soon, John.

  • simone

    Don’t think Maya has my email address but she can easily acquire it from my sister. I am not sure where Richard Green is…….I know he was in contact with my aunt Thelma who died last year. But my sister may also know about him. I am on facebook by the way under my name…are you on FB?

  • simone

    Maya I am not on messenger or any smart phone connections just email facebook etc. Sue said she gave you my email please use that….you are looking good, thanks Si

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