England, London

Free Things To Do In London: Learn The Rags-To-Riches History of Notting Hill.

September 16, 2016
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Notting Hill is a very famous district in North-West London which is known to be one of the affluent areas in the city. But did you know that it had a very dark past? So dark that Charles Booth, an English social researcher in the 19th century described it as “one of the worst areas in London”. If you were to visit London 50 years ago, Notting Hill would’ve been a massive slum area which the rich Londoners wouldn’t even dare to go. Look at it now though, how amazing is the transformation?

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Notting Hill’s Dark History

In the early 19th century, Notting Hill was nothing but a rural area known for its numerous potteries and piggery farming business. In the 1950’s, West Indies immigrants started arriving which caused much tension among the existing, mainly white population of Notting Hill.

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The immigrants were not welcome and the white community showed it by not allowing them access to the local pubs while the landlords would not accept black tenants. The notorious Peter Rachman started his business through the immigrants by housing large numbers of people in overpriced tiny and slum properties. The immigrants, having no other choice as he was the only one who would accept them, would pay this amount and live in tiny apartments around Notting Hill.

Notting Hill, London - Pinay Flying High

In late August of 1958, a certain Majbritt Morrison, a white Swedish woman had an argument with her West Indian husband, Raymond Morrison in Latimer Road tube station. A group of white youths tried to intervene which broke out into a fight between Raymond Morrison’s friends and the intervening people. Later that night, a mob of 300 to 400 white people started the Notting Hill race riot and attacked the houses of West Indian residents. The riot and attacks continued on every night until the 5th of September.

Notting Hill, London - Pinay Flying High

The year after the riot, Notting Hill Carnival started as an answer to the riot to embrace diversity and celebrate the West Indian culture. These days, the carnival is one of the biggest in England attended by thousands of people every year which happens during the last weekend of August.

Notting Hill, London - Pinay Flying High

Notting Hill now is far from how it was based on its dark past. Maybe the Roberts-Grant movie made it more famous but with or without the movie, it’s absolutely lovely to see.

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Notting Hill Gate is the tube station serving this area. It’s best to visited throughout the week but the weekends (Friday but mainly Saturday) are nicer specially if you’re into antique and bargain hunting. The whole stretch of Portobello Road becomes the world famous Portobello Road Market with over a thousand dealers of antiques and collectibles. Market is open from 9am to 7pm on weekends.

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Learn the rags-to-riches history of Notting Hill, London - PinayFlyingHigh.com

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44 Comments

  • Reply Alex Datsev September 22, 2016 at 03:12

    Love places like this – glamorous today but with a dark past! Great post!

  • Reply Kevin Wagar September 20, 2016 at 20:16

    What an incredible history. I had no idea that Notting Hill had such a dark past!

  • Reply Janna September 20, 2016 at 10:58

    I cant believe that Notting Hill was once considered one of the worst areas in London! I always thought it was charming and beautiful especially in the movie starring Roberts-Grant. Love the stunning photos u have here!

  • Reply The Toronto Seoulcialite September 20, 2016 at 10:39

    I think the most beautiful areas of any large city are the ones which have been through trials. Gamcheon cultural village in Busan is the same way, although it hasn’t bounced back the same way. Notting Hill always seems romantic even with it’s history!

  • Reply Candy September 20, 2016 at 02:21

    Every time I see photo of Notting Hill, I dream about living there! The buildings, flowers, and bright colors are so dreamy 🙂 I had no idea that there was such a dark history behind Notting Hill.

  • Reply Soraya September 20, 2016 at 01:18

    Notting Hill looks so beautiful. It looks colorful and vibrant…very different from its history. I had NO idea about the history of Notting Hill, but its transformation is really incredible. I love the photo of the antique shop – it looks so cute and quaint. And the photos of the building with all the plants – awesome! I think I will really love this area and will have to put it on my list for when I am in Europe next year.

  • Reply Soraya September 20, 2016 at 01:18

    Notting Hill looks so beautiful. It looks colorful and vibrant…very different from its history. I had NO idea about the history of Notting Hill, but its transformation is really incredible. I love the photo of the antique shop – it looks so cute and quaint. And the photos of the building with all the plants – awesome! I think I will really love this area and will have to put it on my list for when I am in Europe next year.

  • Reply Gina September 20, 2016 at 01:10

    I love reading posts about the history of England. I had no idea Notting Hill used to be a slum and all the racism that took place there! I’m glad the carnival was started as a way to bring peace and harmony!

  • Reply Lisa September 19, 2016 at 22:35

    Oh wow, you’d definitely never guess about its past based on how it looks. What a grim beginning.

  • Reply Cori September 19, 2016 at 21:10

    It’s amazing how much neighborhoods can change over time! Thanks for sharing Notting Hill’s interesting history.
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  • Reply Brenda September 18, 2016 at 16:50

    loved the pictures and the insight on Notting Hill!

  • Reply Muna @ Strictly Lighthearted September 18, 2016 at 15:21

    Did I mention I was singing Ronan Keatings soundtrack from Notting Hill while reading this post?

  • Reply Muna @ Strictly Lighthearted September 18, 2016 at 15:19

    You’re really loving it out there, aren’t you …. Great, informative post! 🙂

  • Reply PINAYSKATTEBASSE September 18, 2016 at 14:22

    We should see the carnival together next year! Hahaha.
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  • Reply PINAYSKATTEBASSE September 18, 2016 at 14:21

    We go and see the carnival next year! 😛
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  • Reply Danielle - GeekGirlGoes September 18, 2016 at 13:19

    I had no idea that Notting Hill started out this way! I guess I do always picture it as it was in the movie! I’d love to go to Notting Hill Carnival one year though!

    • Reply Pinay Flying High September 19, 2016 at 18:36

      I don’t think a lot of people knew about its history. Lol. I was also surprised when I found out. :p

  • Reply Danielle - GeekGirlGoes September 18, 2016 at 13:19

    I had no idea that Notting Hill started out this way! I guess I do always picture it as it was in the movie! I’d love to go to Notting Hill Carnival one year though!

  • Reply Allison September 18, 2016 at 12:59

    I’ve wanted to go to Notting Hill ever since I saw the Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts movie. Many inner city suburbs in large cities started out rough before they became trendy. The pastel terraces are adorable 🙂

    • Reply Pinay Flying High September 19, 2016 at 18:37

      In the Philippines where I’m from, it’s the opposite. Many places start out as grand and then now it’s a slum area. Lol.

  • Reply Anonymous September 18, 2016 at 11:07

    Interesting info – I only know Notting Hill because of the movie so didn’t have any idea that it had a history like this.. Wanted to visit this area before but didn’t have time.. the photos here now makes me want to go back and visit here!!

  • Reply Anonymous September 18, 2016 at 11:01

    Nice post!! Not just interesting info but I love the photos.. Didn’t get to go here in my previous trip to London but hopefully will get to go here if I do visit again next time 🙂

  • Reply Miranda September 18, 2016 at 01:28

    Very interesting history. (Talk about gentrification!) All I knew of this place before was the movie so thanks for the enlightenment. I’ll try to visit next time I’m in the UK.

  • Reply Maja | Mexatia September 17, 2016 at 20:37

    Interesting history lesson! You have learned more about the festival very fast!
    Ps. We just saw Nothing Hill couple of days back 🙂
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    • Reply Pinay Flying High September 19, 2016 at 18:38

      I love learning the story behind of everything. It makes it more interesting. 🙂

  • Reply Maggie September 17, 2016 at 17:53

    Love the pictures! I’m heading to London in March and your post makes me excited to go. I’m still researching neighborhoods, but Notting Hill looks like a great option!

    • Reply Pinay Flying High September 19, 2016 at 18:39

      Oh yay! That’s awesome! I’m excited for you too. 🙂

  • Reply Tanja (the Red phone box travels) September 17, 2016 at 15:33

    interesting history! I love this part of London:)
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  • Reply Punita Malhotra September 17, 2016 at 11:27

    What a fascinating set of facts! Just a pretty place for me earlier ….but now much more character to it, in my mind after reading your post!
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    • Reply Pinay Flying High September 17, 2016 at 14:45

      I also didn’t know about any of these until I did my research the other day. It surprised me just the same. 🙂

  • Reply Eulanda September 17, 2016 at 10:43

    This is such a fantastic part of London, and not just because of the colourful, picturesque homes. It’s amazing to see how instrumental in helping to heal the conflict, and encourage diversity, the Notting Hill Carnival has been. It’s unfortunate that the residents of Kensington & Chelsea are in support of confining the festival to Wormwood Scrub park for only one day. Great post!

    • Reply Pinay Flying High September 17, 2016 at 14:46

      Didn’t know about the confining of the carnival to one area alone. I haven’t been to the carnival though, have you been?

  • Reply Lauren September 17, 2016 at 10:33

    I have lived in and around London for years and never knew any of this! Great post 🙂

    • Reply Pinay Flying High September 17, 2016 at 14:47

      Thank you Lauren. Thanks to my research about the place because I also didn’t know about any of these until just a few days ago. Lol.

  • Reply Photo Cache September 16, 2016 at 17:09

    Bucket list!
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  • Reply Yamuna September 16, 2016 at 13:13

    Wow, I had no idea about the history of Notting Hill! Good to learn.

    • Reply Pinay Flying High September 17, 2016 at 14:48

      It’s interesting to know that it had a really dark story. 🙂

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