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?
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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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