Portobello Road

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Portobello Road

Portobello Road is a road in the Notting Hill district of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in west London. Portobello Road Market is one of the world's most famous markets, internationally renowned for its second-hand and antique sections. The market consistently ranks in the top ten most visited tourist sites in London.


[edit] Name derivation

Portobello Road's name derives from a popular victory during the War of Jenkins' Ear, when, in 1739, Admiral Edward Vernon captured the Spanish silver exporting town of what was then Puerto Bello in New Granada, (now known as Portobelo in modern-day Panama). Several commemorative names resulted from Vernon's victory, one of them being Portobello Farm in this area of London and, in turn, the lane leading to it which later became known as Portobello Road.

[edit] History

Portobello Road is very much a construct of the Victorian era. Before about 1850, it was little more than a country lane connecting Portobello Farm with 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 nineteenth century, nestling between the large new residential developments of 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.

[edit] Portobello Road today

Today, Portobello Road's distinctiveness does not just rely on its world-famous market. A wide range of communities inhabiting the street itself and the surrounding 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.

[edit] Geography

The road's elevation descends from 84 feet (25.6 metres) above sea level at the northern end, the highest point, to a lowest point of 65 feet (19.8 metres), just south of the overpasses, after which elevation rises and falls, before reaching a high point of 78 feet (23.8 metres) at the southern end. The average grade of ascent or descent between the northern end and the lowest point is about 1.77 percent.

The closest tube stations (in order of proximity) are:

  1. Ladbroke Grove
  2. Westbourne Park
  3. Notting Hill Gate
  4. Holland Park

[edit] Popular culture

  • "Portobello Road" is also the name of a Cat Stevens song, as well as the theme of the Dire Straits song "Portobello Belle".
  • In the comic novel The Chinese Agent (1970), sci-fi author Michael Moorcock portrays Portobello Road as a sort of super-organism with a collective consciousness--a reference to the way the merchants look out for each other to prevent theft. When an international jewel thief who's never been caught tries to nick a brooch off a stall, he's spotted instantly and hunted down.
  • The street was also menitoned in a Blair song "Have Fun, Go Mad", theme song to 1990's film Dunston Checks In.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

nl:Portobello Road

Portobello Road

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