Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Holland Park

This is the 36th station I have visited on the Central Line. Holland Park was opened in 1900 and was recently closed so that the 30 yr old lifts could be replaced. There are no escalators here so if you don't like lifts then it's a walk up 110 steps.

Some of the signage from the 1950s still remains alongside the more familiar Underground signs.

 The original green tiles are still in place in the ticket hall.
 The station was built as a single storey building with the idea that commercial buildings would be built above the station but that never happened.

On leaving the station I turned right past The Castle pub, established in 1827 and still going strong today.

 A little further on you pass a number of small independent shops and cafes including Lidgate's butchers. It has been here for 150 years and is run by the fifth generation of Lidgates. It is well known for its quality meats sourced from free range and organic farms and estates.
I turned off Holland Park Ave on to one of the many roads that are part of the Norland Estate which was built from 1839 onwards. A census is taken every ten years in the UK and tells us quite a lot about life at that time. The census of 1851 tells us that none of these Italianate stucco houses were sub divided and that one third of the population here were domestic servants. The householders were made up of doctors, lawyers, diplomats, merchants and stockbrokers. There were six schools in the tall houses of Norland Square and Royal Crescent. Nowadays those professions are joined by celebrities such as the Beckhams

Royal Crescent was laid out in 1846 using a similar format to the Royal Crescent in Bath and Regent's Park Crescent.

Holland Park Mews

On the corner of Norland Square is an Edward VII pillar box. About 6% of UK boxes have the ER VII cypher. He reigned from 1901-10

These boxes were the first to introduce the crown above the monarch's cypher. This has continued to the present day.
A short walk from Norland Square brings you to Addison Ave and the area around St James's Church. Take away the cars and road signs and you feel as though you have gone back in time. The old street  lamp posts once lit by gas have not been replaced but I assume have been converted to electricity.

St James's Church was built between 1844 and 1855. The developer Charles Richardson gifted the land for the church to the Church Commissioners thinking that the houses he had built would be more saleable if the residents had access to their own adjacent church.

He also set up these woodland style gardens, surrounding the church, for the benefit of the residents who were, and still are, required to maintain them.

Opposite the gardens is the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue. Founded in the early 1900s by West London's Sephardi immigrant community, it is one of the oldest synagogues in London.

Leaving St James's Gardens I turned left onto St Anne's Road  where the old meets the new.

Turning right onto Queensdale Road I found another place of worship, a Gurdwara. This Sikh Temple, Khalsa Jatha, is the Central Gurdwara for London and was the first to be founded in the UK. It was formed in 1908 but did not move into these premises until 1969. The domes were added in the early 1990s.

I walked back to Holland Park Ave via Norland Road. This area was pedestrianised in 1883 and is a popular walk through.

Looking back towards the Gurdwara.

I am now on the other side of Holland Park Ave on my way to Holland Park. This is Abbotsbury Road, full of large mansions. I had to walk back to this one as I noticed a couple of sculptures on the portico over the door.

Could these really be Anthony Gormley figures? As this is a private house I couldn't find any information about them on the internet but I have seen enough Gormley figures to be almost certain these are  genuine.

On the other side of the road is Debenham House. Built in 1905 for the department store owner Ernest Debenham. The exterior is clad in Royal Doulton Carrera marble and the inset panels are made from blue and green Burmantoft bricks. The colour makes it stand out on the road. The building is currently surrounded by hoardings but as this is a Grade 1 listed building there won't be any major changes.

I continued walking until I came to to the entrance to Holland Park, a gem of a park in West London. It is spread over 55 acres of what used to be the grounds of Cope Castle, a large Jacobean Mansion hidden in the woods. It was built by Sir Walter Cope in 1605

It was renamed Holland House after the Earl of Holland's wife inherited the property.

The House  was badly damaged during the Second World War and only one wing remained which until recently was used as a youth hostel. Another section is the backdrop for operas in the park.

The park is divided into three distinct areas, woodland with wildlife in the North, the Grade 1 listed remains of Holland House and formal gardens in the centre.

The once summer ballroom of Holland House is now a very upmarket restaurant, the Belvedere. Apparently opulent and beautiful inside but very expensive.

The Kyoto garden was built to celebrate the Japan festival in London in 1992.

It was pouring with rain as I walked through the park, even the peacock was sheltering. Definitely time to go home.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Notting Hill Gate

The Central line is the third deepest line on the Underground and here at Notting Hill Gate you need to travel up three long escalators to get to the surface.

You can also get the District and Circle line from this station but those lines run above the central line at sub-surface level.

The road the station is on is called Notting Hill Gate named from the toll gate that operated here between 1769 and 1864. The road was redeveloped in the 1950s with two large tower blocks built on either side of the road.

However, behind the main road, just a couple of hundred metres from the station are these delightful 18th cent cottages.

Just around the corner from the cottages on Uxbridge Street is this interesting looking building. I discovered that it was originally built as the Duke of Sussex Public House and then converted to Duke of Sussex studios and then the Dreamtime studios, a fine art dealer and gallery. Its new life is a three bedroomed property with a roof terrace. In 2010 this was on the market to rent for £15,167 per month!

Back on Notting Hill Gate is the Notting Hill Coronet. Previously a theatre, it was converted into a cinema in 1923. Twice it has been saved from demolition and finally its future has been secured as an independent cinema. This is not the only cinema, as nearby is The Gate which opened in 1911.

I crossed back over Notting Hill Gate. This is the view to my right looking towards Notting Hill.

Whilst the view to the left towards Holland Park is completely different
The housing in this area is well cared for and ranges from cottages to six floor mansions.

I followed Ladbroke Grove which brought me out at Ladbroke Square. In the centre of the square is the largest private communal garden in London. There are numerous communal squares in this area but all are private. So basically you need to live here to be able to use them. No sitting and having a picnic there for me.
The only view I could get was through the railings. The view from the outside gives you some idea how large this garden happens to be.

It was in 1821 that James Ladbroke and his architect began plans to build an estate in this area. However Notting Hill was too far from London for a large housing estate to be viable. Instead this site at the top of Notting Hill, where St John's Church is situated, became a viewpoint for spectators watching the horses race at Hippodrome race course. There was much local opposition to the racecourse  and it closed in 1841 by which time pressure for more housing returned and the estate was built. The hippodrome's shape can still be seen in the circular roads around the hill.

There is very little to remind us of the Hippodrome other than a couple of road names. This is Hippodrome Place. Close by on Walmer Road is one of the few examples left in London of a bottle kiln. During the 19th century this was a slum area known as 'the potteries  and piggeries' . High quality clay was dug here and used for brick making. the bricks and tiles were stored in sheds lining Pottery Lane and fired in large kilns such as the one.

As well as the brick makers a large number of pig keepers moved into the area who had been forced to move away from Marble Arch and Tottenham Court Road as London expanded. With fresh water and sanitation scarce the area soon became a slum. The pig keepers tended to live in hovels alongside their pigs.

Nowadays the houses in Pottery Lane sell for seven figure sums.

Mention Notting Hill now and people are more likely to think of the romantic comedy of the same name starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts rather than a slum area of the 19th cent.

Not far from Pottery Lane is Rosmead Garden. It is these private, communal gardens that the two main characters in the film, climb into for a romantic evening.
Unlike them I wasn't willing to climb over the railings to get a decent photo so you'll have to make do with these.

The main location for the filming of Notting Hill was Portobello Road. This road is famous for its antiques market which is one of the largest in the UK. The road runs the length of Notting Hill from North to South with shops and stalls selling not just antiques but clothes, books, vinyl records and jewellery.

As well as the antique dealers and food stalls it has its artisan bakeries,  coffee shops and restaurants. But the most surprising feature for me was the colourful houses. Similar houses around Queensway and Lancaster Gate are all painted white, but here they range from delicate pastel shades to vibrant primary colours.

The blue circular plaque on this house tells us that George Orwell(1903-1950) the author lived here.

Lots of colourful characters to be seen as well.

This is the Electric Cinema. It first opened on Portobello Road in 1910 and has been in almost continual use since,  making it one of the oldest working cinemas in the country.

Notting Hill is also famous for its Carnival. Held every year for two days during the August Bank holiday it is now the biggest street carnival in the world. During those two days this year over 2,000,000 people visited the streets around Portobello Road and Ladbrook Grove to watch the carnival parades and enjoy the music and food. There is much discussion about whether or not it should continue in the confined space of the streets or whether it should be moved to one of the large parks. The history of the Carnival began with Claudia Jones in 1959 who organised an annual carnival in St Pancras Town Hall in response to the 1958 August Bank Holiday Notting Hill riots.  The carnival took to the streets for the first time in 1968.

Walking back to the tube station along Colville Road I came across Turquoise Island, a traffic island, surrounded by three roads with their colourful shops.

The original council plans for this traffic island did not impress local resident, John Scott so he commissioned modernist architect Piers Gough to design a structure that would incorporate public toilets, a kiosk style shop, a clock and somewhere for people to sit. Built in 1993 it is half toilet and half florist, clad in bright turquoise tiles with a beautiful fan like canopy.