Portobello 150th anniversary


World-famous Portobello Market celebrated its 150-year anniversary this year. In commemoration, a special event was held on Saturday 30th May, with attractions including a costumed performance of Victorian songs by Radio Days Music, and a display of antique bicycles from the Veteran Cycle Club.

The market began in the 1860s, the name originating from a Spanish port in the Caribbean, Puerto Bello, which Admiral Sir Edward Vernon captured in 1739. In celebration, many areas were named after it, including a farm on ‘Green’s Lane’, which connected the Kensington Gravel Pits (now Notting Hill) with Kensal Green.

In 1864, the farm was sold to an order of nuns, who turned it into a convent and began to sell milk and produce. When the Hammersmith & City Line was completed in the same year, and Ladbroke Grove Station opened, new people came into the area, such as the Irish, Jewish and Spanish, and so the variety of goods found at the market changed.

In the 1930s many antique dealers began to do business in the market; something it is now famous for. It grew even further when, after the Second World War Caledonian Market in Islington shut down and many of the traders working there moved to Portobello.

It was the award-winning 1999 film Notting Hill that put the area firmly on the map and changed its image forever. It is now a favoured tourist hotspot and draws in crowds from all over the world; a far cry from its historical working-class reputation.

In recent times there have been concerns that the area’s character may be getting lost, with the opening of many chain stores and cafes, and a Facebook page called ‘Save the Portobello Road Market’ has reached 38 thousand ‘likes’, demonstrating the passion people have for the area and its unique character. .

Portobello’s 150-year anniversary will be celebrated throughout the year, focusing on a different aspect of the market each month. Join in by sharing your photos on social media with the hashtag #pogo2015.

Article submitted by Genevieve Hawks 

About author