This isn’t strictly speaking Holborn, either – rather like Camden Lock – but if you take a Central Line Tube to Notting Hill Gate it doesn’t take long to get there. However, it’s much more relaxing to go there on a sunny Saturday and spend a few hours grazing amongst the stalls. It is fun, busy, colourful and there might be bargains in there somewhere.
I wanted to go and see Portobello Road before the developers moved in, put up rents to drive out the existing tenants and demolished all the rather seedy, elderly wooden buildings that line the street, in favour of high-paying multinational company-owned boutiques.
Some think this would be much more in line with the quality of the borough, to have high class, expensive shopping facilities here, but what a loss to London it would be! In spite of how close it is to the Regency mansions that crowd its environs, Portobello Road will never be a Regent Street.
Quite apart from being a street market, Portobello Road does have real people living there. This house below, one of the multi-coloured cottages near the top of the street, was where George Orwell lived. He was the anti-authoritarian author of “Animal Farm” and “1984”. The market is remarkable for attracting mostly the English – there are very few tourists.
Portobello Road is described in the literature as the biggest antiques street market in the world. When you step out of the Tube station and stand at the top of the street, there are two rows of buildings down a narrow road absolutely filled with people. It’s quite a sight. Julia, surely the name of the beautiful vendor below, was selling scarves.