History < The Development
The next eight years will witness remarkable change in the area surrounding Portobello Square as the development gets underway and the historic street patterns are restored.
It’s a far cry from the area’s original humble beginnings when it was part of the Great Forest of Middlesex, an ancient woodland that was inhabited by stags, does, boars and wild bulls. By the middle of the 15th century the forest had been cleared and replaced with meadows and farmland. This area of land was later seized in 1543 by Henry VIII. The area continued as farmland up until the 1870s with the shops and houses of Notting Hill (then known as the Kensington Gravel Pits) only extending as far as Elgin Crescent and farmland continuing north beyond that point right up to the village of Kensal Green on the Harrow Road. At this time Portobello Road was simply a rough country track known as Portobello Lane although by 1880, Portobello Lane was beginning to be lined with shops and regular fruit and vegetable traders.
The rural character of the area began to change with the opening of the Grand Union canal in 1801 and the Great Western Railway in 1838 both helping to define the northern and western boundaries of the Golborne area. By 1850 Kensal New Town was largely formed and was known as a ‘laundry colony’ as this was the main occupation of the neighbourhood. The population was predominantly Irish at this time.
Before the 1870s Golborne Road was just a footpath leading from Portobello Road to Kensal Road but it was now planted with trees and called Britannia Road after a pub of that name. Later the trees were cut down and the road was firstly renamed Golborne and then Golborne Road. The population and growth of shops, houses and pubs grew rapidly in the 1870s and 1880s. By 1890 the area was covered by traditional Victorian terraced streets with both Portobello Road and Wornington Road linked to Ladbroke Grove, however the growing population quickly exceeded the housing availability so that by 1903 the area was full of slums.
This all changed in the 60s and 70s when the slums were cleared and new developments built including the Wornington Green estate (the site of Portobello Square) and Trellik Tower. It was during this time that the road linking Wornington Road to Ladbroke Grove was blocked off to vehicles.
Since then the wider area has attracted many newcomers creating the vibrant, culturally diverse character for which it is famous. Spanish and Portuguese rub shoulders with people from Somalia, Eritrea and the Sudan and it has become home to the largest Moroccan population in England with many of them settling in the Golborne area.