As the 50th anniversary of Carnival approaches, we asked 14 Notting Hill residents to share their favourite memories of this diverse area
Charlie Phillips, photographer
I was in my darkroom one afternoon, and I heard all this singing and dancing outside. At ﬁrst I thought it was a riot. Then I came out, and saw all these people merry and cheerful. This was the very ﬁrst shot I took. It was Carnival, and everybody was up for it then, from a grass roots level, because it was the ﬁrst real one, where you got to know your next-door neighbour. It used to be such a diverse community, and still is. This was the ﬁrst time that whole community came out for a real song and dance together, and it has become an iconic image of mine now.
Lauren Adriana, jewellery designer
I came to Notting Hill at sixteen to attend DLDCollege when it was on Pembridge Square. During my first week I went and visited a friend of mine who was working at Paul Smith Westbourne House on the top floor. I was looking out of the window when Robbie Williams appears in the window of the building opposite. He smiles, waves – then turns around and drops his pants to moon me. It was a swift induction into what life in the area could be like!
Barney Desmazery, Food Editor, BBC Good Food Magazine
Growing up in Notting Hill has had a big influence on me as a cookery writer. My Saturday jobs included barrow boy for legendary stallholder Cheryl Devlin, helping out on the ahead-of-its-time coffee roasting stall that would become the coffee plant and working in the chocolate department at Barkers Kensigton (now Whole Foods) serving violet creams to old ladies with mauve hair. When I went to catering college (pre- amazon) having Books for Cooks as my library gave me the upper hand. Mix all the above with a handful of Garcia’s, Lisboa Patisserie, carnival food and 192 and you’ve got yourself a very tasty career.
Colin Salmon, actor
My memories of Notting Hill are often related to music: Seeing Rip Rig and panic at the Electric Cinema live in ‘85, Carnival and the huge sound systems massaging my heart, Panorama and the virtuosity of Steel Pan… dancing in the streets with pure joy. There were great nights in Prostons; a garage by day and occasional dancehall at night. I myself began busking on Portobello in the summer of ‘86 and the characters I met spoke of Dudu Pukwana, Joe Harriot, the London life of Marvin Gaye and so much more. And today Portobello Panto’s boardy reminder that this is a place of dreams and resistance, where we can sup with free spirits and dine with Kings.
Nigel House, Manager at Rough Trade
Our favourite ever intern has to be Adele. After her first album had come out and before she had recorded 21, her manager asked if we would be interested in having having her as an intern. She was a regular customer anyway, so we were fine about it. So she comes in to discuss the finer details; I say to her that she will be treated like any other intern and that we would rely on her being reliable, and so we agreed on Thursdays being her regular day. ‘That’s fine’, she said, ‘but really sorry, I won’t be able to do next Thursday – I’m playing the Hollywood Bowl’…It all worked out really well – she was lovely to work with, always punctual, super reliable and very enthusiastic.
Richard Young, Photographer
I first moved into the area in 1974 when I came back to London after four years in America. I originally came from Hackney and really didn’t fancy going back there, I had always dreamed of living in Notting Hill, and eventually found myself living on Stoneleigh Street W10. I very quickly discovered Julie’s Wine Bar. Lots of late boozy nights drinking the famous Julie’s red wine! They were fantastic days that went into wonderful drunken evenings. I made lots of friens in the area and one guy Craig Copetas that I met at Julie’s, an American working for Rolling Stone Magazine, was instrumental in me becoming a photographer. He introduced me to Paul Getty Junior, my shot of him was the first photograph I had published. After a few weeks I took an exclusive shot of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and the sales from that enabled me to by my first house on The St Quinten’s Estate. I still live in on Highever Road, so that’s nearly 40 years!
Sophie Conran, designer
I first moved to Notting Hill in 1983 at the tender age of 18, renting a lovely 1st floor room with a balcony in a friend’s house on Kildare Terrace. Together we started a supper club on Thursday evenings, with me at the stove and him as the host. Our guests, now luminaries of the art and fashion worlds, paid a princely £10 per head, and brought plenty of booze to lubricate the evenings. We always spent more on the food than we ever made, but the shopping, prepping and putting the whole thing together was fantastic fun, and the evenings always tinkled along into the early morning.
Fiona Hawthorn, Artist
I have so many happy memories around Notting Hlill Carnival, especially of carnival prep…the fun and laughter when people of all ages and backgrounds come together to invest time, energy and creativity into preparing for just one weekend of craziness and reclaiming the streets. One year we made 400 windsock fish. From initial scribbles on paper, to seeing the finished special was an adventure – fabric sourced via ebay when a high-end cycling wear factory relocated to china, and the guy from up North who donated several old parachutes. Green, purple and white adorned with streamers and sequins, the fish looked extraordinary attached to tall poles; moving, dancing shoals held high in the sky coming down Ladbroke Grove on Carnival Sunday, the audience pointing and smiling and capturing the spectacle on their phones and cameras – the joy of mad ideas that work!
Tessa Grazzini, designer, Assya London
Notting Hill never stops to surprise me. It is a true destination place ! I remember about five years ago when three black vans parked in front of my shop. In a whirlwind my shop was filled with 50 people dressed in black. The door was shut and the Princess of Thailand was sitting on the sofa having pictures taken of herself with the jewellery. She chose a few pieces and as fast as they came in they went out. My neighbours standing on their doorsteps where just as bewildered as they watched.
Frank Roche, Graffik Gallery
Many people consider the East the centre of graffiti in London but it really started around West London, especially near Portobello Road. One of the biggest surviving Banksy’s on any wall in London (that hasn’t been stolen or sold in an auction house in the US) is on the corner of our block on Portobello Road. Tourists from every corner of the world pop in and ask us where it is. We were lucky as we opened our doors four years ago just as The Mutoid Waste Company opened their amazing exhibition/art installation One Foot in the Grove just under the Westway. This gave our business the chance to engage immediately with Street Art lovers and also meet the many artists that don’t normally come West!
Stevie Thomas, The Rum Kitchen co-founder
Having lived in Notting Hill for a few years, I have fond memories of many late nights spent enjoying the bars along Portobello Road. A particular memory was a few summers ago, when I lived on Talbot Road, not far from where The Rum Kitchen is – escaping from Carnival and watching the crowds swell below from our rooftop. On another occasion I spent a long evening chatting with a friend at the Grand Union, and we somehow found ourselves on a houseboat eating the captain’s breakfast! Notting Hill is a such a vibrant area, especially in the summer so I am looking forward to seeing what adventures unfold at The Rum Kitchen.
Gaz Mayall, musician, Notting Hill Carnival
The ﬁrst time I went to Carnival was in 1976, the year the riots ﬁrst broke out. I’ve never missed one since. It was a huge event but was policed badly. It was the ﬁrst of its kind and unfortunately a few knock-on effects echoed out through the following years. It wasn’t really indicative of the carnival but of the political and racial tension at the time. The bulk of the change has been in the last 20 years and it has gone right up. By ‘89 my brother and I had landed a full-time pitch outside The Globe where we have been to this day. In that ﬁrst year, there was just a record player and a couple of speakers. Now we have thousands of people gravitating to where we are. They hang out with us all day long as it’s a little ray of sunshine. I still really love it. It’s a fabulous multi-cultural gathering; the biggest street party in Europe and the whole world’s invited.
Heather Farrar, Painter
When I ﬁrst came to Notting Hill Gate in 1973, I fell in love with Portobello Road and lived round the corner. I had a little Mini and didn’t even think about locking it but someone took all my things. In those days we had something called 8 Tracks, enormous cassettes and they were all stolen. I thought no more of it until about four days later when a plastic bag arrived on my doorstep with a little note that was quite badly spelt saying, ‘sorry, took your tapes – didn’t know you were local!’
Jasmine Guinness, co-founder, Honeyjam
My co-founder Honey and I have too many lovely memories of Portobello to put them all in! Honey and Milo (her husband), chose her engagement ring at Portobello Gold, which is sadly no more, and we all remember regularly going to The Globe, which is still alive and kicking. Not to mention the Carnival every year. We think our favourite memory so far has been the opening of Honeyjam. It was such fun to start out and we spent all night the day before we opened, unpacking boxes of amazing toys and trying to ﬁgure out how we would ﬁt it all in. It has been exciting to get to know our customers and see their children grow up. We are so grateful to our customers for being so loyal and supportive of their local, independent shops!