Trendy Notting Hill is home to one of London’s most famous markets. Hundreds of stalls display their wares along the one-kilometre stretch of Portobello Road. There are different markets on different days, including new and vintage clothing, household goods, fruit and vegetables and, the most popular of all, antiques. There are also pubs, cafés and restaurants. The neighbourhood is very diverse, with many cultural influences. It is colourful, too: rows of Victorian houses are painted in a cheerful range of pastel shades.

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puerto bello

Portobello Road looked very different three centuries ago. Back then, it was known as Green’s Lane. It was a country country path used by farmers, surrounded by open fields. A farmhouse was built in 1740 on today’s Golborne Road, called Portobello Farm. It was named after Puerto Bello, a Spanish town in Panama captured by the British. The British navy was led by Admiral Edward Vernon. Many places were named after the battle of Puerto Bello and Admiral Vernon. Even today, there is an Admiral Vernon Antiques Arcade and a road called Vernon Yard.

Fruit and vegetables

In the mid-1800s, the area began to change. Paddington and Notting Hill had become wealthy areas with elegant terraces and crescents. Then a station was built in Ladbroke Grove, on the new Metropolitan Railway. Housing was built for the labourers, domestic staff, tradesmen and other blue-collar workers. A pub opened, called The Elgin. Fruit, vegetables and other goods were sold to the working-class residents on market stalls. Portobello Road was not rich, but it was thriving.

The antiques market arrived most recently, in the mid-20th century. Today, it is the biggest of its kind in the UK. It comprises around fifty street stalls, with more antiques sold inside, in shops and in private arcades. More than a thousand dealers sell all kinds of antique goods, from ancient treasures to bric-à-brac.

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seven days, seven markets

Portobello Road Market has a different character each day of the week. Saturday is the busiest day, when all the markets are open. Street performers entertain the crowds. Food and drinks are served. From Friday to Sunday, the stalls under the Westway flyover sell vintage and new fashion. Monday to Thursday is mostly for residents, with fruit and vegetables, second-hand goods, household goods and clothing. There are no street stalls on Sundays, but many shops are open.