Notting Hill Gate

notting hill gate

This is how Notting Hill Gate looked in the 1920s. It was described as one of the most fashionable shopping areas in London. The Metropolitan Railway station can just be seen on the right and the Central Line station is on the left, under the TUBE sign. Swing round 45° anticlockwise and you’re looking down Kensington Church Street, home to the ever fashionable Rowley Gallery.

quintessence family

This is how Notting Hill Gate sounded in 1969. It was all so exotic and appealing to a provincial teenager. I was sure this was where it was happening. Whenever I dreamed of running away to join the circus this was the soundtrack. How strange to wake 40 years later to find my destiny fulfilled and I’m the joiner at Rowley Gallery’s Framing Circus. Things still look great in Notting Hill Gate.

See more groovy photos here and here.

Frames of reference

9 thoughts on “Notting Hill Gate”

  1. I remember Notting Hill Gate between 1967 and 1970 because my then boyfriend lived at the bottom of Ladbroke Grove in Cambridge Gardens. What I remember most of all is the grandeur of the houses, coming from suburban south London as I did, despite the fact that many of them were quite run down. It was certainly exotic to me, the people were interesting, eccentric, even sometimes seedy and you could easily believe that Harry Palmer lived just up the road. I remember the protest outside the Russian Embassy and Tariq Ali shouting from the top of a van. Most of all I remember catching the last bus, the 52, from outside Ladbroke Grove underground station to Victoria Station and the journey across Kensington, down Kensington Church Street and past the Albert Hall when the streets were deserted and, more often than not the bus was empty apart from me and the conductor. Then it really felt as if London belonged to me and the sound of a muted trumpet is part of the soundtrack of those memories. Happy days indeed. The boy that I knew then died last year and now the thought of that time and place has become particularly powerful and poignant. Thank you for this reminder.

      1. No, he did not play trumpet. In fact he played bass guitar in a blues band, Shaky Vick’s Blues Band, which became The Nighthawks (not to be confused with the american band of the same name). The sound of a muted trumpet was actually part of a number of film soundtracks at the time. I was a huge film fan. It was a golden age of British film, but I’m thinking of many french films, “Vivre Pour Vivre”, “Un Homme et Une Femme” and films like “The Knack”. Many British films featured parts of London, moody, late night shots, wet pavements, run down buildings, all that regeneration in the eighties was yet to come. Railway stations still had gas lighting where I lived. Jazz was late night music, muted trumpets were jazz and soundtracks, it all becomes one and thus those images of London late at night are always associated with muted trumpets. Although I was not hugely impressed by the recent film of the Le Carre novel (spy novels are very much a part of the sixties zeitgeist too) ,”Tinker, Tailor…”, the soundtrack by Alberto Iglesias has it absolutely spot on, the essence of sixties London for me, and paticularly the brooding, seedy parts of Notting Hill and the lower end of Ladbroke Grove. If you want to know how it felt, the other side of swinging London, that’s it….and no, I never wore any flowers in my hair, and nor did I ever want to go to San Francisco.

        1. I can see and hear you on that night bus home. I think maybe that muted trumpet began with Miles Davis. There was a beautifully moody improvised soundtrack to Louis Malle’s film Ascenseur Pour L’Echafaud with Jeanne Moreau (I think she even came in the shop many years ago). I only discovered Miles Davis a year or so later, maybe 1970, after I’d taken the flowers out of my hair, and he eclipsed everything that went before.

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