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Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Secret History of Our Streets.

Portland Road, Notting Hill, London in the BBC Two series The Secret History of Our Streets.

“Like all the trendy areas in London it is just lived in by investment bankers now, which is very boring,” says the not-at-all boring Henry Mayhew, in this edition of the series on London’s streets, which focuses on the super-smart Portland Road area of Notting Hill.
Scion of a wealthy banking family himself, Mr Mayhew is acidly amusing on the “battery chicken” lifestyle of London’s international banker set, why he chose to buy in Portland Road (“My wife forced me into it”) and why he is selling up to go live in a shipping container in a forest.
But even he has never crossed the invisible border between the multi-million pound end of Portland Road, and the vastly poorer, socially deprived end of the street just a hundred yards away – a legacy of the fact that Portland Road was once one of the worst slums in Britain. Embodying the weird social divisions that can exist cheek by jowl in London, residents past and present, from both ends of the street and the social spectrum, bring Portland Road’s history to life in a film exploring the ebb and flow of wealth, and snobbery, that has washed up and down this street ever since it was built in the 1850s.

"What a fantastic programme. It was such a good example of how council planners can wreck a whole community with their shortsighted arrogance. Its obvious that the heart was ripped out of this community and families split up. You can never rebuild that."

A portrait of Charles Booth.

The Secret History Of Our Streets by Joseph Bullman

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