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I am a bonafide Londoner which sometimes means I detest places that tourists flock to in my city. Maps and cameras in hand they tend to be irritatingly a pace or two behind the average walking speed of the slowest Londoner. They tend to clog up pavements and seem to wear permanent smiles which us, dreadfully harassed and depressed Londoners could barely manage. Perhaps the drip drip rain and dark days have finally managed to alter our DNA into a fine collective of moaners and whingers.
It was, therefore, with much trepidation that I allowed myself to be seduced by a hot summer’s day to step out into the world of non-Londoners in my city. The original plan was to head into central London, Oxford street, to indulge in my hobby – street photography. However, about half an hour after the bus 31 headed off from Camden town, I noticed a throng of what looked like holiday makers as I got into Notting Hill, West London. I knew Portobello road market was close by even though I had never been there.
I took a deep breath, got off the bus at the next stop, bought a bottle of coke which cost a fortune and started to tail the crowd. I was certain they’d lead me to Portobello road and they did.
As I walked onto the road I whipped out my camera and slowly began to be distracted by the architecture and multi coloured facades of Notting Hill leading into Portobello road proper.
I was in Notting Hill after all, a tiny corner of London made famous by Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts in the film Notting Hill. I did eventually catch sight of that famous bookshop.
My first snap on Portobello Road was of the vintage car (below) parked in front of a resident’s house. For a moment or two Cuba, the home of functioning vintage cars, did cross my mind. Portobello road of course is not nearly as old as Cuba, if you believe Cuba was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Portobello road came into existence in 1740. Up until then the road was called Green street.
There is an apparent structure to this famous road market that is noteworthy.
Portobello Road Market opening times
09:00 AM – 6:00 PM Mondays To Wednesdays 09:00 AM – 1:00 PM Thursdays 09:00 AM – 7:00 PM Fridays and Saturdays.
Fridays – second busiest market day
Southern part of the Portobello road – Antiques market Mid way through Portobello road – Food and Fashion markets Northern part of the Portobello road – vintage clothing & bric-a-brac markets Golborne Road – bric-a-brac, furniture and food markets
Saturdays – Busiest market day
Full street market on Portobello green, Westbourne grove and Goldborne road. Antiques, bric-à-brac, food, clothing, furniture, home furnishings and many more can be found from the southern tip to the northern tip of Portobello road.
Some vintage clothing and bric-a-brac can be found but generally quieter.
Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays
Fruit and veg, food and on a smaller scale the stalls that open on Fridays should keep the punters busy.
Portobello market closes by 1pm on Thursdays.
London street markets are my playground. From Camden street food market to Brick Lane street food market and a whole lot in between, the food and things to see are simply what gets tourists flying into London. Portobello road market, however, I soon discovered, is in a league of its own. The sheer scale of the market (especially) on a Saturday was overwhelming.
10 memorable experiences of this road market has probably been permanently etched on my memory.
List of my 10 Portobello road market experiences (click on the links for an in depth coverage)