The Portobello Road market is probably the most famous street market in London. Every weekend, tens of thousands of tourists flock to the Portobello Road area of Notting Hill to visit the fantastic market.
History of the Portobello Road Market
Portobello Road previously was a small street known as the Green Lane. It ran from the Portobello Farm through to Kensall Green. As wealthy inhabitants started to move to the Notting Hill area, Portobello Road quickly became a hub for shops and market traders. The road itself was well connected, meaning that it was easy for traders, buyers and suppliers to get to. In the mid-19th Century, the road connected to the Metropolitan Railway thanks to the Notting Hill station being opened (now called Ladbroke Grove).
Until the early 1940s, the market on Portobello Road mainly sold fruit, vegetables and other food items. Some traders also sold essential household items, such as cleaning products. However, the makeup of the market started to change in the mid-1940s due to an influx of “rag and bone” men who had started to trade in the area. These men resold second hand items, including general bric-a-brac and antique items. Up until the 1980’s, trade was relatively slow but steady.
During the mid-1980s, the character and demographics in Portobello Road began to change. Increased investment in the area transformed Portobello Road from a working class district into a fashionable and affluent area. The Portobello Road Market soon became known as the place to buy antique items in London. The market has its own Twitter and Facebook accounts, so interested parties can keep up to date with all of the latest information.
Portobello Road Market today
Portobello Road is still famous as an antiques market, with Saturday being the busiest day for buying and selling goods. However, the market still sells other goods and is usually divided into distinct areas to make it easier for shoppers to find what they are looking for.
Browsers may find secondhand goods in the area between Golborne Road and Westway, clothing and fashion accessories in the Westway area itself, household essential items from Westway to Talbot Road, vegetables, fruit and food items from Talbot Road upto Elgin Crescent, and antiques from Elgin Crescent upto Chepstow Villas. The market is considered an excellent place to buy street food, world cuisines and retro fashion items.
Sections of the market operate on all days except for Sundays, although some days are much busier than others. Permanent shops and cafes are open along the road every day of the week.
From Monday to Saturday, the market is open from 9am. On Friday and Saturday, the market normally closes at 7pm, whereas trading normally ceases at about 6pm from Monday to Wednesday. Thursday is a “half day” and the stalls are likely to pack up by around 1pm. Although the market normally operates on Good Friday, it is often closed on other Bank Holidays. It is worth checking the market’s social media accounts before visiting to find out about any planned events or unusual closing times.
Friday and Saturday are the best days for antique stall holders and food vendors. Visitors will also find arcade stalls on Saturdays only. Fruit, vegetables, fashion, clothing and accessories can be purchased throughout the week.
Getting to the Market
On its busiest days, the Portobello Road Market can be about a mile in length. Public transport directions may depend on which section of the market you wish to look around.
Those who are intending to walk for the whole length of the market are advised to arrive at Notting Hill Gate station (Central, Circle and District Line), which is about 10 minutes walk from the end of Portobello Road. Those who are looking to start from the other end of the market might consider arriving at Ladbroke Grove Station or Westbourne Park (both Circle line and Hammersmith & City). It takes under 10 minutes to walk to the market from these stations. All of these stations are situated in Zone 2. These tube stations can become very busy after 11.30am on a Saturday when the market is at its most popular.