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150 Years of Portobello and Golborne Road Markets

Celebrating 150 years of Portobello and Golborne Road Markets. Models wearing vintage from Portobello traders. Council Leader Cllr Nick Paget-Brown (middle), Donn Letts (right) photo press launch

Celebrating 150 years of Portobello and Golborne Road Markets. Models wearing vintage from Portobello traders. Council Leader Cllr Nick Paget-Brown (middle), Donn Letts (right)

Yesterday officially marked the start of monthly celebrations to commence, which herald 150 magical years of Portobello and Golborne Road markets. I was of course delighted to attend alongside my wee daughter Ruby, who enjoyed receiving her fair share of attention. It wasn’t the first time i’ve met the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s Mayor Cllr Maighread Condon-Simmonds. The first time was when she visited Portobello’s Flash Fashion event where we were running a photo booth for the Golden Jubilee celebrations. As charming as Portobello itself, she is clearly proud to be celebrating the importance of Portobello & Golborne Road Markets.

“We are delighted to celebrate Portobello and Golborne Road Market’s 150th year. It has evolved over the years from stalls selling milk, fresh fruit and vegetables to second hand clothes, fashion, literature, antiques, street food and leisure goods. We’re looking forward to next 150 years’ trading and to ensure it is on a sound footing going forward the Council has invested in the area including adding new market pitches and improving the public realm. Our markets team work with traders and local suppliers to promote Road Food events to showcase the importance of food to the market and we are working with our local schools to introduce the next generation of traders.”


Yesterday’s focus was highlighting the influential power of vintage and fashion. Portobello Road has become synomous with London Fashion and Style with big names such as Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith and Cath Kidston all having connections with the market.

We also heard from local resident and legendary BBC Radio 6 DJ, Donn Letts  (I’m a big fan. Monday mornings is all about Donn Letts on catch-up!).  He looked nostalgically at the importance of the markets and the role that they play within the local community, describing them as “the glue that keeps it all together.”

Change is inevitable and high streets like Portobello and Goldborne Road must move with the times, but in doing so the heritage of Portobello and Golborne will thankfully not be forgotten. Throughout the year there will be special events taking place at the markets to celebrate. Keep reading for more info.

5 facts about the History of Portobello Market

  1. Portobello Road Market dates back to the early 1860s. The life of the market began with nuns that lived on Portobello Farm. They used to sell milk and produce.
  2. Portobello Road gets its name from Portobello Farm that was on the site of the Spanish School at the northern end of the road. The farm, in turn, was named after Admiral Vernon’s capture of the city of Puerto Bello in the Caribbean.
  3. In 1864 what we now know as Ladbroke Grove Station, was built which brought in new people and residents that changed the variety of goods found at the market. Irish navies who worked on the railway came as well as Jews & Spanish who came to reside here.
  4. Antiques arrived after the 2nd world war and they took over the Nottinghill end of Portobello Road. Rag and bone men salvaged junk from bombed housed and sold it on the market.
  5. Portobello Rd Market has famously been featured in many films, TV and novels. Bed Knobs and Broomsticks, Nottinghill, The Witch of Portobello. Even Paddington Bear enjoyed visiting Portobello Market.
150 magical years of Portobello & Golborne with special events throughout the year

150 magical years of Portobello & Golborne with special events throughout the year

Upcoming Events to celebrate 150 Years of Portobello and Golborne Road Markets

February – Vintage fashion and accessories
London Fashion Week 20 to 24 February

March – Books and literature
World Book Day 5 March, World Storytelling Day 20 March, World Poetry Day 21 March

April – Music
Record Store Day 18 April

May – Love Your Local Market
Love Your Local Market 13 May to 27 May
Market tours with the markets manager and markets development officer

June – Arts and culture
InTRANSIT Festival 18 to 27 June. Empty Classroom Day 19 June

July – Community
Golborne Road Festival 19 July

August – Carnival
Notting Hill Carnival 30 to 31 August

September – New fashion and accessories
London Fashion Week 18 to 22 September

October – English apples and autumn harvest
National Apple Day 21 October

November – Antiques
Christmas lights switch-on 14 November, Global Entrepreneurship Week 16 to 22 November

December – Gifts
Small Business Saturday 5 December

Road Food is a community engagement programme that amplifies the vitality, energy and interactivity of Portobello and Golborne Road markets through cooking demonstrations, food preparation and sampling. It evolved from the market’s first English Apple Festival in 2009, which was supported by business development managers at New Covent Garden, New Spitalfields, and Western International markets.


By Katie Ingham, I Love Markets Founder

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