John de Prey’s Notting Hill

John de Prey‘s pictures of Notting Hill in 1971, made when he stayed for a few months with a friend in Powis Square in 1971, show some of the more interesting sides of daily life down the Portobello Road and elsewhere in an article in the International Times archive, and you can see more of his work on his Flikr site, serious but unabashed, though its a shame there is only one or two more from Notting Hill among the 150 in his ‘United Kingdom‘ album. Not that some of the other images aren’t of interest, though it would be nice to have more information with some of the pictures, including some taken by others.

Most of his other work is in colour and what broadly might be called travel photography, much of it from the Indian sub-continent, and of rather less interest to me. The Notting Hill pictures were I think made when he was fairly young and fairly new to photography and show an appealing freshness and directness.

I suspect I may be around the same age as de Prey, or perhaps a year or two older, but from a rather different social milieu, and it was a total lack of funds that meant I was only really able to start taking photographs seriously in my mid-twenties. And it was many years later that I first went to Notting Hill, though I think it had perhaps changed relatively little by 1987 when I took a few pictures there, including this one on the Portobello Road:

Back in the 1970s, Notting Hill to most people still meant the 1958 race riots and Rachman. The media were always keen to seize on any violent incidents, particularly around carnival and give them maximum publicity, and it was an area most Londoners avoided.

Now it is generally swamped by tourists, and many of the old shops and pubs have gone or been changed out of recognition. The main language I heard on the streets visiting there recently was Italian – and even some of those sitting begging on the streets had notices written in that language. The biggest change came of course with the 1999 film ‘Notting Hill‘, but for some years there had been increasing emphasis on Carnival as a spectacle rather than just the crime statistics. But even when I first went to Carnival back at the start of the 1990s there were people who told me I would get attacked and knifed and have my camera stolen and told me I would be mad to go.

It wasn’t of course true. Though like any large public event it makes sense to be careful and not to make life easy for pickpockets, and to be careful not to antagonise people. But for most people Carnival was a great day out and they came to enjoy themselves and were happy to be photographed – as I think you can see from the pictures in my ‘Notting Hill Carnival in the 1990s‘, still available at only £6 plus postage.


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.