One hundred and thirty years after a patriotic farmer named the then country lane, after Admiral Vernon’s capture of the city of Puerto Bello in the Caribbean in 1739, houses and shops formed almost continuous line on each side of the road.
Sir William Bull described the market in the following way “on Saturday nights in the winter it was thronged like a fair. The people overflowed from the pavement so that the roadway was quite impassable for horse traffic which, to do it justice, never appeared. On the left hand side there were costermongers barrows, lighted by flaming naphtha lamps. In the side streets were side shows, vendors of patent medicines, conjurors, itinerant vocalists, etc.”
After the end of the 2nd World War there were many “rag and bone” men in the area who would sell goods on the market stalls. Such were the stupendous bargains to be found that it developed a reputation amongst those in the know as the place to find and buy antiques. As a result the antique trade developed, profiting often from amateurs who came to sell on a Saturday bringing useful stock which would be snapped up by the more knowledgeable professional dealers.
Portobello Road Antique Market is a world renowned antique dealers and collectors market comprising over 1,300 traders in a 300 metre area.
They open at different times to allow crowd of buyers who move from one market to another. The Good Fairy Antiques Market is the busiest market of them all, opening every Saturday at 4 a.m. Many of the buyers are specialists who appreciate the fresh stock brought into the market each week from the other parts of the country.
The quality of the goods sold ranges from museum grade pieces to the kind of bric-a-brac found in flea markets, with very competitive prices.
Later in the day crowds of tourists shuffle past the rows of pastel painted terraced cottages at the Notting Hill end of the road weaving slowly past the market stalls.
The market has an extraordinary draw on people from far and near, fulfilling some kind of human need, presumably on an emotional level.
Abridged from article on http://www.goodfairyantiques.co.uk.