Ask anyone from local to tourist to name a film associated with Notting Hill and the answer will be the same, Richard Curtis’s 1999 hit blockbuster ‘Notting Hill’. The film really put the area on the global map but the area has a rich history with the bright lights of Hollywood.
In 1969, decades before the film ‘Notting Hill’ the area and Denbigh Close in particular played host to Michael Caine in ‘The Italian Job’ during the swinging sixties.
Take a stroll along Portobello road and you will eventually arrive upon the doorstep of Alices’ Antiques Shop, arguably the most famous along Portobello and not short of film history itself, with the superb Paddington Bear being filmed there and returning again for Paddington 2 out later this year.
If you head down the quaint and beautiful mews called Denbigh Close, you will see a pink coloured house on the left-hand side, this was the house of Charlie Croker, played by Michael Caine.
In the film, this is Michael Caine’s HQ in which he devises the cunning plan for the Italian Job and rather amusingly he uses this as his base to bed a bevy of beauties. Of course, the film is best remembered for one of the most famous movie one-liners of all time “You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”
With Notting Hill being used as a movie location for ‘Paddington’, ‘The Italian Job’, ‘Notting Hill’, the Beatles ‘Hard Days Night’ it must be said Notting Hill as an area, is indisputably box office.
Take a stroll down Arundel Gardens, which was horribly bombed during both World Wars, and you may notice a small blue plaque. This represents the Notting Hill home where Sir William Ramsey lived for 15 years and made his most famous scientific discovery that earned him a Nobel Prize for Physics. He was a scientfic pioneer and was the first scientist to isolate noble gases which meant an entirely new section for the periodic table. Many labelled him ‘The Greatest Chemical Discoverer of his time’.
He was knighted in 1902 and if you have ever been to a birthday party, wedding or celebration with a helium balloon, then you have William Ramsey to thank, as he was the first person to isolate helium.
However despite his greatness, he lost a lot of prestige and friends with his unfortunate endorsement of the Engineering Trust Ltd in 1905, this company believed they had the technology to extract gold from seawater, large investments were made on the basis of his endorsement, however when this proved to be impossible, this left William Ramsey with a rather deflated reputation