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Portland Road

Series on how London has changed since Charles Booth's 1886 survey. Portland Road, Notting Hill, was once London's worst slum but has since been transformed by wealth.

In 1886 Charles Booth embarked on an ambitious plan to visit every one of London's streets to record the social conditions of residents. His project took him 17 years.

Once he had finished he had constructed a groundbreaking series of maps which recorded the social class and standing of inhabitants. These maps transformed the way Victorians felt about their capital city.

This series takes six archetypal London streets as they are now, discovering how they have fared since Booth's day.

Booth colour-coded each street, from yellow for the 'servant keeping classes', down to black for the 'vicious and semi-criminal'. With the aid of maps the series explores why certain streets have been transformed from desperate slums to become some of the most desirable and valuable property in the UK, whilst others have barely changed.

This landmark series features residents past and present, exploring how what happened on the street in the last 125 years continues to shape the lives of those who live there now.

This episode features Portland Road in Notting Hill, the archetypal London banker street, dominated by homes worth as much as £6,000,000. Yet when Booth visited in 1899, it was the worst slum in London and, even today, the bottom five per cent by income in Britain are living on the same street as the top one per cent.

Told through the personal stories of Portland Road's diverse range of residents both past and present, including lords, bankers and slum dwellers, this film tells the story of one of the most divided streets in Britain.

1 hour



Role Contributor
Narrator Steven Mackintosh
Director Paul Berczeller
Producer Paul Berczeller
Series Producer Katie Bailiff


Go to the OU website for more about the Secret History of Our Streets: Scotland

Go to the OU website for more about the Secret History of Our Streets: Scotland

Extra! Extra! What secrets lie beneath the streets of Scotland?