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Portobello on Film no. 2

Following on from our Portobello on Film feature last issue on lesser-known film The Blue Lamp, it seemed too good an opportunity not to explore the setting for Paddington, both the film and the original books, as its author is the inspiration for the name of the first building we are building in Phase 2.

Michael Bond was inspired to create his well-loved duffel-coated bear following a Christmas shopping expedition to Selfridges in 1956 to buy his wife a Christmas gift. He went on to publish his first book featuring the lovable character in ‘A bear called Paddington’ on 13 October 1958.

It’s well known that Paddington went to live with the Browns’ family at 32 Windsor Gardens in Notting Hill, however, this address is, in fact, essentially fictitious and an amalgamation of Bond’s parents’ address at Winser Drive, Reading and his address in Arundel Gardens, just off Ladbroke Grove. The picture that Bond paints of the fictional Windsor Gardens of grand townhouses does not reflect the true appearance of the street, which is actually a cul-de-sac off the Harrow Road and is largely comprised of council houses. There isn’t even a number 32, a fact that has disappointed many visiting tourists.

In the film, Notting Hill was passed over as the location for Windsor Gardens and the setting that was actually chosen was Chalcot Crescent in Primrose Hill. However, the area wasn’t overlooked altogether. When Paddington pursues the pickpocket, the scene is filmed along Portobello Road, taking in the antiques market, and local institution, Alice’s Antiques was the setting for Gruber’s antique’s store in the film.

The film ‘Paddington’ was released in 2014 and is widely available on DVD.