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Portobello Green


Owner, Orange Coffee Van

"I love the people you meet. You meet wonderful people out here that you don’t meet anywhere else in London. People around here are amazing."

How have you ended up in Portobello Road?

I ended up here by accident. I came to London from Italy 12 years ago and I’ve been [in Portobello] now for 7 years since I had this idea for the van. I used to live in Clerkenwell and there was a market near there, but it took me a couple of months to get the van together and by the time I came back to the council they told me that I couldn’t bring it. So the same day, I went for a ride to see a friend of mine who had a stall in Portobello, I told him my story and he said to come down on Saturday and meet the manager… it started from there. I started here on 2 April 2007 – it’s been a good run!

How has Portobello changed in the last 7 years?

It changes every year - for bad and for good. I guess the area is becoming more and more expensive and you see the shift of people. I remember it as a sort of hippy area and now you can tell that those people are shifting out as the prices going up. Friday used to be the best market in London. Seriously, it was. Then the congestion charge killed it unfortunately. I feel that once it got introduced the more and more it went down. It’s still a good place, don’t get me wrong, but I remember it as a great, great market; the people, the vibe – it was a Friday! If you come here on a Saturday, there is the world. It is very touristy. Saturday never changed – it’s always been the tourist day. Sundays used to be a very small local market and now you get a lot of Londoners visiting. On Sunday I have the prime spot now but I have always been here..

What is the best thing about Portobello?

I love the people you meet. You meet wonderful people out here that you don’t meet anywhere else in London. I’ve lived in East London and North London and I go to South London, but West is best. People around here are amazing.

What is the worst thing about Portobello?

I hate the winters and the cold weather. I don’t mind rain on a summer’s day but I hate the winters. Another bad side is that some people are starting to become rude. But that can happen anywhere, I think it can be a sign of the money.

What do you think Portobello will be like in 10 years?

It is all about how it will be managed. It has great potential but managed wrongly it can lose its vitality. It will never lose its shops, they’ll always be here, but managed wrongly it can lose that vitality. I’m talking about the rents, the shops, and more and more chains moving in. That can become out of control and they can’t keep the uniqueness. The point is that people don’t want to move here because there are chain shops and all the other crap that you can find on Oxford Street. People move here because of its uniquity. It hasn’t lost it yet but you can tell that there is so much pressure. Personally I saw positive signs with the direction the council are taking it, but if that will be sustained we will have to see. Once you become a clone town, all we’ll get is a clone town people. We’ll lose our diversity.