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The macabre and sordid secret history of Notting Hill

While 10 Rillington Place was being filmed, the actual residents of Ruston Close were forced to move in preparation for further redevelopment of the surrounding area. The site of Christie’s former home is now an alcove in the houses of St Andrews Square, off Bartle Road.

In 1946, before anything was known of John Christie’s exploits, George Orwell wrote his essay Decline of the English Murder, lamenting that lurid crime reporting had passed its heyday. We don’t know what he would have thought of the Christie murders. Orwell died of complications from tuberculosis exactly one week after Timothy Evans was wrongly convicted of the murder of his wife and son in January 1950. Evans’s trial had received little publicity or controversy despite the gruesome nature of its the murders and it was certainly anything but frontal. page news.

Just before he died, Orwell was told that 1984 had been bought by the Book of the Month Club in the US in a deal that would bring him a profit of around £40,000. Orwell, however, died before receiving a penny. Two months later, Evans, who Judge Lewis said had “lied and lied and lied”, was hanged at Pentonville prison by Albert Pierrepoint on March 9, 1950. John ‘Reg’ Christie had been the main prosecution witness. at the Evans trial and had sat impassively in the back of the court as the guilty verdict was announced. The last words Evans allegedly said to his mother and his sister were: “Christie did it.”

In fact, Orwell had lived in Notting Hill for a short time. In 1927, after spending five years in Burma as a military policeman, the old Etonian moved into an adjoining room in a friend’s pottery shed at 22 Portobello Road (then 10). His room was so cold that he had to use candles to warm his hands enough to write. In a 1944 Tribune magazine article he described Portobello Road as “hardly the fashionable neighborhood.”

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