Here you can find information on the Fulham and Hammersmith Historical Society, contact info, how to join, and a list of the books that we have published and you can buy. We will also be publishing reports on past events (for forthcoming events, you are encouraged to join and receive the Society’s regular newsletter). Whether you join or not please click the box at the top right to follow our posts.
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On an evening in July about twenty FHHS members had a tour of Margravine cemetery, adjacent to Barons Court Tube station. This 16½ acre cemetery is not on a main road and is almost completely surrounded by tall brick walls with the gardens of Victorian housing beyond. Its potential to become a forgotten backwater is countered by the nearby Tube station from which issues a stream of patients bound for Charing Cross Hospital at the opposite end of the cemetery.
Despite being the final resting place of over 83,000 Hammersmith residents it is sparsely populated with headstones except along the central avenue where the larger monuments congregate. The explanation is that in 1951 it was designated a Garden of Rest and huge numbers of the older and more derelict monuments were removed. Since then it has been managed as a park, although in the last few years a small number of burials have been allowed in the space where two impressive lines of elm trees once stood either side of the central avenue. A favoured activity of the Friends group, since its formation a dozen years ago, has been to plant trees, each one with official permission, and some areas have more trees than headstones. In 1985 the cemetery became part of the local conservation area and being a well-kept open space it has been awarded the Green Flag for several years.
It was originally opened in 1869 as Hammersmith Cemetery but about seventy years ago it was renamed Margravine Cemetery to honour a remarkable local resident, the would-be actress, travel writer and firebrand, Lady Craven (1750-1828). After the death of Lord Craven, by whom she had had six children by the age of thirty, she married a former beau His Serene Highness the Margrave of Brandenburg, Anspach and Bayreuth. She thereby acquired the title of Margravine and the couple took up residence in Brandenburg House near the cemetery. Here they hosted magnificent soirees in their grounds beside the Thames where a theatre was built for her spirited dramatic performances.
All the disagreeably overcrowded churchyards in Hammersmith were rightly closed in 1854 in accordance with the Metropolitan Burials Act of 1852. However, the protracted gestation period that followed to open a compensatory cemetery is a story of farcical incompetence. The burial board took another fifteen years to open a cemetery, an abysmal effort considering contemporary maps show the surrounding area was mostly open countryside. In the intervening years residents were forced to pay elevated fees for burial outside the borough.
All the cemetery’s buildings, which included two chapels, three lodges and a Reception House, were the work of local architect George Saunders. His Anglican Chapel was demolished in 1953 but the smaller Non-conformist Chapel survives and its Gothic exterior was inspected by members.
The cemetery possesses a modest number of interesting graves. Top of the list would once have been Sir Emery Walker (1851-1933) who joined forces with William Morris on a number of printing enterprises and whose house by the river is still open to the public. His cremated remains were interred in his parents’ grave as still stated on their headstone. However, some years ago they were removed to Sapperton in the Cotswolds, a sad loss for a cemetery guide. Nevertheless, we still have Roy Byford (1873-1939), who was a large and very popular actor, who played the rumbustious roles in Shakespeare. His performances can be judged from a dozen films he made towards the end of his career. A humble family headstone tells the sad tale of a mother and her nine-year-old son who perished in the Princess Alice disaster on the Thames in 1878 when over 600 day trippers were drowned. Nearby is a much grander monument in bronze commemorating George Broad (1840-1895), a Hammersmith foundry owner who cast the statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus, a very early use of aluminium for sculpture. His own self-cast monument is a splendid example of the artistry of the notable Italian sculptor Aristide Fabbrucci. Also on the central avenue is the grave of George Wimpey (1855-1913) who founded the building contractors responsible for the 1908 Olympic Games stadium and the famed White City. His monument is a broken column of finely polished granite, a debateable choice for a builder. A few yards further on is a large white marble cross to Abe Smith (1845-1923), who spent time in New South Wales prospecting for gold. On its base is a dear little carving of him sitting in his prospector’s hut dreaming of Hammersmith. Opposite is the cemetery’s only mausoleum, created by the Young family in 1883 following the devastating death of their son, Frederick, aged just eighteen. Next to this stands the War Memorial of J. Lyon’s & Co, which had its headquarters in Hammersmith. The monument was removed from the company’s former playing field at Greenford and re-erected here in 2002.
The most recent monumental restoration was funded by Historic England from a budget set aside for centenary commemorations of the First World War. A new sign tells how a few days before the Armistice in 1918 an explosion at W. E. Blake’s munitions factory in Wood Lane killed 13 people. This was unwanted news at a time of universal euphoria and received little press coverage. Local MP, mayor and later cemetery resident, Henry Foreman (1853-1924), felt that this was unfair on the victims and paid for a communal grave marked by a rugged granite cross. Because of its local historical significance it was listed Grade II in 2017, one of six listed monuments in the cemetery.
Margravine cemetery’s Reception House is an attractive octagonal building with a steeply pitched roof and its purpose was to store coffins prior to burial. It owes its existence to a survey of urban burial practices published in 1843 by Edwin Chadwick (1800-1890). This discovered that 20,000 families in London were living in single rooms and when a death occurred they had nowhere else to store a coffin. Chadwick was appalled and his proposals to alleviate such problems were incorporated into the Metropolitan Interments Act of 1850. The Reception House was listed Grade II in 2016 and is the only free-standing example of its type in a London cemetery and the reason for this is that shortly after its construction undertakers began providing chapels of rest. As the evening shadows lengthened FHHS members entered the dimly lit interior to see the stone slabs around the walls capable of accommodating five coffins. Finally attendees were invited to partake of drinks under a yew tree kindly provided by the Friends of the cemetery.
Another article from the prolific pen of Peter Trott
If you get a Peter Rabbit 50 pence commemorative coin in your change you will be holding a piece of Shepherd’s Bush history.
The story began on 28 July 1866 when Helen Potter was born at 2 Bolton Gardens, South Kensington. She was still living there with her elderly parents in 1911 and the census listed her as an authoress. Of course by then she was much better known as Beatrix Potter.
She loved pets and apparently had kept ferrets, frogs, hedgehogs, mice, newts and even her brother’s pair of long-eared bats. However rabbits were her favourite and at the age of ten she had one named Tommy. In her twenties she had another one named Benjamin H. Bouncer. But it was in 1892 that she bought Peter Piper, a Belgian Buck rabbit, for 4s 6d from a shop on the Uxbridge Road in Shepherd’s Bush. She actually recorded that it cost ‘an exorbitant amount’.
In 1893 she wrote to five year old Noel Moore, the son of her former governess, and in the eight page letter she drew pictures of rabbits named Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail. But more importantly the letter also contained her first drawing of Peter Piper, who she later renamed Peter Rabbit. Her first book ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ was published privately in 1900 and commercially in 1902. In the following year Beatrix made a Peter Rabbit doll and wisely registered the design at the Patent Office. In 1904 she wrote ‘The Tale of Benjamin Bunny’ which included the character of Peter Rabbit as Benjamin’s cousin.
Beatrix spent many holidays at Lingholm and credited The Lingholm Kitchen Garden as the inspiration for Mr McGregor’s Garden. It has been speculated that the colonnades at Brompton Cemetery inspired the wall of his garden. The Potter’s family home was very close to Brompton Cemetery and Beatrix would probably have been very familiar with the cemetery.
In 2001 the Friends of Brompton Cemetery were going through recently computerised burial records of the cemetery, which contained 250,000 names. It was then that they discovered that Beatrix may have got some of her character’s names from the memorials. The Friends discovered names including Mr. Nutkins, Mr. McGregor, Tommy Brock and Tod (with that unusual single‘d’ spelling).
James Mackay, a member of the Friends commented at the time:
‘But I became convinced that the story is genuine when I found an old edition of the Jeremy Fisher story which had the character down as Jeremiah Fisher. Then I found a gravestone in the cemetery for a Jeremiah Fisher and that’s when I thought the rumour was true’
Returning to the Shepherd’s Bush connection it is possible to speculate on the route that Beatrix took on that day in 1892. After leaving home she would have headed west and after a short distance passed the main gates of Brompton Cemetery. Immediately after the cemetery she would have turned left into West Brompton Station which was served by the West London Railway. After buying her ticket and boarding the train she would have passed the newly built Earls Court Exhibition Grounds. When the train stopped at Addison Road Station she would have been able to see the imposing new Grand Hall at Olympia.
She would have alighted at the next stop which was the Uxbridge Road Station (the original station stood very close to the current Shepherd’s Bush Overground Station). Turning right out of the station was the start of the Uxbridge Road which headed west towards Shepherd’s Bush Green. The road was lined with over fifty small shops and it was in one of those shops that she bought Peter Piper who became world famous as Peter Rabbit.
As luck would have it, a photo was taken in 1893 may have captured the very shop that Beatrix visited. On the right of the photo, taken from the Green, you can see 90 Uxbridge Road, which was an animal dealers bearing the name Mills and Lane. A Post Office Directory of 1900 lists Edward Albert Mills as a bird and live animal dealer at the address.
The row of shops in the photo are now from left to right KFC, Cashino, Superdrug and McDonalds.
This is another Shepherd’s Bush article by Peter Trott – the pub theme is getting quite strong – enjoy, there are more.
Charles Coningham Tubbs was born in Sussex in 1838, to wealthy parents Charles Tubbs Esquire and Lucy Coningham, the daughter of Daniel Coningham, Major General of the Bengal Army. Charles was only eight when his mother Lucy died in 1846 and twenty three when his father Charles died in 1861.
Between 1856 and 1860 Charles Coningham Tubbs was listed as living in Worthing but was shown as the owner of land occupied by a tenant named John Gorton on the Uxbridge Road, Shepherd’s Bush. The 1861 census lists John as a ‘cow keeper’ living at Oaklands Dairy. After his father died Charles was listed as living in the family home at 16 Pall Mall London and still shown as owning freehold land on the Uxbridge Road in Shepherd’s Bush.
Sometime between 1865 and 1870 Charles changed his surname to Coningham and was recorded on a polling list as Charles Coningham Coningham of Pall Mall. He was shown as the owner of freehold land and houses listed as 1 to 16 Coningham Road, Shepherd’s Bush. The road was officially named in 1865. In 1871 his tenant John Gorton was living on the Uxbridge Road at 1 Coningham Villa. The Coningham Arms was also listed on the 1871 census indicating it was probably built sometime between the 1861 and 1871 censuses, on land owned by Charles.
His mother’s Coningham ancestors can be traced back to 1750 when earlier records become less clear. However, the name Coningham dates back to at least the twelfth century and is derived from the Scottish Clan Cunningham.
The pub has been called The Coningham Arms since it was built but confusingly mid twentieth century photos of the pub show a hanging sign with three crouching rabbits. That was in fact the Coat of Arms of the Coningsby family which had no connection to the Coningham family. I can only assume that someone made a schoolboy error and used the wrong Coat of Arms.
The sign was later replaced with the Coningham Coat of Arms which pictured a shakefork in the shape of a stylised ‘Y’. The accompanying motto ‘over fork over’ refers to the time when Macbeth killed Duncan and sent his men to kill Duncan’s son Malcolm Canmore. Malcolm took refuge in the barn of farmer Malcolm the son of Friskin. The farmer called out to his companion “over, fork over,” as they used shakeforks to cover the Prince with hay. By doing so the farmer saved the Prince’s life and he was later rewarded with the Thanedom of Cunninghame.
On 1 June 1871 Charles married Margaret Tremenheere, the daughter of Major General George Borlase Tremenheere of the Bengal Engineers. The marriage certificate showed his name as Charles Coningham Coningham a Gentleman living in Isleworth. In the autumn of 1873 they had a son named Charles Stuart Coningham. Tragically on 19 April 1874, within three years of his marriage, Charles Coningham Coningham died whilst staying at the Belle Vue Hotel in San Remo Italy. His body was brought home for burial at Heston. His Will gave his address as Ellingham Hall, Norfolk. By a cruel twist of fate their son Charles Stuart also died in Italy in March 1896 aged only 22.
In the same year that Charles married, the census listed Alfred Palmer as the Licensed Victualler of The Coningham Arms. James Watt was listed in 1874 followed by Samuel Riches the same year. Samuel actually died on the premises in 1881 and his widow Charlotte became the Publican. In 1891 George Towerzey and his wife Clara were in charge and by the end of WW2 the pub had changed hands at least another five times.
Originally the pub had one entrance door facing the Uxbridge Road, adjacent to an existing door that leads to the premises above. There was another entrance door facing Percy Road. These doors may have once been entrances to a Public Bar and a Saloon Bar. A smaller door further along Percy Road may have been an Off Licence. The current entrance on the corner of Uxbridge Road and Percy Road was once a display window.
The red brick extension on Percy Road appears to have been built sometime between 1896 and 1915. It was probably then that the outside men’s toilet in Coningham Mews was added. Post war there was also a wooden stall on the corner of the Mews that served hot meat pies and mugs of tea.
For many decades it has been known locally as an Irish pub and the pub is still a firm favourite with supporters of Celtic FC. The pub also has a strong following of Queen’s Park Ranger supporters. Occasionally Celtic travel to Shepherd’s Bush to play friendlies with Rangers and all the fans happily mingled together at the pub.
The pub survived the war unscathed and over the years the interior has changed very little. However, the exterior colour scheme has changed from brown and cream, to light green and cream and then dark green and cream. During the first lockdown in 2020, it was repainted ‘Rangers’ blue.
As with several of the local pubs the management has changed many times in recent years. The lease was put up for sale in 2008 and again in 2011 when Enterprise Inns put it up for auction with a rent of £85,000. Around 5 years ago a more generic Coat of Arms appeared and the ‘shakefork’ link to the Coningham family disappeared. In spite of all the changes The Coningham Arms has avoided gentrification and that is borne out by on line reviews such as ‘a proper pub’ and ‘this is one of the last old pubs in the area’.
There’s an interesting postscript to this story which relates to the naming of two further roads in Shepherd’s Bush. Ellingham Road joins Findon Road which in turn joins Coningham Road. Coningham Road was named in 1865 but Ellingham Road and Findon Road were both named in 1879 which was five years after Charles Coningham Coningham died. Records show that Charles was born and baptised in Findon, Sussex. And when he died his home address was Ellingham Hall, Norfolk. So very probably the two roads were named to commemorate Charles.
Another interesting, though grisly, article from Peter Trott – a wealth of inforamtion about Shepherd’s Bush. Enjoy.
For as long as I can remember an urban myth has linked public executions to Galloway Road and Gravesend Road in Shepherd’s Bush. However, in the booklet ‘Street Names of Fulham and Hammersmith’ it states that Galloway Road was possibly named after Mr Galloway, an engineer, mentioned by Faulkner in 1839, as having lived in the Goldhawk Road. And Gravesend Road was named after Richard de Gravesend and Stephen de Gravesend who were Bishops of London in the 13th and 14th centuries respectively. But having said that Shepherd’s Bush at one time was a location for public executions.
Up until the late 18th century a huge number of public executions took place at Tyburn which stood on the present junction of the Edgware Road and Bayswater Road. It was common practice for the dead bodies to be hung in metal cages or in chains from gibbets on roads leading to London as a warning to potential criminals.
An unnamed inn once stood in the vicinity of what is now Shepherd’s Bush Green and it was recorded as the only house standing between Acton and The Kensington Gravel Pits. Rocque’s map c1745 does show a building on the north of the Green. The map also clearly shows one single and one double gallows or gibbet at the eastern end of the Green. Records state that they stood on a piece of waste ground known as Gallows Close. The Athenaeum magazine once reported:
‘at the east corner of Shepherd’s Bush Common two ghastly gibbets reared their disgusting height, and held, rocking in the wind, the rattling bones of murderers hung in chains’
In 1737 a black man named Jeffery Morat was arrested for burglary with violence at the house of the Marquis of Lindsay. He died in prison. A private soldier by the name of Maw was hanged at Tyburn for the murder of a watchman at Shepherds Bush. The bodies of both men were hung in chains at Shepherds Bush. A public journal dated March 12th, 1737 stated:
‘On Sunday last thousands of people went to Shepherd’s Bush to see Maw, the Soldier, and Morat, the Black, hung in chains. The roads were perfectly lined with People and several had their pockets picked under the gibbet. The Black hangs in a very indecent manner: he has nothing over his face, but quite exposed, with his mouth wide open, and his swelled tongue hanging out, and looks very frightful. He is hung in his green livery, but without shoes or stockings. The Soldier has a white cloth over his face, and hangs more decent. There were several gallons of gin sold on that road all Sunday, not only by Running Distillers with bottles, but almost every hundred yards was a stall with gingerbread and gin’
Ten years later Richard Ashcroft and John Cook were caught smuggling brandy and tea in Eastbourne. They were held at Newgate Prison and executed on 29 July 1747 at Tyburn. Their dead bodies were also hung in chains at Shepherd’s Bush.
The General Evening Post dated 29 July 1747 announced:
‘Yesterday morning about eight o’clock Richard Ashcraft and John Cook, the two smugglers, were carried under a strong detachment of the guards, from Newgate to Tyburn, and executed pursuant to their sentence; after which their bodies were hung on a gibbet at Shepherd’s Bush, in the Acton Road, near James Hall, who was executed some time since for the murder of his master, Counsellor Penny’
James Hall had been executed for the murder in 1741 and this account indicates that his body had been hanging on the gibbet for six years.
Two un-named highwaymen were executed at Shepherds Bush in 1748. Reports suggest four further bodies were hung in chains between 1747 and 1751. One of these was a smuggler named Samuel Austin – his body was gibbeted in December 1747 and the Morning Advertiser reported:
‘the body of Samuel Austin the smuggler, who was executed on Monday last at Tyburn, was afterwards hung in chains at Shepherd’s Bush, on the same gibbet with the two lately executed’
On 29 August 1751 Robert Steel murdered his wife at Brick Street Hanover Square and was subsequently sentenced to death at the Old Bailey. He appears to have been the last reported person to be hung on a gibbet at Shepherds Bush.
Rocque’s map also shows two further double gallows or gibbets standing at the junction of Starch Green (Becklow Road) and the North High Way (Uxbridge Road). The approximate position would be close to where the Princess Victoria pub now stands. I found no reference to these, but it could be the site where Ashcroft, Cook and Hall were gibbeted as the report states the site was in the Acton Road.
There are no records of the number of criminals executed in Shepherd’s Bush but the Gentleman’s Magazine of 1856 reported:
‘there were gallows and occasional executions at Shepherd’s Bush, when Tybourn succeeded St Giles’
Finally the Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser of Tuesday, March 26, 1765 reported from the previous year:
“Saturday night last the only remaining gibbet at Shepherds Bush was blown down, so that place remains now without any marks of ignominy upon it; which has not before happened for a century past”
Did you hear Melvyn Bragg’s In our Time on Thursday? If not do catch it on the Podcast it was about Booth and his maps and more; well worth the time. Also Andrew Marr’s Start the Week on Monday a rather more haphazard programme around three books but it does shine a light on London and its cosmopolitan populace again available as a podcast. A health warning on both as they are short and necessarily cursorary but they all add to the rich picture that is the product of London’s history.
We received this email from Patricia Acock earlier this month asking for help recognising a Hotel from a photo of Charles See a porter there. This links to Contact Us posts in April from Barbara, Geoffrey See and Heather Christine Potts all with See forebears but there may be several lines often with similar names.
Thu, 6 May, 19:40 Hello I am sorry to bother you but yours is the only e mail address I could find for fhhs. Perhaps you would be able to advise me or forward this to someone who can.During lockdown I have been researching my family historyThe ‘See’ family of Hammersmith.I have tried to attach a photo of my great uncle Charles See. In the 1911 census he was living in Standish Road and working as a porter. In the photo is a number 1 on the pillar and I wondered if anyone would know which hotel he worked for. Later he joined the Finsbury rifles and was sadly killed in 1917 aged just 24,In another branch of the family is a John See who won the Doggett Coat and Badge race in 1899, I wondered if your society holds newspapers where this event may be recorded?I live in Northampton so don’t know Hammersmith at all.Thank you for taking time to read this.Pat Acock
As you can see there is no badge or capband to identify the hotel but maybe the singular address may help. A long trawl through online directories may be rewarding. Can you solve this challenge? Whilst we are not a family history site or society we are happy if our Contact Us pages are of assistance.
This Post was contributed by Caroline MacMillan who many of you will know from her guided walks and her well researched commentaries for the photographic books in the “Mad About…….” series see more at herwebsite
In 1745 a single track weaved its way through farmland from the road which led from Shepherds Bush to Uxbridge and further south the Goldhawk Road.
In 1830 the area was covered with fields, orchards and market gardens which supplied fresh food to the ever-expanding city of London, the produce being transported by horse and cart or boat on the nearby river Thames whilst soft fruits such as strawberries would be taken on foot with women carrying baskets made from the willows which grew by the river. For an 1866 OS Map of the area go to the National library of Scotlandwebsite
Wealthy families often lived within easy reach of London and in the 18th century Adam Askew, a Cumbrian doctor, moved south and purchased land in what was then known as North Fulham. The Marryat family owned land in the area and Captain Marryat served for many years with the Royal Navy, leading a successful expedition up the River Bassein in Burma, so giving the name to Bassein Park Road. He is remembered today as the author of many books including Mr. Midshipman Easy and the children’s’ book, “Children of the New Forest”. Two other notable residents were Fleet Paymaster William Lovely RN who lived at Dehli Lodge whilst Dr. Harry Pope held his surgery at Bromsgrove Villa, his name is still inscribed on a stone outside his home overlooking Starch Green.
The continued growth of London created a demand for building materials and this encouraged the farmers to supplement their income by making bricks using the clay lying under the top soil. Commercial enterprises flourished, often digging 12 feet down and thereby creating many ponds and large lakes. Between 1870 and 1890 over 17 million bricks were produced and the Stamford Brook Brickfield, one of the largest in the area, covered over 50 acres and employed 250 men and boys.
By 1893 housing was rapidly covering the orchards and brickfields whilst shops and tradesmen’s premises were established along the Askew Road. Dairies provided fresh milk daily and many households supplemented their income by taking in laundry from the more affluent Kensington residents, in 1900 there were 62 laundries alone listed in the area around Becklow Road.
Factories had opened at the turn of the 20th century including Peal and Co. with a warrant to supply boots and shoes to King Edward VII and one of the largest engineering works was Lucas in Emlyn Road. Churches and schools were built, the former fields were now covered with houses and the Church Commissioners donated land for Wendell Park. The First World War saw the municipal kitchen in Becklow Road’s Victoria Hall providing up to 2,000 meals a day and in the Second World War the area suffered during air raids with the Sun pub in Askew Road receiving a direct hit, as did the Victorian ‘three decker’ school in Westville Road. The school was rebuilt to a design by architect Erno Goldfinger (whose name has been immortalized in the James Bond books written by Ian Fleming) and is now a listed building.
The trolley buses have long gone, the pond at Starch Green is now a neatly mowed green lawn, shops in Askew Road which once provided fresh milk from cows tethered nearby and vegetables grown in local orchards have been replaced by restaurants, delicatessens and cafes whilst the former factories are now apartments, that single track is now the busy Askew Road and continues to be the focal shopping area for the residents who live in this popular corner of west London.
Caroline’s walks are continuing in compliance with current COVID regulations.
When I started researching Clifton House I had no idea of just how complex and interesting it would be. The following is quite accurate but still several questions remain unanswered:
If we go right back to 1745 John Roque’s map shows two or three buildings on the south side of the North Highway (Uxbridge Road) mid-way between Starch Green (Becklow Road) and Shepherd’s Bush Green. Two buildings are much clearer on Salter’s map of 1830. One is directly opposite a small road (now Bloemfontein Road) and the other is next to it on the right. Take special note the field and garden boundaries south of the houses as they are still evident today.
Around that time the author and printer Samuel Bagster the Younger moved out of London due to ill health. He set up home in Shepherds Bush which he described as a village principally surrounded by cow pastures. With his wife Elizabeth and two spaniels he lived in the cottage on the right, which he named Aldine Cottage after the 1494 Italian printers The Aldine Press. As well as keeping poultry he was passionate about bees and set up an apiary in the large garden. In 1834 he printed and published his own book ‘The Management of Bees’ and in the book he gave a description of his invention ‘The Ladies Safety Hive’.
He died, at the young age of 34, on 1st July 1835 in his bedroom overlooking the garden. In the years following Aldine Cottage was occupied by the Blewit family, Matthew Faulkner, George Bridge and Hobart Moore. In 1870 Hobart Moore, a print seller and picture dealer, was made bankrupt and after that I found no further mention of Aldine Cottage.
John Wyld’s map of 1848 shows both cottages but only names Old Oak Villa next door. In 1871 Old Oak Villa is occupied by the Hunt family but close by are two unoccupied premises named Stanley Villa and Clifton Villa. One possibility is that after Hobart’s bankruptcy Aldine Cottage was sold off and demolished and these two villas were in the process of being built. This is partly corroborated by the 1869 OS map that shows a very different shaped building to the one shown on the 1893 OS map.
Maps above by Wyld 1848 & OS 1969
I have not found a date for the construction of Clifton Villa nor any clue as to why the Prince of Wales feathers appear on the top of the building. I’m sure that if it was connected to the Prince of Wales it would be well documented. Without any royal connection that might explain why the words ‘Ich Dien’ are not present on the carving. Another possibility is that the owner was from Wales but I have found no Welsh links to the property. Rather oddly between 1873 and 1882 I only found two people attached to the premises and the actual name of the building changed too. In 1873 an A. Phillips is listed in an art catalogue alongside the address Clifton Villa, and from 1880 to 1882 Mr Stevens Tripp (solicitor) is shown living at Clifton Lodge.
On 9th May 1874 Major General Archdale Wilson of Delhi died and at the age of 55 his widow Ellen Frith became Dowager Lady Wilson. Nine years later on St Luke’s Day 1883 she opened the ‘Home of the Good Shepherd’ in Aldine House, Uxbridge Road, Shepherd’s Bush (possibly reverting to the earlier name in recognition of Samuel Bagster who was a very religious man). It is even possible that the three feathers were added at this time due to the religious connections to the Fleur-di-Lis.
Surprisingly, Lady Wilson lived in the house, which accommodated 30 girls who had gone astray but desired to return to an honest and industrious life. By 1884 the number of girls had risen to 38. On 1st February 1886 the Bishop of London opened a chapel, laundry and infirmary adjacent to the Aldine House. The contemporary report added that the inmates were given thorough industrial training and employed in needlework, dressmaking and the laundry. A new altar for the chapel was dedicated in 1889.
The 1891 census shows that 23 ‘penitent’ women, seven staff and Lady Wilson were living there. The last positive record of her at Aldine House is in 1892, by which time she would have been 73 years old. Possibly she retired and moved to Surrey where she died on 1st January 1916, just short of her 97th birthday. The last positive records I could find for Aldine House was on the 1894 and 1895 electoral rolls which listed Lady Lucy Cavendish. Also known as Lady Frederick Cavendish she had helped Lady Wilson set up the home. She was a pioneer of women’s education and Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge was named in her honour in 1965. It seems that the home closed down and remained empty for at least a year (a later report dated 1908 stated the home was abandoned due to increasing problems with the residents).
OS Maps above 1893 & 1912
The first Church Army Home for the homeless was opened in London in 1890. In 1897 The Church Army opened a Magdalen Home which could accommodate 38 ‘fallen women’ in Aldine House (now renamed Clifton Home) and for the first time the building was listed as 127/129 Uxbridge Road. Number 127 is the current address and probably 129 was the extension opened in 1886. In 1901 there were 9 staff in charge of 37 inmates.
In 1911 numbers 127 and 129 are listed as The Church Army Home with 42 staff and residents and number 131 next door is shown as a hostel with 14 staff and residents. Probably number 131 was the original Old Oak Villa or a later building on the same site. For the 15 years leading up to WW2 Church Army Captain Arthur Stroud was in charge of the home. In 1938 Clifton House was listed as a home for youths and young men in need of protection and guidance, some of which were noted as being orphans. The 1939 register shows that all the residents were men.
It appears that the Church Army vacated the premises sometime towards the end of the war as the 1945 electoral roll show the building occupied by families, all with the same address as 127 Uxbridge Road. It was not until around 1960 that the building was given the individual flat numbers of 1 to 12. For many years Tom Morris the former Mayor of Hammersmith (1970/71) lived at number 2 until mobility problems caused him to move out. He died in 2002 aged 100.
Postscript: In the 1920s the telephone exchange was built on this site of 131 Uxbridge Road. Interestingly in 1911 number 131A is shown as Brilliant Sign Co. Ltd., which was built on the old gardens of Old Oak Villa. Clifton House is still numbered 127 Uxbridge Road but the Telephone Exchange and later extension are now numbered 143 (which would have been the last house on the Uxbridge Road before Coningham Road).
It just shows what you can find out with a little research in LBHF archives – opening soon. Perhaps you have a little article from your research don’t be shy get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
The General Smuts and the Springbok by Peter Trott
The General Smuts
The area where the White City Estate now stands was once fields. Farm buildings occupied the land which is now the junction of Bloemfontein Road and South Africa Road. The area to the north east was cleared to build the Franco British Exhibition which opened in 1908. Further exhibitions followed but the 1914 Anglo American Exposition closed abruptly when WW1 broke out. During the war the site was used for military purposes but then lay neglected until the mid 1930s when it was cleared to build the Estate.
Construction began in 1938 and in that year there were also proposals to build a public house on Bloemfontein Road. The road had been named in 1881, after Bloemfontein the judicial capital of South Africa. The literal translation of the name from Afrikaans is ‘Fountain of Flowers’ although it is now known as the ‘City of Roses’. The new pub would be leased to Watney Combe Reid and apparently would replace an earlier Watney’s House. This is somewhat of a mystery bearing in mind it would have been within the boundary of the exhibition site. In fact the location was close to where the exhibition’s Canadian Scenic Railway stood. I have been unable to find any records of an earlier pub on Bloemfontein Road, however a 1939 aerial photograph of the partly completed Estate appears to show a building close to that spot. It was probably just a site hut but if it was a pub it must have been very temporary. All construction work stopped when war broke out and that area became a dump for bomb rubble.
When it was finally built the pub was named The General Smuts after Jan Smuts who had served in the Second Boer War. He later went on to be Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa (1919 – 1924 and 1939 – 1948). An interesting fact is that he was the only person to sign both peace treaties that ended the First and Second World Wars. At the time there were some concerns about using his name and alternative names of The Greyhound or The Hare were considered. Bloemfontein Road had been named in 1881which was the year that the First Boer War ended. Jan Smuts died in 1950 and the pub opened in 1952. That year was the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second Boer War, so possibly for continuity and in his honour they decided to keep his name.
Built at a cost of £67,000 it was a very large detached building made up of the pub, a function room, a restaurant and living accommodation. There was a suggestion that the comedian Charlie Drake opened the pub. It is possible as he had not long turned professional and was starting on a long and successful career with the BBC.
It was the first pub to be built on the White City Estate and became the local for the residents. On match days it became popular with Queens Park Rangers supporters as it was the closest to the ground. Unfortunately, as hooliganism crept into football the pub was occasionally targeted by visiting fans. Even on non-match days it experienced quite a bit of trouble both in the bars and the function room. Problems spiralled in the 2000s due to the poor management who were continually flouting licensing laws.
There was a 99 year lease dated from 25 March 1951 which stated the premises could only be used as a public house. This created a problem for the council as the police were pressing for it to be closed down. The pub appears to have closed around 2008 but about the same time a bar called Marines opened on the Commonwealth Avenue side of the building. It later became the Smuts Bar which closed around 2015. It was replaced by the White City Musalla in 2016.
Around 2008 the front part of the building was operating as an East African restaurant named Zizinia Gardens. On 1 May 2010 it opened as a community centre and restaurant named The Egyptian House. Because of all the problems associated with the lease it was not until 2011 that the licence to sell alcohol on the premises was finally revoked. From that date the premises could only operate as a restaurant and function room. Since 2017 The Egyptian House premises has included The Little Egypt Lounge in Commonwealth Avenue and Bro’s Burgers on the corner of Bloemfontein Road.
Prior to the proposal to build the General Smuts the White City Stadium had hosted the British Empire Games in 1934 (the forerunner of the Commonwealth Games). South Africa Road was planned as one of the perimeter roads of the White City Estate and it was officially named in 1939 (the same year than Jan Smuts became Prime Minister for the second time).
After the war work recommenced on the building of the Estate which was extended beyond South Africa Road to include Batman Close. The tennis courts of Hammersmith Park opened in 1954 and the rest of the park the following year. The Springbok Pub was to be built in a vacant plot south of the park between Batman Close and South Africa Road. That location was on the site of the 1908 Exhibition’s Decorative Arts Palace.
As well as being the nickname for the South African rugby team the Springbok (springing buck) is the national animal of South Africa. Springbok is also the largest town in the Namaqualand area in the Northern Cape Province, which interestingly was originally called Springbokfontein.
Although it doesn’t appear to have been reported it is claimed that Paddington born boxer Terry Downes opened the pub on 6 November 1957. Terry had been discharged from the American Marines in 1956 and returned to the UK where he turned professional in January 1957. So it’s quite possible that he was being promoted by his manager at the opening of the pub.
When the pub first opened it was operated by Mann, Crossman & Paulin but the following year they merged with Watney Combe Reid and became Watney Mann Ltd. The pub kept the same name until sometime in the late 1980s when it became McQueens. It returned to the Springbok a few years later but was given the present name of The Queen’s Tavern in 2016. The pub’s crest is based on the Queens Park Rangers crest which the club had dropped ahead of the 2016 – 2017 season. Similar to The General Smuts the pub also had its fair share of trouble and possibly the changes of name and management were attempts to improve its image. Before the Covid pandemic the pub only opened for fans on match days and on other days the bar could be hired for private functions.
The majority of the building is now The Queen’s Hostel which advertises on many room booking websites. It has a large number of dormitories each decked out with bunk beds. So at the moment it looks very unlikely that it will ever reopen as a traditional pub.
An area that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves nevertheless there is plenty for us to consider in Shepherd’s Bush. The next few articles have been written by Peter Trott who you may have seen recently on BBC talking about a very narrow house.
This is about a new school at the turn of the last century.
Sawley Road LCC Temporary School
Sawley Road was officially named in 1904 and the road was laid out in the following years. In 1909 proposals were put forward to build a recreation ground on Sawley Road which would be named either Oaklands Park, Old Oak Park or Wormholt Park. Confusingly council minutes referred to it as Sawley Road Park but eventually it opened as Wormholt Park on 27 June 1911.
When the park opened there were actually no houses built on Sawley Road but work on the Old Oak Estate west of Wormholt Road was in progress. Ellerslie Road School had opened in 1894 but the amount of new homes being built to the west meant further schools were needed. So probably just before the park opened a temporary school was built on Sawley Road close to the junction of Bloemfontein Road and opposite the proposed park gates.
Although it was officially named the Sawley Road LCC Temporary School it was nicknamed the tin school. Temporary schools of that period were usually part constructed of corrugated iron and one or two rare examples still exist in
the UK. At the time of writing this I have found very little information about the school itself. It was certainly in use by 1912 and is shown on the 1915 OS map.
An aerial photograph taken in 1921 (Britain From Above) clearly shows the school which appears to consist of three large buildings. They may have been separate schools for seniors, juniors and infants. There appears to be some small buildings at the rear which were probably toilets and sheds. The photo also shows that there were still no houses on Sawley Road which suggests that all building worked stopped when WW1 broke out.
The war started in July 1914 and in September the school held a sports day in
Wormholt Park. On 11 September 1914 The West London Observer reported:
‘It is difficult in these days of international turmoil and excitement for one to turn
one’s thought, even for a brief period, exclusively to social events – such as are
in progress – let alone organise such a thing as a sports meeting and to carry it
through with phenomenal success’
And further wrote:
‘Undoubtedly the handsome prizes which were offered for competition
provided a stimulus to the children, and among the awards was a handsome doll
which had been dressed by the girls of the top class. Eileen Talbot, a little girl of
10 years of age, whose father is serving with the colours at the front, set her
heart upon winning the doll, and although smaller than many of her competitors,
she ran pluckily in the event that the doll was a prize in, and won a splendid
race. She was heartily cheered for her achievement’
At that time the Headmaster was listed as Mr A Saywell who was also the
president of the National Association of Head Teachers.
WW1 ended in 1918 and the following year work commenced on the
construction of Wormholt Park School. Eventually it would accommodate the
children from the proposed East Acton Estate. In 1921 there was a children’s
fancy dress party held at the hall at Lime Grove Baths and over 1,000 dancers &
spectators attended from eight schools, including Sawley Road School.
Wormholt School opened in 1922 and some of the first entrants were the pupils
from Sawley Road School which then closed down. A Wormholt School report
from December 1922 stated that Headmistress Miss Howlett, spoke very
encouragingly of the good work already done in the short time since the Schools
were opened and reorganised in June upon vacating the temporary buildings in
The old Sawley Road School was still standing in 1923 when William Gordon
Wilson of Galloway Road was charged with being on the enclosed premises in
the yard of the school.
Between 1926 and 1928 the LCC built 783 houses on the Wormholt Estate and
it is probably during that period that the Sawley Road site was cleared and the
houses were finally built. Interestingly when Sawley Road was planned it was
intended that houses would be built on both sides of the road. However in the
interim period Wormholt Park was built where the even numbered houses
would have stood.
The old school site is now occupied approximately by numbers 1 to 17 Sawley
Road, the small triangular green at the junction of Sawley Road and
Bloemfontein Road and numbers 52 and 54 Bloemfontein Road.
Dunraven Road and Collingbourne Road were built in the late 1890s and when
the houses on Sawley Road and the two semi-detached houses on Bloemfontein
Road were completed an alleyway was incorporated to connect the four roads.
Recently a volunteer urban garden group named The Green Project Shepherds
Bush have transformed the triangular green into a delightful garden.