Introducing the FHHS

19 August, 2013

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.

The membership rate is £10 standard or £8 concessions or £15 for couples.


TWO PUBS NO BEER

12 April, 2021

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).

White City Pubs (from OS Map)

The Springbok

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.


SHEPHERD’S BUSH – SAWLEY ROAD SCHOOL

8 April, 2021

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.

Sawley Road Map 1915When 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.

Sawley Road School Photo 1921 (2)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
Sawley Road.

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.


EMERY WALKER’S HOUSE ONLINE TALKS

15 February, 2021

Many of you will have visited Emery Walker’s House but did you know that during lockdown they are running a series of virtual talks? There is also an online quiz. Do look on the website . The next talk is about May Morris.  She was a lecturer, writer, editor, accomplished designer and jeweller, champion of women’s rights, but it is her work as an embroiderer that is considered to be her greatest achievement.


THE FUTURE OF OUR LOCAL ARCHIVES – ACT NOW

26 January, 2021

We have received an email from Annabelle May that brings news of an imminent decision to vacate Lilla Husset and store the archives elsewhere, as yet unspecified.

Members will know that the FHHS is not at all poitical or even a campaigning society but you will all know that the font of knowledge about the borough is the LBHF Archive.  Although some records are now at the London Metropolitan Archives or The  National Archive the bulk of our history and much of its cultural depth is contained in the Archive.  There is of course the local history and ready access archives of books, photos and some maps in the recently created archives space above Hammersmith Library.  The real gems and source material are contained in the purpose built archive storage at Lilla Husset.  This was a planning gain when its parent building was authorised; the lease has now run out and rent is being charged.

The archive storage is a vital resource for historians and local residents but also provides an important function for many professionals.  Drainage plans and old maps are regularly accessed by architects and planning consultants, residents wishing to make alterations can research their building and the rich history of their immediate location, although not available instantly it can be accessed through the archivist.   Just imagine the rigmarole if this storage is held remotely and even worse if its contents were to be managed and controlled by another organisation.  Even LBHF councillors would find this difficult and may find charges for holding the archives and for accessing them could outweigh the current rent. See the Local Government Acts for their responsibilities. This was an issue under the Conservatives but now recurs under Labour so all politicians appear to be uncaring where their, and our, archives are concerned.

So  please act now.  Write to the leader of the Council, to your local Councillors  of all parties and to your MP and make sure they know that we care about our boroughs’ history and their archives.

Here is Annabelle’s email in full.

Dear All

By now, you will be aware of plans made to move the Archives out of the Borough.
These plans were never officially communicated to the Archives Group or any other part of the community, and have not been consulted on.
Nevertheless a notice has now appeared on the council website under Forthcoming Decisions with the heading Archives Relocation.  This states ‘first published 5/01/21’ and then says  ‘for determination 2/02/21’. They do not convey their intention to move outside the borough, but this is what is now on the table.
 
These proposals seem to have emerged from the finance and property departments, who have decided not to renew the lease of the purpose-built Lilla Huset building. Sadly, they demonstrate their total ignorance of the crucial role of archives and of the council’s legal obligations.  They are also clearly unaware of the huge upheaval across the borough six years ago, when the previous administration attempted to close the Archives altogether, resulting in the much diminished service we now experience. No background papers for these proposals have been published.
 
I intend to write to the Leader Steve Cowan to inform him about this situation and to express our opposition.  In the LBHF  Report for 2020-21 he pledges to find permanent gallery space for the Cecil French collection. But keeping the Archives in the Borough is far more important to the whole community.
 
Meanwhile please inform your local groups, and write to your local councillors to object and to insist that if this move is to go ahead new premises must be found in the borough.  Surely some of the many developers on the scene could contribute?  (The Cabinet Member listed on the website is Cllr Max Schmid – he is Finance – no mention of Education, Arts and Culture, Planning etc etc …)
Happy New Year – we hope.
Annabelle
 
 
Annabelle May
Chair, H&F Archives and Local Studies Group

HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE (NEW EDITION)

6 January, 2021

Our latest publication (with the Barnes and Mortlake History Society) is now available. As you can see from this  Flyer it is a handsome volume and the content has been updated and includes some new colour illustrations.  Excellent value at £12 including post and packaging. Please send cheque with your order to:

Mrs Sue Pierson
48 Peterborough Road
London SW6 3EB

sue@lancepierson.org

PS:  Those who pay their subscriptions by cheque should know these are now due and should be sent to:

Hon. Secretary Heather Watson  (acting Hon Treas)

  78 Harbord Street London SW6 6PJ

 


HISTORY AT BOTH ENDS OF THE DAY

26 November, 2020

Taking a leisurely shower this morning I was surprised to hear Melvyn Bragg discussing a ship called the ZONG which achieved notoriety for throwing many of its cargo of slaves overboard whilst still alive.  The connection to Fulham and Hammersmith is that Granville Sharp became heavily involved in trying to get the Master and Crew tried for murder rather than insurance fraud. An horrific story but well worth listening to, from BBC Radio 4.

At the opposite end of the day I am reading Peter Ackroyd’s Dominion his fifth volume of The History of England.  It covers the end of Regency until Victoria’s death. He races through this period but nevertheless it is a very dense read.  There are lots of quotes from the period and he exercises his wit on the main characters.  He also seems to have a desire to revive historic and archaic words that tease the mind. He exposes the dreadful state of government and politics and the grudging moves towards democracy whilst in the midst of famine, wars and engineering transformation.  I am finding this really helpful as this period was not covered at school (science ‘O’ levels) and of course this is just the period when our borough was itself in transition from the semi-rural and estates to the rapid development of railways and terraced housing.  It forms a very useful backdrop to our local history. (Dominion by Peter Ackroyd  ISBN 9781509881321)

As a footnote news is breaking of Foster & Partners proposal to put a double decker temporary roadway onto Hammersmith Bridge.  Bazelgette, one hopes, would have been delighted!  Do note that an exciting revamped reprint of our Hammersmith_Bridge_ publication will be available before Christmas.

 


MAYA’S WALKS & A NEW MAP

14 November, 2020

Like so many of our articles recently we are indebted to Maya Donelan for this charming essay.  I hope we all can find in this the cheerfulness and inspiration to keep active yet safe during this period of lockdown.  It is followed by a new map of quiet walking routes through London. (With a challenge for any techies!)

Three Cemeteries in West London

Earlier this year, when the world started to go mad, I suddenly realised how lucky I was to live in Fulham within walking distance of three cemeteries: Fulham Cemetery, Margravine Cemetery and the Brompton Cemetery. What wonderful choices for the daily walk.

Fulham Cemetery, established in 1865, with an entrance lodge (being converted into a private house) and its remaining chapel (now somewhat derelict) in situated between the Fulham Palace Road and Munster Road, Fulham. Designated as a Garden of Rest, it is a pleasant green space, with good trees. Sadly there are no spectacular monuments, but there is a touching area of very modest headstones from the 1940s. I think its chief interest is the very large number of WWI military graves, not arranged as usual in neat serried ranks within an enclosure, but scattered higgledy-piggledy throughout the cemetery. They are there as the former Fulham Hospital just up the road, now the site of the Charing Cross Hospital, was used as a military hospital during WWI. The soldiers were buried before the War Graves Commission was set up. It was obviously decided to mark their graves in situ, and not to dig them up and move them to a formal setting.

The Hammersmith or Margravine Cemetery at Barons Court, now also a Garden of Rest, was opened in 1869 by the Hammersmith Vestry. The cemetery contains a recently restored and listed ‘Receiving House’, unique in London. It has a few distinctive monuments – the most striking are the green bronze memorial to George Broad, who owned the foundry which made the Eros statue at Piccadilly Circus and that of ‘Abe Smith’ an Australian gold prospector, who died in 1923, depicted in his hut. This is just close to the J. Lyons & Co. WWI and II war memorials. The company was based at Cadby Hall in Hammersmith from 1894, until the 1980s when Cadby Hall was demolished and the great company began to disintegrate. Margravine is a very’ rural’ seeming cemetery – lots of open green grass areas, with few memorials, carpeted with bluebells and later cow parsley in the spring – a total joy!

And then of course, the Brompton Cemetery – one of London’s great marvels, loved and cherished by a wide range of people, with its imaginatively planned layout, splendid architecture and fascinating tombs. A real urban cemetery – but its wonderful trees and grassed walkways give a refreshingly open and relaxing atmosphere even in the heat of the summer. Now in autumn with the leaves falling from the trees and the undergrowth cut back – one can see all the memorials in full glory.

One week I went walking in the cemetery on three occasions, all ending in coffee with friends at the well-designed coffee shop, at the North Entrance- a great addition to the Cemetery and its delights.

On every visit I discover interesting memorials I had never noticed before. That is the joy of Brompton – every walk, in every weather brings forth new delights, or highlights new and never before noticed vistas. I am longing for the work on the silver numbered discs, designating famous or interesting people, to be completed, as at the moment it is somewhat complicated to attribute them to specific tombs. But it is a really good project and many congratulations to those who are working on it.

Brompton is a very west London cemetery – full of past local dignitaries, names that are well known to Kensington and Fulham local historians and also, for someone of my generation, friends of my Kensington dwelling parents. I have come across many memorials to those I remember from my childhood who are buried here with their distinctive Russian Orthodox monumental crosses.

Without the stimulus, both physical and intellectual of these cemetery walks, I would have found the last months very difficult to cope with – thanks to these sad, but wonderful places, so many of us have found pleasure and delight and learned to appreciate the treasure of cemeteries and their passed away occupants. 

We thank the staff and volunteers so much for all their efforts to keep the cemeteries open to the public throughout these difficult months

Maya Donelan November 2020

As a footnote I have included a new map which is the product of a collaboration to create a Network of walks in London that take quiet and interesting routes.  It comes in both physical and digital versions do see their website the aim is to encourage people to walk rather than tube or bus it.  The network starts at West Brompton Cemetery or Holland Park so on the edge of FHHS patch.

The challenge is for those adept with a smartphone or coding to perhaps plot some walks in our area noting points of Historical interest.  This would make a good school technology project.

Footways – Central London BETA – Map 


MORE BOOKS & EMERY WALKER TALK

29 October, 2020

We have had a number of mentions of Zoffany recently and Vernon Burgess tells me that the definitive book is ‘Johan Zoffany RA: Society Observed‘ | ISBN 9780300176049 it is ferociously expensive even online but may be available second hand or from libraries.

I have once before sung the praises of the London Topographical Society and you may recall that one of their books about London Bridge prompted the brilliant illustrated talk by Dorian Gerhold that many attended. As a member of the society you receive a copy of their newsletter and any book published in the year. A serious boon for anyone interested in the history of London presented through Maps and documents; do have a look at their website. I have just received ‘London Parish Maps to 1900‘ a massive tome which is an illustrated catalogue of maps ordered by parishes. Although it just contains the bare information about most maps for some it provides snippets of information and there is a brief detail about the main personalities involved with the maps. For Fulham and Hammersmith I learned that Frederick Crace (1779-1859) an interior decorator who worked on Woburn Abbey, Carlton House, Brighton Pavilion, Windsor and Buckingham Palace lived in Hammersmith. On his death his collection of topographical prints and commisioned paintings of historic buildings was bought by the British Museum: the maps are now in the British Library. At a less elevated level the Vestry Clerk at Fulham in 1898 was suspended from his duties and is believed to have absconded to America! There are a number of coloured illustrations of the maps commissioned by the two Vestries to help in their work and mention is made of the FHHS and its predecessors’ publications. Some of the maps are in the LMA and not held in our archives so perhaps an excuse for a trip to the LMA and lunch in the Gunmakers when the restrictions are lifted.

Westminster Archives are publicising a video talk about the Blitz which is linked to a book by retired professor Mark Clapton called ‘The Blitz Companion‘ check out the video and details of the book are in the link.

Emery Walker Trust has again been busy and in addition to its virtual tour and other resources it will present a talk about the Islamic objects in the collection. This will be on 7 November at 1500 (3:00PM).

As the restrictions are tightening again we will try to keep up a flow of items of interest so do link to our front page for notification of new posts. Meanwhile stay safe.


A FULHAM WALK – PARSONS GREEN TO PUTNEY BRIDGE

13 October, 2020

This self-guided walk around Fulham was written by Maya Donelan for Open House if you have any additions or suggestions or variations do contact Maya direct or enter a comment below.

If the restrictions increase we may all be looking for such walks!

Fulham Walk – Parsons Green Station to Putney Bridge Station.

A self-guided walk around Fulham

Turn right out of the station and walk down towards Parsons Green, a former hamlet inhabited in the early C18 ‘mostly by Gentry and Persons of Quality’.

Walk down the path in the centre of the Green and you will see to your left: late C19 White Horse pub, red terracotta with tall gable with horse under a canopy. Next door the former Fulham Maternity Hospital opened in 1937 by the Fulham Borough Council on a site previously occupied by a Home and School for Girls. During WW2 a section of the Hospital was used as a First Aid Post for civilian casualties. Now a surgery and medical centre. Then Lady Margaret School, which consists of Henniker House, plain Italianate of c 1841; Elm House c.1800, recorded as a school in 1803 and Belfield House, early C18 front.

Extract Feret’s Map

On the West side, to your right, St Dionis Church (1884-5, Ewan Christian), with a font from Wren’s St Dionis Backchurch in the City, the Vicarage of 1898-9 by William White – his last commission! And church hall, a former mission church of 1876 by Arthur Billing, given by Charlotte Sulivan.

At the end of the Green, walk to your right to look at a terrace of 3-bay houses dated 1795, unusual in having centrally placed doorways. and the adjacent, Aragon House (1805-6), the former home of the local British Legion Club now a pub/hotel.

Back to cross at the pedestrian crossing, past the Duke on the Green, down Peterborough Road, and on the right, past Bell’s Alley, is Sulivan School, 1951, concrete clad, contemporary with neighbouring Sulivan Court 1949-56, built on No 2 polo ground of the Hurlingham Club, followed further down the road by Hurlingham & Chelsea School, Sheppard Robson 1956.

Lion Finials

Glance across to the left down Studdridge Street, which leads to the Peterborough Estate with its well-known ‘lion’ houses. Further down Peterborough Road on the left is South Park which opened in 1904 when local benefactress Miss Charlotte Sulivan sold the land to the Fulham Borough Council for use as a public recreation ground. The land, formerly known as Broom House Farm and Southfields Farm, had been part of the Sulivan private lands though it had been leased to Messrs Veitch & Sons of Chelsea as a nursery for fruit trees. Note the very recent new community centre on the corner.

And as you approach the river, pass on the right, the 1990s gated development, Hurlingham Square,– followed by the former British Gas Offices and laboratories, now Piper Building flats, 1961-3 by E.R.Collister and Partners, with an abstract cheerful coloured relief in polyester resin and glass, designed by John Piper.

Turn right into Carnwath Road, along past the works for the new London sewers. At the end of Carnwarth Road turn left into Broomhouse Dock, from which a ferry (apparently used by King Charles I) used to run to Wandsworth. It was known as a very treacherous part of the river and many drownings were recorded there! Now you have a fine view of the recycling station! Continue right up Broomhouse Lane. On the left the wall of the Hurlingham Club, established in 1869 as a private pigeon shooting club. In 1873, the Club published the rules of polo, which are still followed by most of the world to this day. Polo was first played at the club on 6 June 1874. In the early 1900s ballooning was a popular sport at the Club and a pipe with the relevant gas was installed between the Club and the local gasworks at Sands End.

On the right

The Parsons Green Club– originally established in 1885 as the Parsons Green Working Men’s Social Club by Charlotte Sulivan, the club moved onto this site in 1912 and over the years expanded greatly. It was completely rebuilt in 2019, with flats above.

Castle Club, built as a school by Horace Francis, 1854-5. Symmetrical Tudor brick and stone composition. Donated by Lawrence Sulivan, father of Charlotte Sulivan, a generous local resident. Now scheduled to become a residential home for the elderly.

On the left: Hurlingham Park, a post-war development on land previously used as a polo ground by the Hurlingham Club. Now nostalgically the venue for Chestertons Polo in the Park, an annual event which brings together a combination of international polo and family entertainment.

Turn left into Hurlingham Road, passing on the corner Hurlingham Lodge of 1856, now much altered, further along on the left, the former Park Keeper’s cottage, now a grand house and on the right, The Vineyard, rendered 3-storey, 3-bay front, part early 17th century. For many years owned by the Beaverbrook family.

Left down Napier Avenue – at the bottom on the left the main entrance to the Hurlingham Club. Turn around and continue towards station, with on your left Rivermead Court, with its 1930 mansion blocks.

As you approach the bridge, keep to the right and look up to the left to see the pill-box on the station above you, a relic of WWII defence fortifications.

Walk under bridge past the bus station and turn right at the second hand bookshop on the corner to the Eight Bells Pub, first mentioned in 1771, then Fulham House, 1730s, five bay yellow brick front, somewhat in the manner of Vanbrugh, now used by the Territorial Army. The pedimented gateway to the forecourt is a reproduction based on old photographs. For many years the building was used as a school which was attended in the 1860s by Avis, small daughter of Anna Leonowens, the Victorian governess to the Siamese Court, subject of the romantic musical ‘The King and I’.

This walk ends here, but if you want a bit more history continue as follows:

Fulham Pottery Post Card

Walk towards New Kings Road, facing the Temperance Billiard Hall, 1909 with large barrel roof, art nouveau glass, turn right into New Kings Road, at the green railway bridge cross road and on corner of Burlington Road is the last remaining kiln from the Fulham Pottery. Continue up Burlington Road, past some buildings (now residential) which were part of Fulham Refuge, later

Fulham High Street 1863

known as Fulham Female Convict Prison (1855-1888). Turn right into Rigault Road where the present Burlington Lodge is formed out of former prison properties, notably the laundry building with it small upper windows.

On the other side of the Fulham Palace Road, you will find All Saints Church, Bishops Park, Fulham Palace and way up towards Hammersmith, Fulham Football Ground This is another expedition!

Note on Charlotte Sulivan: Charlotte Sulivan (1824-1911), lived in Broom House, a large villa, now gone, whose grounds covered much of the area of this walk, from Bells Alley down to the river. She never married and devoted much of her time and money to the welfare of local inhabitants and donated heavily to the provision of churches.

If you have enjoyed this walk either physically or virtually from your armchair particularly the detail on Parsons Green there may be more interest next year, our 50th, with a new publication written by Sue Pierson.  If you haven’t already, do get her earlier volumes on Peterborough House and Charlotte Sulivan.  See our Publications pages.


THE FORMER FULHAM GAS WORKS

6 October, 2020

In May last year our Chairman led a group of us on a short tour of Chelsea Creek, the Gas Works and Sandford Manor House.  All very much changed by gentrification of this highly developed former industrial area where Lots Road adjoins the Creek and Imperial Wharf.  For those that were not there, here is the same ground covered somewhat earlier for the Fulham Society.

Sandford Manor

The Imperial Gas Company purchased the Sandford Manor Estate in South Fulham in 1824 for use as a gasholder station. The first gas holder, with a capacity of 30,000 c/ft., was erected a little south of Sandford Manor in 1824, a second one following soon after and two more being added in 1827. The Works were started with plant from Dutton Street, Grays Inn Road, a private gasworks belonging to William Caslon, the typefounder, begun in 1820 and purchased by the Company, who transferred the plant to their Fulham site in 1829. A listed gasholder dating from 1830 still stands on the site, with a plaque erected in 1948, bearing the words “has been in constant use since 1830”. It is the oldest known gasholder in the world. In 1856 Works Offices, and storage buildings, were built on either side of the new main entrance to the works in Sands End Lane. This office building is the small stuccoed building on the old Sands End Lane frontage. Coal was always delivered to the works by water, originally via the Kensington Canal and after 1862 from the docks connected to the canal. From 1926 sea-going colliers unloaded at the riverside wharf. In 1834 the Kensington Canal Company is recorded as “repairing the banks alongside the Gas works”, and in 1836 they constructed a lay-by for barges, with a second lay-by being completed in 1844. In 1856 a dock leading into the canal was built along No 4 Retort House and in 1859 the Company bought 6 acres of land on the far side of the dock. This whole area of the works was modified in 1862 by the construction of the West London extension railway in the bed of the Kensington Canal, carrying the railway across the bridge to Clapham Junction, – officially opening in 1863. Part of the canal leading to the river was left and became a large dock for the Gas Works, joined to the existing dock by the removal of the dock gates. Imperial Square, consisting of 28 cottages for key workers, was built in 1868 just off Sands End Lane. In 1878 negotiations were concluded with the Fulham District Board of Works over the construction of Imperial Road. The Gas Light & Coke Company agreed to pay £1000 and to construct this new road as a Public Highway in consideration of Permission to partially close Sands End Lane, thus enabling the Company to incorporate within their site boundaries the land they had acquired on the other side of Sands End Lane – Emden Street then being formed to join the two roads. From 1908 until 1917, low gravity gas was made and stored separately on the site for transmission to the Hurlingham Club, where it was used for ballooning – a sport which flourished briefly at the club. In 1908 five balloon contests are recorded with the number of balloons varying from 9 – 31. It is recorded that the Club paid £300 as the first annual instalment for the laying of a special gas main. Balloon contests were still being held in the summer of 1912, but seem to have lapsed just before the beginning of the First World War In 1928 a new Laboratory building went up to designs by Walter Tapper, consulting architect to the Gas Light & Coke Company, who in the same year was made Surveyor to Westminster Abbey. In 1952, two cast iron retorts, one circular and one D section, dating from around 1843, when clay retorts replaced the original iron ones, were found in a vertical position acting as traffic bollards. They were recovered and presented to the Science Museum. In 1948 the gas industry was nationalised and the Fulham Gas Works were taken over by the North Thames Gas Board, and since the arrival of North Sea gas have been continuously run down. The southern part of the site was sold off to a private company and a large new residential development, Chelsea Creek, is currently being built. This incorporates some of the original features of the old Gas Works, including the dock with an extension to the river. The 17 acre site along Imperial Road which was formerly used for converting and storing domestic gas is now being developed as a housing estate named Kings Road Park. Luckily all the listed building on the site are being preserved– the 1927 office building, the Laboratory building, the 2 Ware Memorials and the listed Gasholder 2 which was built in 1830. The over ground structures of this gasholder will be moved

Imperial Gas Works

Imperial Gas Works

and incorporated in the new development Unfortunately the developers claimed that it would not be possible to retain the magnificent No 7 gasholder of 1877-9, which dominated the views down Imperial Road, so this had to be taken down. It was one of six gasholders designed by Vitruvius Wyatt for the Gas Light & Coke Company of which only 3 remain in London.

Of course all but the listed GasHolder have now gone.  How Fulham and Hammersmith have changed and continue to change from large country houses and market gardens to industrialised wharves and factories and now housing, retail and white collar work of all kinds! Where to next – FHHS will be there to record!