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.
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 email@example.com
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.
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.
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.
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 …)
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
PS: Those who pay their subscriptions by cheque should know these are now due and should be sent to:
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.