A LITTLE LOCAL RETAIL HISTORY

4 April, 2022

A new member, Mr Orman, has contributed this youtube video that tracks the site of Hurlingbookshop over the years. It is a charming and well researched piece that is quite long for youtube but well worth a view.

A bit of unashamed advertising too!

Maybe you have a local vignette of potted history too?

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Parson’s Green

6 March, 2022

The new publication by Sue and Lance Pierson on the ‘irregular triangle’ in Fulham has just been published, and is available for £6.00 plus postage and packing. CheckPublications page for full details

Why not puchase the new edition of Hammersmith Bridge £10.00at the same time and save on postage and packaging


OLD OAK LODGE

26 January, 2022

More from the ever resourceful Peter Trott in one article it encapsulates the speed of change in LBHF at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. For context here is John Rocque’s map of 1771.

John Rocque’s map 1771

From a few big houses admist fields and orchards to city in 150 years!

Old Oak Lodge

At one time Rosebank Road led to Old Oak Lodge, but now any archaeological evidence of the Lodge lies beneath Galloway Road in Shepherd’s Bush.

There is no record of when Rosebank Road was named but it may have been built as a driveway to the Lodge. I have not discovered when the lodge was built. It is not shown on John Salter’s 1830 map but it is named on James Wyld’s map of 1848.

John Wyld’s map of 1848

It may have been built before 1841 but unfortunately the census for that year mainly consists of names and only a few premises are actually listed. In the 1851 census Henry Cressweller and his family are listed as the residents and by 1861 market gardener George Cutts was living there. Shortly afterwards engraver William Henry McQueen moved in with his family. William died in the Lodge in 1867.

In 1881 Old Oak Lodge was listed as standing between the Vicarage of St. Luke’s Church and The British Queen public house. Shortly after that the Lodge was numbered as 390 Uxbridge Road. In 1886 William’s wife Jane also died in the Lodge. Her unmarried daughter Jane Harriot McQueen was the sole beneficiary and became the owner of the Lodge.

The 1891 census shows Jane living there with a cook and housemaid. There were adjoining stables with rooms occupied by a coachman and his family and a gardener and his family.

1893 – 96 OS map

By 1901 Jane was living there with her niece Jane Braithwaite and her husband plus their three children, a servant, a coachman, his wife and two children, and a gardener and his daughter plus her family.

Postcard sent to Jane’s niece in 1904

Jane was still on the electoral roll for 390 Uxbridge Road in 1906, which was around the time that there were plans to demolish the Lodge and build a new road. On 15th May 1907 there was an application for the proposed new road to be named Galloway Road. This coincided with the change of numbering on the Uxbridge Road and the 1907 electoral roll lists Jane at 444 Uxbridge Road. The Lodge was probably demolished before the electoral roll was published. Jane moved to Yiewsley, 1 Cumberland Road, Acton and first appears on the electoral roll in 1913. She died two years later and was buried in the large private family grave at Brompton Cemetery.

This article (with several errors) appeared in The West London Observer on 22 January 1915:

‘A very old inhabitant of Shepherds Bush has passed away in Miss Jean Harriet McQueen, who died at Yewsley, Cumberland Road, Acton on the 13th January in her 85th year. Miss McQueen was the surviving child of the late Mr W H McQueen of the Old Oak Lodge, Uxbridge Road where he brought up his family in the middle of the last century. Mr McQueen was one of the partners in the well-known firm of sporting print sellers whose series of racehorses, jockeys and race courses were so popular some years ago. The firm also engraved for a great many mid-Victorian artists. Miss McQueen was a loyal supporter of St Luke’s Church, Uxbridge Road from the time when the church was first built until she sold her own estate and went to live in Acton. The site of the Old Oak Lodge and its grounds is now occupied by Wormholt Road. The funeral took place at Acton Parish Church on Monday and she was interred at Brompton Cemetery.’

1910 Inland Revenue map

The above map from the Layers of London website shows the newly built Galloway Road superimposed on the 1893 – 96 OS map with the position of Old Oak Lodge clearly visible.


FULHAM AND HAMMERSMITH HISTORICAL SOCIETY TOUR OF MARGRAVINE CEMETERY

15 September, 2021

By our Guide Robert Stephenson

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 Chapel

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.

FHHS Members taking refreshment after their tour

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.


BEATRIX POTTER – WAS PETER RABBIT BORN IN SHEPHERD’S BUSH?

4 August, 2021

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.

Peter Rabbit 50p

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.

Peter Rabbit 50p Reverse

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.

90 Uxbridge Road

The row of shops in the photo are now from left to right KFC, Cashino, Superdrug and McDonalds.


CHARLES CONINGHAM TUBBS AND THE CONINGHAM ARMS PUB

8 July, 2021

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.

The Old Pub Sign

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.

Conningham Arms Today

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’.

Recent Pub Sign

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.


A SHORT HISTORY OF ASKEW ROAD

27 May, 2021

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 her website

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 Scotland website

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 Marryat Books

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.

Askew Road early 1900

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.

Starch Green Pond Askew Road

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.


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.


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