Background info

Hammersmith and Fulham is a riverine borough of West London, between Kensington to the east and Hounslow to the west. It faces Wandsworth and Barnes across the River Thames. Its population is around 150,000.

The first people we know about in the area that is now Hammersmith and Fulham were Neolithic tribes who lived by the riverside 5,000 years ago. Excavations have revealed Bronze Age remains in Hammersmith by the former Creek, and Roman settlements during the third and fourth centuries CE.

The name ‘Fulham’ is believed to derive from ‘a settlement by the muddy ford’. In 704AD, Waldhere, Bishop of London, acquired a place called ‘Fulanham’ from the Bishop of Hereford. In the Domesday Book of 1086 the Manor of Fuleham covered a wider area. At this time it was divided into ‘Hammersmith-side’ and ‘Fulham-side’, the boundary being the track now called Hammersmith Road in the east, and further west the Black Bull Ditch, one of the now-buried minor rivers of London which has its outfall by the present-day Riverside Studios. This boundary lasted until 1881 when it was shifted slightly eastwards; more recently it has been rationalised and follows an east-west line further south.

The placename of ‘Hammersmith’ is first mentioned as ‘Hamersmyth’ in 1294, and there are various explanations for it including the village (‘ham’) by the harbour (‘hythe’).

British History Online – Fulham

British History Online – Fulham: Walham Green and North End

British History Online – Hammersmith

History of Fulham Palace

See Map of London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham


3000 BCE Neolithic peoples in Fulham Riverside area

200-400 CE Roman settlers

1629 Building of Chapel-at-Ease at Hammersmith originates separate parish of Hammersmith

1729 Construction of the first Fulham Bridge eases access across the river

1820-1 Queen Caroline, the estranged wife of the Prince Regent, lives at Brandenburgh House and is much supported by the local people

1870-90 Coming of the railways and mass building of housing in both Hammersmith and Fulham

1878-96 William Morris, Socialist and publisher, lives at Kelmscott House, Hammersmith Mall

1870s Fulham North End named ‘West Kensington’ in an attempt to move upmarket

1897 The Vineyard, last of the market gardens for which the area was once famous, closes down

1905-34 Gustav Holst, composer of The Planets and Hammersmith Suite, is director of music at St Paul’s Girls’ School, Brook Green

1918 Nigel Playfair takes over and reopens the Lyric Theatre, now one of the most renowned theatres in London

1920s Borough population reaches its peak of 288,000 due to largescale employment in riverside industries

1940-45 Around 5,500 borough inhabitants killed by Axis bombing

1944-5 Field Marshal Montgomery is headquartered at St Paul’s School, Hammersmith Road

1950 Construction of the A4 along the line of Talgarth Road, forming a physical barrier between north and south sides of the Borough

1965 The Metropolitan Boroughs of Fulham and Hammersmith are merged into the London Borough of Hammersmith. ‘and Fulham’ is added in 1975

1968 Demolition of St Paul’s School under local protest. The neighbouring and contemporary Colet Court is preserved and renovated in 1990

1994 Hammersmith Broadway rebuilt.

Further Reading (not FHHS publications)

  • Images of London: Fulham, Patrick Loobey, Tempus, 2004
  • Images of London: Hammersmith and Fulham Pubs, Chris Amies, Tempus, 2004
  • The Changing Face of Hammersmith and Fulham, Jane Kimber and Francis Serjeant, LBHF / Breedon, 2002
  • Past and Present Hammersmith and Fulham, Patrick Loobey, 2002
  • Hammersmith and Fulham: The Twentieth Century, Christine Bayliss and Jane Kimber, LBHF and Sutton Publishing, 1999
  • Fulham Past, Barbara Denny, Historical Publications, 1997
  • Fulham in Old Photographs, Christine Bayliss and Jane Kimber, H&F Archives / Sutton Publishing, 1996
  • Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush Past, Barbara Denny, Historical Publications, 1995
  • Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush in Old Photographs, Jerome Farrell and Christine Bayliss, Sutton, 1995
  • Hammersmith, Warwick Draper, 1913, since reprinted
  • Fulham Old and New, C.J. Fèret, 1900
  • The Lost Rivers of London, Nicholas Barton, Historical Publications, 1962 (revised 1992)
  • The West London Railway and the W.L.E.R., HV Borley and RW Kidner, Oakwood Press, 1968 (revised 1981)
  • The Archaeology of Hammersmith and Fulham, Peter Mills and David Whipp, Inner London Archaeological Unit, 1980
  • Your Guide to Hammersmith and Fulham, Hammersmith and Fulham Council Communications Department, ?1999


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