A SHORT WALK THROUGH HAMMERSMITH AND SHEPHERDS BUSH

12 May, 2020

During the present restrictions I’m taking walks for exercise but also hoping to discover more, as I walk, about local history.

Today I’m starting out from home in Brackenbury Village, walking briskly through side streets and making sure to keep my distance from other people according to the rules.

I’m going up Iffley Road and noticing that work is commencing again on No. 41 which is being refurbished and renovated for up-to-date studio space. When I first moved to the area I was stunned by the wonderful

Iffley Road Mission
c/r Historic England

which is in a 15th century Venetian Gothic style. Quite unexpected in an ordinary residential road. I’ve learned that the original Mission Hall was built in 1883-4 by the architect H.R. Gough before the rest of the street and is Grade 2 listed. There is a blue plaque to the scenic artist John Campbell who worked here. Sadly most of the façade is at present hidden behind scaffolding but you can see the very top from the road. I can’t wait for the work to be finished!

I’m now heading down Sycamore Gardens towards Goldhawk Road. I really like the almshouses with their pleasant outside space. What I’ve learnt is that Sycamore House was built in 1950 and renovated in 2012. It is supported by what was originally Dr Edwards’s and Bishop King’s Fulham Charity and is now Hammersmith United Charities. John King was Bishop of London from 1611 to 1621. In his will he left £20 to be bestowed upon the poor of the parish at the discretion of his wife. The first distribution of “a twopenny loafe of breed and a pice of befe to eleven poor people of Fulham and fourteen poor people of Hammersmith” was made on Easter Eve 1623.

On I go across Goldhawk Road and then left along Lime Grove. The very impressive façade on the left was originally that of

Hammersmith Bath House

Hammersmith Public Baths. The full name is still proudly displayed on the façade. Apparently it opened in 1906. The website “Finding Lidos: Dive into lost Lidos” tells me that “the walls were lined with glazed tiles and the bath was converted into a public hall on some occasions often staging boxing matches.” During the first World War it served as a public food kitchen. It is now apparently converted into residential flats.

On the right are Gaumont Terrace and Gainsborough Court. I’m pleased that the original names remain from the film studios that were here from 1915. Alfred Hitchcock made “The 39 Steps” here in 1935 and David Lean and Michael Powell worked here. When I lived in Shepherds Bush I remember the impressive Gaumont Towers which dominated the surrounding streets. They were demolished in 1993. I’m surprised that I don’t remember that happening as it must have been a very noisy and dramatic affair!

Now across Uxbridge Road and left down Frithville Gardens. There are tall trees in the distance at the end of the road which look quite promising. Yes…it is a park… Hammersmith Park (although it is in Shepherds Bush!). There is a small rock garden with a bridge and a pool. An unexpectedly calm space with beautiful trees and plants. The notice board tells me that it

Photograph of White City Japanese British Exhibition

Japanese British Exhibition

was the site of the 1908 Olympic Games and the Japan British Exhibition in 1910. The rock garden is on the site of a traditional Japanese garden and it still has a Japanese feel to it. The avenue of traditional stone lanterns is unfamiliar to me: apparently it was added in 2018 together with an authentic Japanese gateway by the Japan Society, the Embassy of Japan and various local businesses and Japanese companies. The original gateway from 1910 is now in Kew Gardens as part of a Garden of Harmony. That gateway was restored in 1996 before creation of the Japanese landscape around it at Kew.

Just around the corner is the QPR football stadium. Maybe I’ll go back home another way past the stadium and down Bloemfontein Road. The South African street names are interesting: most people think that they relate to the British Commonwealth and Franco British exhibitions of 1908.

I’ve enjoyed my walk. As well as appreciating being out of doors I have learnt quite a bit about the local area. I’m sure that there is much that I have missed and so I will be walking that way again soon!

Susan Richards

II – POSTSCRIPT

Quick as a flash these old photos came to hand, hope they add some flavour if not colour.

Iffley Road

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lime Grove


THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN FULHAM AND HAMMERSMITH & THE POSTCODE ANOMALY

2 May, 2020

An article written by our Chairman for the Hammersmith and Fulham Historic Buildings Group.

Fulham was inhabited in Roman times, probably until the early 5th century AD. Archaeological excavations in the late 1980s uncovered a late 5th/6th century Saxon settlement on the site of the former Manbre sugar works at the end of Winslow Road, also the remains of Parr Ditch, which is the historic boundary between Fulham and Hammersmith. Incidentally, this was the site of Brandenburg House and its grounds, the home of Queen Caroline, the divorced consort of King George IV, who died here in 1821.
After the Dark Ages the first recorded date for this location is AD704/5 when the Bishop of the East Saxons (London) acquired a place called Fulanham from the Bishop of Hereford. It included Hammersmith and is virtually identical to the present Borough, Parr Ditch being the common boundary. The ditch was a branch of Stamford Brook that flowed down Brook Green, hence the name. After crossing Hammersmith Road, it became the boundary between Fulham and Hammersmith.
Originally the boundary was slightly south of the present day statue of Capability Brown. In the river wall may be seen the brick archway outlet of the brook and above it a stone bearing the initials HP and FP, pictured above, and the boundary line between Hammersmith Parish and Fulham Parish. The ditch was culverted as a sewer during the 19th century. This would tend to indicate that before the 8th century Fulham and Hammersmith were two separate districts but by the time of the Bishop’s acquisition the two districts had been united.
The boundary has slightly shifted over the years but basically runs along Chancellors Road, Yeldham Road, south of Margravine Gardens, west of Gliddon Road cutting through the former St Paul’s School playing fields and the school itself, then meeting the Hammersmith Road opposite Brook Green. It then turns right along the centre of Hammersmith Road ending at Addison Bridge. The other side of the railway line is Kensington. The railway follows the line of the culverted Counters Creek – also known as Billingwell Ditch – and where it enters the Thames known as Chelsea Creek (now Chelsea Harbour). Counters Creek separated Hammersmith from Kensington, and Fulham from Chelsea.
In 1857 London was a post town but due to its rapid expansion was divided up into many separate postal districts, hence SW, W, EC, N, etc. Fulham was designated as being SW, Hammersmith as W. In 1889, the Post Office decided that the part of Fulham north of Crabtree Lane would get a better delivery service from the Western District office that had its HQ at Paddington. This caused much controversy in Fulham and the Vestry Clerk wrote to the Postmaster General complaining. The Post Office was striking out Fulham on letters and writing Hammersmith. In 1906, Sir William Bull, MP for Hammersmith put a question to the Postmaster General in the House of Commons as Fulham people didn’t like being told they lived in Hammersmith. This was to no avail. The same applied to Fulham residents being told they lived in West Kensington, W. The number suffixes were added to London postal areas in 1917 to increase efficiency of delivery; it has been said to be due to the temporary employment of women postal workers due to the shortage of men because of the Great War.
The Office of National Statistics, in its Postcode Look-up User Guide 2011, states categorically that ‘Postcode areas are defined and used by Royal Mail for the purpose of efficient mail delivery and have no relationship with administrative and electoral areas’. So although Charing Cross Hospital is styled Hammersmith, W6 it is located in Fulham.
Keith Whitehouse,
Chairman
Fulham & Hammersmith Historical Society


THIS WEEK’S READING SUGGESTIONS

23 April, 2020

Here are some more books to consider if we are in this lockdown for the long run.  If not they’ll make great Christmas presents!

29 Angel 9780244803810.  A book by Barbara Tinsley and her father I devoured rapidly it faithfully portrays a 1930’s world that is rapidly slipping from our community memory.  In a charming if earthy style it is the story of young Stanley growing up in a Victorian terrace in Angel Walk Hammersmith.  The area was later truncated by the A4 fly-over.  It is a piece of powerful social history but also contains a story of a secret garden enjoyed by father and daughter.  There is a detective story to be solved.  Whose garden was it and why was it left neglected for decades?
A must read for anyone living in the area or students of social history and the very different lives of our grandparents and greatgrandparents era.
A snippet is online here.  It can be bought from Blackwells or Lulu.

Some more gems:

Fulham Past by Barbara Denny 9780948667435 lots of detail and photos
London’s Lost Rivers by Paul Talling 9781847945976 this includes several of our own.
How to Read London by Chris Rogers 9781782404521

More local books this time from Caroline MacMillan who will be familiar to the many who have taken her guided walks.  www.westlondonwalks.co.uk The vibrant modern photographs are interspersed with historical notes anchoring them to the past.  As well as the history of the area, each book contains two guided walks.

Wild about Fulham  9780993319310
Wild about Hammersmith  and Brook Green 9780957044777
Wild about Shepherd’s Bush and Askew Road  9780993319327

Again for those seeking fiction anchored in our area then try:

London by Edward Rutherford of Sarum fame 9780099551379
Capital Crimes Edited by Martin Edwards 9780712357494
The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz 9781784757236 opens on the Fulham Road!


WEST LONDON NURSERY GARDENS

14 April, 2020

Having taken the advice offered in the latest Newsletter to consider our publications I selected at random West London Nursery Gardens.  I must be frank up front I have little interest in gardening and tended to render what I touched brown!  This is especially true now we only have a balcony and my limited skills of mowing, digging and harvesting apples are no longer required!

I got stuck into this 163 pages plus illustrations volume and was pleasently surprised.  The names of flowers leapt out to prompt my memories of my Northern Grandfather banging on about his successes on the allotment.  In fact the book is as much a social history as a botanical one.  The histories start in the 1660s through to the start of the 20th century.  Information gleaned from rate books, directories, private papers and gardening magazines and catalogues has been used to set out not only the bare facts but a little about the owners of each enterprise.

These men, and sometimes their widows, created a new line of business initially centred on London and botanical trophies of the age of discovery.  A fashion for ornate gardens and unusual plants amongst the landed gentry fed the businesses.  This grew eventually to the classless hobby of many but by then nurseries were more widespread and the land in London was more valuable for housing.

These were often men of humble origin from all over the country gardeners to the rich who grasped an opportunity.  The work and fresh air clearly had its rewards as several lived into their 80’s and 90’s.  The opposite is also true – at least 2 careers were ruined by falls from horseback. In the 19th century more

West London Nursery Gardens

middleclass businessmen tried their hand in this world of plants often driven by an interst in botany or exploring for species to cultivate.

Families are also featured heavily with sons following fathers into the business or associated areas.  Many had 2 or more wives and very many children with many dying young.  Whilst I know my grandparents were from large families the levels of child mortality and deaths in childbirth have slipped beyond living memory.

It also relates much about the geography of our streets today as land was given up for building the pockets of land often recognisable.

This book is definitely worth a read; gardener or not!

John H

II – Post Script

Anyone thinking about reading this book or just curious will find this map from the excellent National Library of Scotland’s website very helpful.  Although later than most of the activity it does show many of the remaining nurseries surviving as development crept westwards.

It also shows the scattering of large houses amongst the market gardens that may feature in Keith’s talk post lockdown!


HISTORY AT OUR FEET

5 September, 2018

We all travel around London heading to our destination and probably not noticing the history on the pavements of our streets. Much of course is modern and ever changing. The Victorian pavements clearly had stone paving as can be seen where there are still coal-hole covers set into the stone. Elsewhere the concrete slabs have taken over. These coal-hole covers themselves vary from the generic mass produced versions to those bearing names of local purveyors. These are all from Fulham streets in a very small area.
Coal Hole London

Coal Hole London

Coal Hole Mansfield

Coal Hole Mansfield

There are also markings on kerb stones: these in Munster Road are believed to mark the pitches of the now defunct street market. They consist of a series of arrow head inscriptions about 15 feet apart with a number inbetween.

Kerb Munster Road

Kerb Munster Road

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kerb - Hammersmith TerraceSome are more difficult to understand such as this one on Hammersmith Terrace we saw when viewing St Peter’s square and Black Lion Lane area earlier in the year.

or this in Clareville Street Kensington

Kerb Clareville St

Kerb Clareville St

– possibly long gone utilities?

More modern are the utility manhole covers; for example you can see the morphing of GPO to Post Office Telephones, British Telecom, BT and Open Reach. The water companies show a similar pattern of change from local utilities to a modern day giant company.

This boundary stone doesn’t seem to relate to known land owners so there is a story to discover here.

Boundary Stone

Boundary Stone

 

 

Postbox Warwick Gardens

Postbox Warwick Gardens

 

 

 

Of course there are the obvious such as this post box in Warwick Gardens Kensington

Gate in Bloom Park Rd

Gate in Bloom Park Rd

or this original gate on Bloom Park Road  although sadly not many of these are left. The original lock plate is still in place containing the mark of its Glasgow makers.  Britain was a very connected society even then.

So our London streets can reveal their history even on a walk to work or the shops.


BROMPTON CEMETERY

2 June, 2017

TUESDAY 6 JUNE, 6.30PM
The forecast is for a bright evening so why not join us on a
VISIT TO BROMPTON CEMETERY Led by Keith Whitehouse.
During the 19th century, with the growth of London,
churchyards were becoming full so enterprising business
men decided to build private cemeteries laid out as parks.
Brompton was opened in 1840 and included catacombs. It
was consecrated by the Bishop of London. The first burial
was Emma Shaw from Fulham. Many famous people are
buried here as were residents of Fulham and
Hammersmith. Emmeline Pankhurst, Richard Tauber,
Constant Lambert and Albert Smith of Mont Blanc fame
to name just a few. There are many fine monuments
including one designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones. One of the finest cemeteries in London.
Meet outside the entrance in Old Brompton Road.
Bus: 74 and 430 stop outside.
Tube: West Brompton (next to cemetery)
FREE


THE BIRD FAMILY OF HAMMERSMITH

3 April, 2017

TUESDAY 11 APRIL, 7:30PM
We had a lively AGM re-electing the Committee and officers and were treated to the postponed talk on “Mr Albert Smith’s Ascent of Mont Blanc” by our chairman. Amazingly this doctor cum dentist and adventurer found it better to run theatre shows of his adventures; becoming popular in the highest circles including the Queen.

Keith also did a succesful talk on the postal services in Fulham and Hammersmith at the West London Local History Conference. He and our secretary sold 80 books so a great success.

Our next event will be Jacina Bird talking about her forebears who during the 19th century built much of Hammersmith including St Peter’s Church and the stone piers of the first Hammersmith bridge. The talk will be supplemented by slides and items from family collection.

So do join us for what promises to be an interesting talk at 7:30pm in St Clements Hall Fulham Palace Road near the corner of Crabtree Lane details of buses etc in the Newsletter


Party in the Park (Ravenscourt) 24 July

20 July, 2014

For those in the Ravenscourt Park and Askew Road areas of Hammersmith, the Party in the Park on Thursday presents an opportunity to learn more about local history from Caroline Macmillan. Sounds like fun too. See this link for details.