Now one of the capital’s more elite neighbourhoods, it was not long ago that Fulham, in south-west London, was considered a rather down-at-heel working-class suburb only able to look on in envy at its neighbour, Chelsea.
On the north side of the Thames, it sits snugly in a deep curve of the river. It has two Premier League football clubs as bookends: Fulham at Craven Cottage and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Lillie Road marks its northern boundary and the Clapham Junction to Willesden Junction railway marks its boundary with Chelsea to the east.
The changing political make-up of the local council demonstrates how Fulham has been transformed over the past 40 years. In May this year, Fulham residents voted in 22 Conservative councillors and only one from Labour; in 1970 it had 28 Labour councillors staring at two lonely Tories. Lindsay Cuthill of Savills, who has worked in Fulham for 25 years, says the area has become increasingly affluent and international.
Property: the houses are almost entirely Victorian or Edwardian, from little two-up, two-down cottages to large five- and six-bedroom double-fronted Edwardian mansions; but there are also flats in converted period houses and some mansion flats.
Price per square foot is between £750 and £1,000, which is still cheaper than Chelsea. Fulham pioneered the big basement dig-out because it made financial sense. There it costs around £300 a sq ft to dig out a basement, but it can add £750 a sq ft to the eventual selling price.
The area attracts: mainly young professionals buying their first home with help from their parents, or young families. According to Cuthill, eight in 10 of buyers work in finance.
Staying power: is average, with houses being sold every five to seven years. Some families move out of London once their children reach secondary school age.
Best streets: the most expensive houses are around the Hurlingham Club, where an Edwardian semi-detached house costs between £2 million and £4 million. The ladder of roads known as the “alphabet streets”, near Bishop’s Park between Stevenage Road and Fulham Palace Road, has four-bedroom semi-detached Victorian houses that sell for between £1.9 million and £3.5 million. Prices of the “lion” houses on the Peterborough Estate, south of Parsons Green, start at £2 million.
Up-and-coming areas: the area around Fulham Broadway is looking up. Next month’s opening of Union Market in the majestic old Fulham Broadway ticket office promises to be a cross between a farmers’ market and a supermarket.
Sands End is the industrial area east of Wandsworth Bridge Road off Townmead Road, full of small terrace houses. Once cut off from public transport, the new Imperial Wharf railway station improves access to this quiet corner.
What’s new: St George’s large riverside development, Imperial Wharf (020 7610 9693), is nearing completion. There are still a few affordable studio flats available for first-time buyers who live or work in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, available at the special price of £182,700 for a 70 per cent share for outright - not shared-ownership - purchase.
Schools: Fulham is full of private nurseries, pre-preps and prep schools. The Pippa Poppins nursery schools take children from one to five; Kensington Prep is for girls age four to 11; Eridge House is co-ed for ages two to 11; Fulham Prep is co-ed for ages four to 13.
Thomas’s takes children aged from four to 11. Among state schools, the Roman Catholic London Oratory, where Tony Blair’s two elder boys went, is judged “outstanding” by Ofsted. It takes boys from age seven, with girls in the sixth form. Lady Margaret on Parsons Green is a popular girls’ comprehensive that gets excellent results; Fulham Cross Girls is another comprehensive that is judged to be “outstanding” by Ofsted.
Shops and restaurants: Fulham has many interesting independent shops along Wandsworth Bridge Road, New Kings Road, Fulham Road, Munster Road and Lillie Road. Ian Mankin in Wandsworth Bridge Road stocks traditional furnishing fabrics such as ticking and linens.
Decorators make a beeline for the row of antique shops in Lillie Road, where shabby chic reigns. Along Fulham Road find Cath Kidston, Nomad bookshop and café and Emma Bridgewater.
On New Kings Road at Parsons Green, food shop Elizabeth King occupies three units, including a butcher; Friarwood stocks fine wines, while Gail Berry has recently opened a romantic little boutique.
There are two notable gastropubs: the Harwood Arms in Walham Grove has recently won a Michelin star, and Sands End in Stephendale Road is reputed to be a favourite with Princes William and Harry. The White Horse on Parsons Green, affectionately known as the “Sloaney Pony” due to its clientele, is famous for its summer barbecues.
* MORE ON THE BOROUGH OF HAMMERSMITH AND FULHAM:
For more local restaurants, pubs, bars, theatres, cinemas or attractions; or to book a table or tickets for a night out, visit LondonLive.co.uk/Hammersmith-and-Fulham.
Search properties, jobs or dates in any London boroughs.
Open spaces: the members-only Hurlingham Club occupies acres of green space overlooking the Thames. Luckily for Fulham there are other parks and open spaces. Bishop’s Park has recently won a £3.65 million Lottery grant to reinstate the Edwardian riverside beach and restore the palace grounds.
Leisure and arts: the Fulham Pools in Lillie Road has a 25m pool and a smaller learners’ pool. There is a multiscreen cinema in the Fulham Broadway shopping centre.
Transport: Fulham Broadway, Parsons Green and Putney Bridge Tube stations are on the Wimbledon branch of the District line.
Imperial Wharf train station connects with central London via Clapham Junction - 20 minutes to Victoria. All stations are in Zone 2 and an annual travelcard covering zones 1 and 2 costs £1,032.
Council: Hammersmith & Fulham is Conservative controlled and Band D council tax for the 2010/2011 year is £1,121.60.
SW6 average sale prices
One-bedroom flat: £300,000
Two-bedroom flat: £430,000
Two-bedroom house: £690,000
Four-bedroom house: £1 million
Five-bedroom house and above: £1.4 million
SW6 rental prices
One-bedroom flat: £275 to £375pw
Two-bedroom flat: £350 to £500pw
Two-bedroom house: £425 to £700pw
Four-bedroom house: £600 to £1,700pw
Five-bedroom house and above: £1,000 to £2,750pw
Pictures by Barry Phillips
All details correct at time of publication (23 June, 2010)