The average house price in the London borough of Hammersmith & Fulham is now about £525,000, making it the third most expensive place in Britain to live - beaten only by Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster. Yet not so very many years ago Fulham and Hammersmith were solidly working-class suburbs. Now the borough is true-blue Tory, with a council leader, Stephen Greenhalgh, who is at the forefront of Prime Minister David Cameron’s mission to reform local government.
Hammersmith and Fulham, and more especially Fulham, are now part of London’s banker belt, which stretches in a crescent through south-west London starting in Chelsea and sweeping through Fulham before it crosses the Thames and curves round to Putney, Barnes, Wandsworth and Clapham, where City bonuses produced a hike in house prices.
Fulham is where relatively modest Victorian and Edwardian terrace houses have doubled in size with Tardis-like extensions, lofts, new basements and covered side returns. It makes financial sense for their owners not to move but improve both their interiors, and the areas in which they live.
Fulham is now spoilt for international restaurants, cappuccino cafés, croissant shops and wine bars. Gyms and personal trainers work hard to squeeze the girls into the gear on the rails at the designer boutiques.
What there is to buy in Fulham
Fulham comprises mainly Victorian terrace houses, ranging in size from two-bedroom cottages to seven-bedroom mansions, though in recent years riverside flats have been built on old industrial sites in the Sands End area, west of Wandsworth Bridge Road and south of King’s Road.
The area attracts families with City bonus money, and these now populate the most sought-after roads - the closer to the Hurlingham Club the higher the price. Fulham is also popular with ex-public school-kids as first-time buyers, funded by generous parents.
Staying power: Many Fulham families send their children to boarding school at 13 and will move out to Hampshire or the M4 corridor at that stage.
The Fulham postcode is SW6, but the area north of Lillie Road is W6, the Hammersmith postcode, and west of Queen’s Club it is W14, the Barons Court postcode. A Fulham postcode boosts the value of a home.
The best roads can be found on the Peterborough Estate, south of New Kings Road between Parson’s Green and Walham Green, a perennially fashionable district. This is where the "Lion" houses are found - so called because their gable ends are decorated with distinctive little lion statues.
A fully extended six-bedroom house in Chipstead Street with an asking price of £3.5 million has recently gone under offer, and the very best houses here sell for around £1,000 per sq ft.
The ladder of streets between Bishops Road and Fulham Road, containing roads such as Radipole and Winchenden, are also very sought-after, as are smaller houses in the "villes" - Rosaville, Brookville and Marville, north of Bishops Road - where houses sell for between £780,000 and £1.2 million.
The Moore Park area between King’s Road and Fulham Road, close to both Fulham Broadway and Chelsea football ground, was Fulham’s first large residential development, dating from 1850; houses in these roads sell for between £1.3 million and £2 million. Walham Grove, near the bustle of North End Road Market, has a charm all of its own. A house here costs between £1.2 million and £1.8 million.
What’s new and where is up and coming
Over the past 10 years the old industrial riverside area east of Wandsworth Bridge has been cleared and redeveloped, and there is more to come with the local council consulting on the South Fulham Riverside masterplan.
Developer St George has recently completed Imperial Wharf, a mixed-use development with more than 2,000 new flats, a terrace of Georgian-style houses, shops, restaurants and a new Overground station.
St George’s newest development next door is called Chelsea Creek. The first phase, Doulton House (020 7610 9693), is selling off-plan for completion in 2013. There are one-, two- and three-bedroom flats and penthouses. Prices range from £550,950 to £5 million.
Emma Hanks of local estate agents Douglas & Gordon says the smaller terrace houses in Sands End close to Imperial Wharf still look good value.
Getting an education
Fulham is an area where many parents opt to educate their children privately and a lot of youngsters go to boarding school. Popular prep schools are Kensington Prep (girls from ages four to 11), Fulham Prep (co-ed, ages four to 13) and Thomas’s (co-ed).
There is also a choice of state primary schools which are judged "good" by the government education watchdog, Ofsted, and one, St Augustine’s RC in Disbrowe Road, which is judged "outstanding". There are a number of top-performing state secondary schools. Lady Margaret (girls ages 11 to 18, wearing distinctive maroon-and-black striped blazers); London Oratory (boys from ages seven to 18 and girls in the sixth form), and Fulham Cross (girls ages 11 to 18) are all highly rated.
Shops and restaurants
There are shops, cafés and restaurants along most of the main thoroughfares. Go furniture shopping on Fulham High Street and browse for antiques along Lillie Road close to the junction with Munster Road.
The Magic Café on Fulham Palace Road has a front terrace awash with white busy lizzies and cosmos, while nearby Dr Ink is one of London’s best shops for beer.
At the bottom end of Fulham Road, Cope’s fish shop does a good trade. Further along, the Local Hero café is popular and Parson’s Nose is a renowned butcher. At Parson’s Green on New Kings Road, Elizabeth King is a long-established deli and butcher. The Harwood Arms in Walham Grove is the only pub in London to hold a Michelin star. It specialises in seasonal country fare, a formula also followed at the Sands End pub in Stephendale Road, a favourite with Princes William and Harry. For peasant Italian food with a credit card-busting bill there is the River Café in Rainville Road.
* 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.
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Open space, leisure and the arts
The Hurlingham Club, for those who are members, is an exclusive private park and sports club with a Thames frontage. Bishops Park may not be so grand but it has the beautiful Fulham Palace, which is undergoing restoration and now has a café, museum and gallery. Eel Brook Common and South Park are popular smaller parks.
The Fulham Pools in Normand Park off Lillie Road has two public swimming pools and a Virgin Active gym. There are also swimming pools at the exclusive Harbour Club, which was Princess Diana’s favourite health club, and at the David Lloyd centre on Fulham Broadway. The nearest multiplex is the Vue cinema in Fulham shopping centre.
Fulham offers easy access to the M4 and M3. There are three Tube stations on the Wimbledon branch of the District line: Fulham Broadway, Parson’s Green and Putney Bridge, all in Zone 2 (annual travelcard to Zone 2 is £1,104.
Imperial Wharf is a new Overground station, one stop from Clapham Junction, for trains to central London, and there’s West Brompton to connect with the District line. It is also two stops from Shepherd’s Bush and the Westfield shopping centre.
Council: London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham is Conservative controlled; Band D council tax for the 2011/2012 year is £1,121.60.
Buying in Fulham
One-bedroom flat £294,000
Two-bedroom flat £443,000
Two-bedroom house £676,000
Three-bedroom house £820,000
Four-bedroom house £1.1 million
Renting in Fulham
One-bedroom flat £350 to £375 a week
Two-bedroom flat £400 to 475 a week
Two-bedroom house £450 to £500 a week
Three-bedroom house £600 to £750 a week
Four-bedroom house £750 to 900 a week
Five-bedroom house £1,000 to £1,800 a week
Source: Chesterton Humberts
Photographs: Graham Hussey