Earning its place as west London’s busiest transport and employment hub, traffic hurtles around Hammersmith Broadway on its way to the M4, while workers arrive and depart via a busy bus station and four different Tube lines. Some very big-name international companies are based here, including Coca-Cola, L’Oréal and Disney.
This is the public face of Hammersmith, but behind the noisy high street exists a quiet and tranquil other life — where residents enjoy beautiful Thames walks, some of London’s best private schools, a nice collection of pubs, and streets of handsome Victorian houses.
Paul Cooney, of estate agents Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, says that away from the main roads, Hammersmith reminds him of a well-heeled country town.
“Family houses in particular are much in demand. So few people are moving that we are now getting record prices for three- and four-bedroom homes, with several families chasing each house.”
Hammersmith’s main housing stock is Victorian, although there are fine Georgian houses on Hammersmith Mall, Upper Mall and Chiswick Mall and in St Peter’s Square. The Victorian houses include pretty painted semi-detached villas; two-, three- and four-storey terraces, tiny flat-fronted cottages and some mansion flats.
Who comes and who stays?
Single professionals and professional couples like the good transport links, while families come for the schools. There is strong rental demand from the international companies based in the area and from nearby Charing Cross Hospital.
There is a strong community spirit, especially in the area which estate agents call “Brackenbury Village”, around Brackenbury Road between Glenthorne Road and Goldhawk Road. People quickly become Hammersmith converts and tend to stay here.
Which are the best streets?
W6 is the Hammersmith postcode and it neatly defines the area.
The large houses in St Peter’s Square sell for as much as £3 million and are some of the best in the area. In Ravenscourt Road there are large Victorian houses overlooking the park that sell for around £2 million, and in Hammersmith Grove similar houses sell for around £1.5 million.
The most expensive house currently for sale in Hammersmith is in Ravenscourt Road overlooking the park’s bowling green. It has six bedrooms and is on the market through Douglas & Gordon (020 8563 7100) for £2.95 million.
In Brackenbury Village the best roads are the blossom roads: Brackenbury Road, Tabor Road and Bradmore Park Road.
What’s new and up and coming?
Linden Homes is building Hammersmith Central in Glenthorne Road, a block of 81 one-, two- and three-bedroom flats, five of which have been specially built for wheelchair users. Call Currell New Homes on 020 7226 6611, or D&G Estates on 020 7584 7838.
There are five shared-ownership flats available through Affinity Sutton on 0300 100 0303. The development is selling off-plan and will be ready for occupation in the autumn.
Local residents campaigning against a new regeneration scheme by Grainger and Helical Bar around the town hall in King Street have recently succeeded in getting the developers to rethink their plans. The scheme would involve knocking down an ugly Seventies council building, the cinema and a Friends’ Meeting house and replacing them with a new town hall building and public square.
What proved controversial was the plan for two 14-storey blocks of flats which campaigners claimed would ruin the setting of Hammersmith’s historic riverside. The developers have now promised to reduce the height of the scheme, with new plans up for consultation later this year.
Paul Cooney, of Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, says many families are looking north of the Goldhawk Road to the area around Wendell Park. “It is the less-favoured W12 postcode but buyers get an extra 500 or so square feet for their money,” he says.
Getting an education
Schools, both state and private, are a big attraction for parents. Three state primary schools are judged “outstanding” by the Government’s education watchdog, Ofsted: Brackenbury in Dalling Road, John Betts in Paddenswick Road, and St Peter’s in St Peter’s Road.
There are two “outstanding” RC comprehensives: Sacred Heart (girls) in Hammersmith Road, which Tony Blair’s daughter Kathryn attended, and Cardinal Vaughan (boys, with girls in the sixth form) in Addison Road. Fulham Cross (girls 11 to 16) in Munster Road in nearby Fulham is also judged “outstanding”, as is William Morris, a sixth-form college, in St Dunstan’s Road.
Three of the capital’s top private schools are in Hammersmith: St Paul’s Girls’ (age 11 to18); Godolphin and Latymer (girls, age 11 to 18) and Latymer (mixed, age seven to 18). St Paul’s (boys 13 to 18) and its prep school Colet Court (boys age seven to 13) is across the river in Barnes. Bute House (girls age four to 11) is a popular girls’ prep school and Ravenscourt Park prep school (mixed, age four to 11) is non-selective.
Shopping and dining
Shops are not good. There are high street chains in the Broadway and King’s Mall shopping centres and along King Street, but the western end of the street is tatty with many empty shops. Tiger, in King’s Mall, is a Danish variety chain, with only a few UK stores — imagine a stylish Woolies.
West Six in Ravenscourt Avenue is a newly opened garden centre. Stentons in Aldensley Road in Brackenbury Village is a long-established butcher. Salads are a big hit in Hammersmith with lovely displays at Blanche Eaterie in Beadon Road, close to the Lyric Theatre; at Fait Maison in Goldhawk Road, and in the café in Ravenscourt Park.
Independent shops and restaurants are more in evidence along Shepherd’s Bush Road, where there is Oliver Bonas for gifts and clothes and Holloways of Ludlow for lighting, kitchen design and reclaimed and recycled household items. Malina describes itself as a Polish restaurant “with a modern twist”; Kerbisher & Malt is a smart fish and chip shop, and Los Molinos is a Spanish tapas bar.
Other popular Hammersmith restaurants are The Gate, a renowned vegetarian restaurant in Queen Caroline Street close to the Hammersmith Apollo; the Anglesea Arms in Wingate Street and The Grove in Hammersmith Grove — two gastropubs — and a new branch of Raoul’s café and deli, also in Hammersmith Grove. Indian Zing, an Indian restaurant on King Street, has a strong following, and the Dove on Upper Mall is one of London’s most historic and atmospheric pubs.
* 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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For open space, Hammersmith through to Chiswick, Strand-on-the-Green and Kew is one of the most beautiful stretches of the Thames. Ravenscourt Park is a much-loved local park with a bowling green, flower garden, children’s playgrounds, tennis courts and many unusual trees.
The nearest council-owned swimming pools are the Fulham Pools in Normand Park. Hammersmith is the centre of west London’s theatre and music scene with the Lyric, Riverside Studios and the Bush for theatre; the Hammersmith Apollo, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, and the Bush Hall for music. Cineworld in King Street is the local multiplex cinema, although if the town hall regeneration scheme gets the go-ahead this will be lost. Art films are shown at the Riverside Studios.
Hammersmith is on the A4 giving quick access to the M4 motorway and Heathrow. It has three underground stations all in Zone 2: Hammersmith (District, Piccadilly, Hammersmith & City and Circle lines; Goldhawk Road (Hammersmith & City and Circle lines) and Ravenscourt Park (District line). An annual travel card to Zone 1 costs £1,104.
Hammersmith and Fulham (Conservative-controlled); Band D council tax for the 2011/2012 year is £1,121.60.
Buying in Hammersmith
One-bedroom flat £269,000
Two-bedroom flat £389,000
Two-bedroom house £650,000
Three-bedroom house £709,000
Four-bedroom house £917,000
Renting in Hammersmith
One-bedroom flat £275 to £350 a week
Two-bedroom flat £325 to £650 a week
Two-bedroom house £400 to £800 a week
Three-bedroom house £450 to £1,500 a week
Four-bedroom house £600 to £1,800 a week
Source: Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward
Pictures: Barry Phillips