There are some areas of London that seem to exist in a limbo, eclipsed by better-known neighbours, and West Kensington is one. Sitting west of Holland Park, east of Hammersmith, north of Fulham and south of Shepherd’s Bush, West Kensington is an area which repays the effort needed to discover its charms.
Away from the roaring traffic along the Hammersmith and Talgarth roads, there are streets of large houses — now mostly broken up into large and spacious flats — mansion flats, and two- and three-storey mainly Victorian houses.
Away from these busy thoroughfares, there are schools, gastropubs and small parades of independent shops; and in the south-east corner, the eventual redevelopment of the 77-acre Earls Court exhibition centre will bring a new high street, four new mini villages and as many as 8,000 new homes.
What’s on offer
Properties: West Kensington contains a number of conservation areas and groups of interesting listed buildings. There are the famous listed St Paul’s Studios along Talgarth Road with their large north-facing windows; lesser known are the artists’ studios in Margravine Road, while there is a small artist’s house designed by CFA Voysey, the Arts & Crafts architect, in St Dunstan’s Road. One of the St Paul’s Studios is for sale for £1.395 million through Shaws (020 7386 9996).
Around Brook Green there are large family houses, including the house occupied by the Silver Studio, an early 20th-century textile design studio started by Arthur Silver, which produced designs for Liberty and Sanderson.
The five-bedroom Silver Studio house is currently on sale for £2.1 million through estate agent Finlay Brewer (020 7371 4171).
The mansion flats in the Fitzgeorge and Fitzjames conservation area contain some of the largest purpose-built flats in the capital. There is an enclave of cottage-type houses around Masbro Road, and spacious flats in large
Victorian houses in Sinclair Road and in Barons Court.
Best roads: the roads on and around Brook Green are most popular. Paul Cosgrove, of local Brook Green estate agents Finlay Brewer, says houses here sell for as much as £1,000 per square foot, compared to between £700 and £800 per square foot for the rest of West Kensington.
The area attracts: people move to West Kensington from Notting Hill and Kensington to get more space for their money, and their first choice will be Brook Green where there are good schools and excellent transport links.
French families come for Ecole Française de Londres Jacques Prévert, a French primary school, on Brook Green. The Brook Green Book Shop on Blythe Road even stocks French books. Renters, especially young sharers, like the large flats on Sinclair Road and Barons Court.
Staying power: with a high percentage of renters, West Kensington can be a transitory area, but families who settle around Brook Green or in the large mansion flats tend to stay and enjoy the quiet anonymity of the place.
Postcodes: W14 is the West Kensington and Olympia postcode, although part of much-wealthier Holland Park is also W14; Brook Green is in W6.
Up and coming: the Dorcas conservation area is a small enclave of mid-Victorian, three-storey, flat-fronted houses south of Hammersmith Road and west of North End Road. Houses on roads such as Vernon and Southcombe Streets rarely come on to the market but when they do, expect to pay around £750,000.
What’s new: there are currently no new developments on the market. The redevelopment of the Earls Court exhibition centre over the next 20 years will change the nature of the area, with more than 8,000 new homes expected. A masterplan is being prepared by Sir Terry Farrell. A recent rumour that Chelsea Football Club was thinking of building a 60,000-seat stadium on the site has been denied.
Schools: the best-performing state primary schools are Larmenier and Sacred Heart RC on Brook Green, and St Augustine’s RC on Disbrowe Road, both rated “outstanding” by the government watchdog Ofsted. Avonmore on Avonmore Road is rated “good with outstanding features”. Bute House in Luxemburg Gardens is a private girls’ prep school from ages four to 11 and Ecole Française de Londres Jacques Prévert, as previously highlighted, in Brook Green is a private French primary school.
There are two top-performing Catholic comprehensive schools: Sacred Heart High for girls in Hammersmith Road and Cardinal Vaughan in Addison Road. Two top private schools are a big attraction. St Paul’s Girls’ School in Brook Green is one of the country’s top girls’ schools, while Latymer is a popular mixed school with a prep school.
Shops and restaurants: there are many interesting independent shops and restaurants around Brook Green on Blythe Road and Shepherd’s Bush Road. Look out for Holloways of Ludlow for kitchen design and architectural ironmongery and lighting; the Fishmonger’s Kitchen, a fishmongers; Oliver Bonas for gifts and fashion, and Brook’s Café. all on Shepherd’s Bush Road. Then there’s Honeybunch for unusual gifts and interior accessories; the Brook Green Bookshop; Echo Interiors; the Betty Blythe tea shop, and Popeseye, for steak and chips, all on Blythe Road.
The Havelock on Masbro Road is a relaxed gastropub. Others include the Bird in Hand, also on Masbro Road, and The Jam Tree on Porten Road. Westfield at Shepherd’s Bush is central London’s largest shopping centre and there are also a number of high street shops in Hammersmith town centre.
* 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.
Out and about
Open spaces: West Kensington is short of open space, although Holland Park is not far and the Thames is a 10-minute walk away for Sunday strolls. There are small areas of green space at Brook Green and Normand Park on Lillie Road.
Leisure and the arts: The Queen’s Club in Palliser Road, Barons Court, is one of the country’s top racket clubs with 45 tennis courts, 12 of which are grass. New members must be proposed and seconded by an existing member and there is a waiting list. The club is famous for its pre-Wimbledon tournament.
Fulham Pools in Normand Park is the local public swimming pool. Virgin Active has a small 20-metre pool at its gym in Hammersmith Road. In Shepherd’s Bush there is the Bush Theatre, the Shepherd’s Bush Empire and Bush Hall for contemporary music, while Hammersmith has the Lyric Theatre and the Riverside Studios. There are two multiplex cinemas in Shepherd’s Bush: at Westfield and the W12 shopping centres.
Transport: West Kensington is well-connected to the Tube and rail networks. Barons Court is on the District and Piccadilly lines; West Kensington, Kensington Olympia and West Brompton are on the District line.
Nearby Shepherd’s Bush is on the Central line and Hammersmith is on the Hammersmith and City, Circle, District and Piccadilly lines. Shepherd’s Bush, Kensington Olympia and West Brompton stations are London Overground with trains to Clapham Junction (10 minutes). All stations are in Zone 2 and an annual railcard is £1,032.
Council: West Kennsington is in Conservative controlled Hammersmith and Fulham — Band D council tax for the 2010/11 year is £1,121.60.
Buying: West Kensington
One-bedroom flat: £315,000
Two-bedroom flat: £449,000
Three-bedroom flat: £659,000
Four-bedroom house: £923,000
Five-bedroom-plus house: £1.1 million
Renting in West Kensington
One-bedroom flat: £280 to £350 a week
Two-bedroom flat: £375 to £500 a week
Two-bedroom house: £500 to £650 a week
Three-bedroom house: £695 to £1,000 a week
One-bedroom flat: £300 to £395 a week
Two-bedroom flat: £425 to £600 a week
Two-bedroom house: £550 to £695 a week
Three-bedroom house: £700 to £1,250 a week
Source: Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward
Pictures: Barry Phillips