The west London neighbourhood of Hammersmith is famous for its beautiful riverside setting, its choice of top private schools and excellent transport links.
It is also a major employment hub with thousands of workers making their way each day to jobs with top companies such as L’Oréal, Disney, Dunnhumby and GE Capital.
Over the last 50 years, properties in this once-solidly working-class neighbourhood have become some of the most desirable in London. Homes in Hammersmith & Fulham now average £757,131 — topped only by Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster and Camden.
The huge pull of Westfield London shopping centre in nearby Shepherd’s Bush, combined with the traffic thundering over the flyover and around the huge central gyratory system, have left Hammersmith with a lacklustre town centre.
The local council is tackling the problem with ideas that could include replacing the flyover with a “flyunder” tunnel, and doing away completely with the gyratory.
Architects Grimshaw are working with local residents and businesses on ways to improve the look of the town centre, with the council due to report next month.
Meanwhile, plans are afoot to regenerate the western end of King Street with a scheme designed to deliver new offices for the local council, a three-screen Curzon cinema, 200 new homes, shops, restaurants and bars. Years in the planning, the project is a joint venture between developers Helical and Grainger.
Designed by top Hammersmith architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, it initially ran into opposition from locals over the proposed height of the buildings, while locally based actors Colin Firth, Joely Richardson and Ralph Fiennes opposed the loss of the Art Deco Cineworld cinema, which closed in April.
The developers now say detailed design work is under way and building will start next year.
Estate agent Elliot Rowe from the local branch of Douglas & Gordon says that stepping away from the busy main roads reveals pretty residential enclaves with a village-like feel. “The area known as Brackenbury Village is particularly popular.
There are Victorian cottages and some larger houses and independent shops. It makes for a genuinely friendly neighbourhood. This, combined with the river and the excellent transport links, account for Hammersmith’s enduring success.”
When BBC Television Centre was based in nearby White City, Hammersmith became something of a media village.
However, Rowe says Hammersmith has survived Television Centre’s conversion to include homes and offices, and while many top media stars have moved on, their place has been taken by workers, mainly from the City.
Hammersmith is seven miles west of central London with Shepherd’s Bush to the north, West Kensington and Barons Court to the east, Barnes across the Thames to the south and Chiswick to the west.
Queen’s Wharf overlooks the river in Crisp Road and is a joint venture between developer Mount Anvil and Fabrica, an offshoot of housing association A2 Dominion. The 165-flat development provides a new riverside walkway and a new home for the Riverside Studios, which will have a theatre, a cinema, restaurant and bar.
Prices range from £1.15 million for a two-bedroom flat to £7.25 million for a three-bedroom penthouse. The middle of next year will see the first residents move in, with the development set to complete at the end of the year. Call 020 3740 1216.
St George has two developments in Hammersmith — Sovereign Court in Glenthorne Road in the town centre, and Fulham Reach, which is on the river off Fulham Palace Road. Prices of two- and three-bedroom Sovereign Court flats range from £1.9 million to £2.29 million. Call 020 3773 5974.
The one-, two- and three-bedroom flats at Fulham Reach range in price from £1.85 million to £5 million. Call 020 7870 9500 for more information. Brackenbury Square is a Notting Hill Housing association development in Hammersmith Grove, with prices starting at £530,000 for a one-bedroom flat and £665,000 for a two-bedroom flat. Call 020 3813 7248.
Ravenscourt Park is on the District line and Goldhawk Road is on the Hammersmith & City and Circle lines. All stations are in Zone 2 and an annual travelcard costs £1,296.
Brackenbury Grove in Vinery Way is a One Housing Group development of two-bedroom mews houses, three-bedroom townhouses and one-, two- and three-bedroom flats built around a residents’ courtyard. Flats start at £500,000; two-bedroom mews houses at £950,000 and three-bedroom townhouses at £1.25 million (brackenburygrove.co.uk; 0344 8092016).
Bentley Place is a Bellway development of one-, two- and three-bedroom flats in Bute Gardens and Wolverton Gardens in Brook Green. Prices range from £799,995 to £1.2 million. Call 0333 202 5173 for more.
Kings Row in King Street is a Linden Homes development of one-, two- and three-bedroom flats and villas. Prices of the two- and three-bedroom flats start at £799,950. Call 01833 787 194.
Merchant Terrace in Beavor Lane is a Fruition Properties development of eight four-bedroom white stucco houses. Prices start at £2 million. Through Barnard Marcus (020 8748 4256) and Douglas & Gordon (020 8563 7100).
Glenbrook is a Loncor Homes development of 52 one-, two- and three-bedroom flats in Glenthorne Road, with prices from £651,000. Through Fraser & Co (020 8747 0661).
Charlotte Oborne, rentals manager at agents Douglas & Gordon, says she lets to plenty of single professionals and families working for Hammersmith’s big employers. “Many are looking for longer two- and three-year lets, which is good for our landlords.”
Families are often upsizing from a flat in a more expensive area such as Notting Hill to a house in Hammersmith, and have made the move for the medium to long term.
W6 is the Hammersmith postcode.
Some of the houses in Ravenscourt Road back on to the park; Wingate Road has houses painted in pretty pastel colours; St Peter’s Square has large classically designed stucco semi-detached houses; Westcroft Square is a garden square, and Ashchurch Park Villas has pretty semi-detached villas. Anywhere in Brackenbury Village is extremely sought after, with prices continuing to reach new highs.
Up and coming
The W12 Shepherd’s Bush postcode is generally cheaper.
By car, Hammersmith offers easy access to Heathrow via the M4. It is also close to the M3 and the M25.
Hammersmith & Fulham council is Labour controlled. Band D council tax for 2016/2017 is £1,003.81.
By Underground, Hammersmith is on the District line (the Ealing Broadway and Richmond branches), the Piccadilly line and the Hammersmith & City and Circle lines.
Shops and restaurants
Broadway Shopping Centre in the middle of the Hammersmith gyratory has branches of high street and restaurant chains including Boots, Body Shop, Tesco Metro, Oliver Bonas, Superdry, Starbucks, Pret A Manger, Leon and Subway.
Interesting newcomers are Café de Nata which specialises in pasteis de Nata, the famous Portuguese custard tarts, and Hema, the Dutch chain with seven branches in the UK, often referred to as the “posh Dutch Poundland”.
The main shopping street is King Street where there are branches of M&S, Primark and TK Maxx. Kings Mall shopping centre has branches of Clarks, WH Smith, Wilko, Sainsbury’s, Tiger and River Island. In Hammersmith Grove overlooking Lyric Square in front of the Lyric Theatre are branches of Byron burger restaurant and also Bill’s, the popular all-day restaurant, close to Blanche Eatery, La Petite Bretagne crêperie, and independent coffee shop Amoret in Beadon Road.
Along Shepherd’s Bush Road are branches of Wagamama; a large Tesco; posh chippie, Kerbisher & Malt; a fishmonger, The Fishmongers Kitchen; lighting and interior designers Holloways of Ludlow; an independent café Brook’s Counter and Table, and Mustard all-day brasserie.
There is a cluster of shops, cafés and restaurants in and around Brackenbury Road in Brackenbury Village. The Brackenbury describes itself as a modern European restaurant, while Brackenburys Deli and Café serves everything from English breakfasts to flatbreads and vegan dishes. Stenton Family Butchers is the local organic and free-range butcher. The Wine Room in Hammersmith Grove is a wine bar, restaurant and shop. W6 in Ravenscourt Avenue is a well-stocked and well-arranged garden centre.
The Anglesea Arms in Wingate Street is one of the original gastropubs and is still going strong. Other gastropubs include The Hampshire Hog in King Street and The Oak in Goldhawk Road. The Dove is a picturesque riverside pub.
There are two weekly markets in Lyric Square; a farmers’ market on Thursdays and a world foods market on Fridays.
There are lovely riverside walks along the Thames Path. Ravenscourt Park is a local flagship park in the grounds of a house, long demolished, landscaped by Humphry Repton. There’s a children’s beach and paddling pool in summer, a flower garden, tennis courts and a tea room.
Leisure and the arts
The Lyric Theatre has a lovely Victorian auditorium encased in a modern building. This year the famous pantomime is Aladdin and in the studio in the run-up to Christmas there is Raymond Briggs’s Father Christmas.
The theatre puts on many classes and activities for local children. The Art Deco Hammersmith Apollo is a leading music venue. The Riverside Studios are being rebuilt as part of the Queen’s Wharf development.
The Hammersmith Business Improvement District funds a busy events programme that includes Wimbledon tennis live on the big screen, live opera, outdoor theatrical performances and a number of festive events, which this year will include an interactive virtual reality experience in Lyric Square and a free Christmas cinema in Kings Mall shopping centre.
Hammersmith has a good choice of state primary schools rated “outstanding” by the Ofsted education watchdog. They are: the very popular Brackenbury in Dalling Road; West London Free Primary in Cambridge Grove; St Paul’s CofE in Worlidge Street; Larmenier & Sacred Heart RC in Brook Green; John Betts in Paddenswick Road and Melcombe in Fulham Palace Road. The Earl’s Court Free Primary School opened two years ago. It shares a site in Cambridge Grove with the West London Free Primary but will move to Earl’s Court in 2020.
State comprehensive schools rated “outstanding” are: Sacred Heart RC (girls, ages 11 to 16) in Hammersmith Road, where Tony and Cherie Blair’s daughter, Kathryn, was a pupil; Fulham Cross Girls’ (ages 11 to 16) in Munster Road and Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School (RC, boys, ages 11 to 18) in Addison Road, Holland Park. All rated “good” are the West London Free School (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in King Street, the first of the new breed of free schools, this one started by journalist Toby Young; Hammersmith Academy (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Cathnor Road, and William Morris Sixth Form (co-ed, ages 16 to 18) in St Dunstan’s Road.
Hammersmith’s top private schools are a big draw for families. St Paul’s Girls’ School (ages 10 to 18) is in Brook Green; Godolphin & Latymer School (girls, ages 11 to 18) is in Iffley Road, and Latymer Upper (co-ed, ages seven to 18) is in King Street. St Paul’s (boys, ages seven to 18) and The Harrodian (co-ed, ages four to 18) are both in Lonsdale Road over the river in Barnes.
The other private secondary schools are: The Independent School (co-ed, ages 11 to 16), recently opened in Beavor Lane, and St James Senior Girls’ School (ages 11 to 18) in Earsby Street, Olympia.
Private nursery, primary and preparatory schools include: Bute House (girls, ages four to 11) in Luxemburg Gardens; Le Herisson School (co-ed, ages two to six) a French nursery school in Rivercourt Road; Ecole Française de Londres Jacques Prévert (co-ed, ages three to 11) a French/English bilingual school in Brook Green; Ravenscourt Preparatory (co-ed, ages four to 11) in Ravenscourt Avenue; and St James Junior School (co-ed, ages four to 11) in Earsby Street, Olympia.