Enjoy a Life by the River in Hammersmith
The cult stand-up comedy series ‘Live at the Apollo’ has put Hammersmith on the map. This West London suburb has long been a popular place to live and work in but its most famous venue has helped to bring it up in the world. With excellent transport connections, great shops and buzzing nightlife and access to the River Thames, buying a property in this part of London is a great investment.
Five miles from Central London, on the north bank of the Thames in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, this is a well-positioned district with easy access to the M4 motorway to the west, the North Circular and the M40 towards Oxford. Access across the river is also straightforward, with Hammersmith Bridge crossing to Barnes on the South Bank. Access to most of London is easy, meaning nights out in the West End, a meal in Chiswick or a visit to one of the museums in Kensington can happen at any time or day of the week.
The major transport hub is based on Hammersmith Broadway, where the buses terminate at the modern 24-hour bus station. Here buses run 24 hours a day, including the night buses, airport transport services and long-distance coach routes to other parts of the UK. Connections with Hammersmith’s two tube stations are good. One serves the Circle and the Hammersmith and City Lines, the other is a boarding point for passengers on the Piccadilly and District Lines. Reaching other parts of London and the rest of the UK from Hammersmith is straightforward. The main A4 flyover which leads to the M4 and Reading passes over the main road junction. Access to the M25 is also convenient.
As with many London suburbs, its origins date back centuries. The earliest known settlers are believed to have been Neolithic tribes who set up camp next to the river. Archaeological excavations revealed Bronze Age remains and evidence of later Roman settlements. The name Hammersmith appears to date from the Middle Ages, with the first mentions of it as the hamlet of ‘Hamersmyth’ in 1294. Explanations for the name include the old English words for village or ‘ham’ by the harbour ‘hythe’.
Hammersmith grew steadily because of its position on the main road from London to the West of England. One of Hammersmith’s most famous residents was Sir Nicholas Crispe, who was an ardent Royalist during the English Civil War. His home was Brandenburgh House in Fulham Palace Road. It was demolished in the 19th century, though there is another newer Brandenburgh House which has been converted into flats. Crispe did much to help Hammersmith, including providing money and bricks from Hammersmith brickworks, which he owned, to build the village’s first ever church. He is remembered today by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, which carries a horseshoe on its coat of arms that was a symbol in his family heraldry.
Until 1834 Hammersmith was part of Fulham, but church leaders decided to create Hammersmith as a parish in its own right. To mark the new boundary, a ditch was dug, which was a usual practice at that time.
The growth of Hammersmith was helped by the building of the first Hammersmith Suspension Bridge in 1827 and a replacement structure in 1893. By the early 20th century, several prominent manufacturing companies set up shop in the area, including Osram Lamps and J. Lyons, which employed up to 30,000 people. Hammersmith was also home to a huge power station, gas works and petrol depot at its most southerly point, Sands End. This became the industrial heart of the district, providing work for generations of families. In the 1970s Sands End underwent a property boom as those families enjoyed the fruits of their labours. The effect of that gentrification still lasts today. The offices, shops, flats and houses built on the riverside are much sought after, with some flats going for as much as £2.4 million. The site has also evolved into a thriving retail park and enterprise centre. The site of the gasworks, Imperial Wharf, which has now closed, is being developed into a new community of affordable housing, new shops, eating places, a park and a brand new railway station.
Today Hammersmith’s success as a business centre continues, with a number of multi-national companies having their UK head offices in the district. They include Coca-Cola, Song Ericsson, AOL UK, CE Europe, L’Oreal and US Airways. The US broadcasting companies, ABC and NBC, have their London offices in the district.
It’s not just international big business that’s thriving in Hammersmith. Two hospitals, Charing Cross and Hammersmith, also bring in workers to the area and provide vital healthcare facilities for local people. The district has a long tradition of renting and letting and there remains today a large community of property management companies serving Hammersmith and the surrounding areas. Finding homes to rent in Hammersmith is arguably easier than it is anywhere else.
The average price for homes to rent in Hammersmith is just under £2000 per calendar month. Prices start around £325 per week for a studio flat and £375 for a one-bed flat, rising to £500 per week depending on the location and style of the property. There are many flats in converted houses and purpose-built blocks along and close to both Hammersmith Road and Fulham Palace Road. Hammersmith has some lovely leafy streets, such as Melrose Gardens, with three- or four-storey Edwardian terraces. There are several ex-local authority options when looking for homes to rent in Hammersmith. For around £280 per week a spacious two-bed apartment can be rented close to Hammersmith tube station.
The choice of larger homes to rent in Hammersmith is also good. For example, a three-bed property to rent in Latymer Court on Hammersmith Road could cost £500 per week. Latymer Court is an art deco building which was finished in 1934 and was at the time the largest block of luxury flats in Europe. It had all the mod cons of the day. Today the block has been refurbished and is a sought-after location. The flats are spacious, light and airy. A three-bed property sells for around £780,000.
The average price paid for homes for sale in Hammersmith is £814,000, though the average asking price is more than £1 million. The market is buoyant and buying property in Hammersmith is a good investment, especially as values have risen on average more than £100,000 in 2013. A one-bed flat in a block such as Gooch House on Glenthorne Road in Central Hammersmith could cost around £425,000. A two-bed maisonette close to the popular Ravenscourt Park would market for around £525,000. New-build homes for sale in Hammersmith include the stunning Sovereign Court, which is seeing standard two-bed properties selling off-plan for £800,000, rising to £1.6 million for a breathtaking penthouse with views across the Thames.
Another exciting new-build development is Distillery Wharf, a former industrial site turned into a pleasant riverside location. A two-bed apartment in a modern block with river views plus a private pool and health club would sell for around £1.5 million.
Family homes for sale in Hammersmith start about £775,000 for a terraced house. Cambridge Grove and Hammersmith Grove have a selection of character homes that will usually sell for under £1 million. Larger budgets can significantly increase the size of the property. Homes for sale in Hammersmith close to Ravenscourt Park and the popular John Betts Primary school will cost at least £1 million pounds. A four-bed terrace on a street close to the River Thames such as Rainville Road will cost around £1.1 million. A five-bed Victorian town house close the park would cost in the region of £2.2 million. Parfrey Street and Lamington Street offer a great selection of character homes, as does the charming Dalling Road in Brackenbury Village. These streets often offer wonderful homes to rent in Hammersmith as well.
Sitting on the banks of the Thames, Hammersmith offers some wonderful residences both old and new. Fulham Reach and Thames Reach were designed by Richard Rogers, who designed the Lloyds Building. They are new-build flat developments on the waterfront.
Hammersmith is a busy commercial and retail centre. The main shopping street is Kings Street, though there are plenty of other retail outlets on Hammersmith Road and Fulham Palace Road. There are two shopping malls, the Broadway Centre next to the transport interchange and the Kings Mall on Kings Street. Nearby are the town hall and the famous Lyric Theatre, built in 1895, which has a reputation for staging ground-breaking productions. The other interesting arts venue in Hammersmith is the Riverside Studios, formerly the domain of the BBC. A TV studio is still in place there as is a theatre, art-house cinema and exhibition space. Hammersmith has a long association with the arts.
Kings Street is also home to many pubs and restaurants and a cinema. Many of the offices are located here, so it’s a thriving and lively part of town. One of Hammersmith’s most famous buildings is an office block, the Ark, which takes its name from its boat-like shape.
Away from the buzzing urban centre, Hammersmith offers some delightful walks and interesting places to visit. The Dove pub on the riverside is said to be the oldest surviving riverside hostelry in London, frequented in days past by the likes of Graham Greene and Ernest Hemingway. The pub is located in a narrow alley which is the only remaining evidence of the old Hammersmith, when it was riverside village. Furnival Gardens is a popular park on the riverside and can be busy on summer evenings when revellers flock to not just the Dove but also the Blue Anchor, another charming riverside pub. From here rowers can be seen practising their sport on the water. On the day of the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race, Furnival Gardens is packed with spectators. Furnival Gardens came into being when the historic Hammersmith Creek, a redundant fishing harbour, was filled in. Today houseboats line the water’s edge rather than the fishing fleet.
The other popular open space is Ravenscourt Park, which can be found west of the town centre. Tennis courts, a basketball court, a bowling green, playgrounds and a paddling pool are available here.
Many families will be looking for homes for sale in Hammersmith because of its good schools, proximity to the river and the large number of professional jobs on the doorstep. The Ark Foundation operates a number of primary schools and one secondary school, the Danes Academy. This educational charity runs many academy-style schools, some starting from new and others being taken over from the local authority. The Ark primary schools include Conway, Swift and Bentworth Academies. Brackenbury and John Betts Primaries offer education for the under 11s courtesy of the local London Borough. At secondary level the Hammersmith Academy is a brand new school for 11-18 year olds. It specialises in IT and creative and digital media.
Independent school options include Ravenscourt Prep School for the under 11s and the Godolphin and Latymer School, which is a well-respected secondary school for girls. The children of several prominent politicians have attended this school.
The atmosphere of Hammersmith means it’s always been a popular destination for famous people, and a host of stars have either grown up or moved here. They include pop stars Lilly Allen and Gary Numan, actors Sacha Baron Cohen, Alan Rickman and Daniel Radcliffe. In the past the composer Gustav Holst and artist and social activist William Morris lived here.
This is an area of London with plenty of interesting things to do and places to go. It’s sufficiently far out of the centre to bring property prices to a manageable level and it’s convenient for both Central London and other parts of the UK. With the River Thames on the doorstep, great shopping and some fantastic nightlife, there may not be much need to leave Hammersmith very often.