Bordered by the River Thames to the South, Hammersmith was originally a London Borough in its own right until it was merged with Fulham to create the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. But, anywhere north of the Lillie Road/Fulham Road still has that Hammersmith vibe. It’s a lively residential neighbourhood where at least some of the housing is still affordable.
by Fiona Maclean;
Fiona Maclean is a London based freelance writer and marketing consultant. She’s lived in London for most of her adult life though she travels extensively.;
What to see and do in Hammersmith?
1. Hammersmith Broadway leads everywhere
In the middle of a big roundabout, the shopping centre and underground station is a popular place to meet for coffee or just hang out.
It’s an intersection of four tube lines – the Piccadilly, District, Circle and Metropolitan so an easy starting point wherever you want to go.
2. Olympia London for the greatest show on Earth (or at least in London)
Olympia was opened in 1886 and, with the closure of Earls Court Exhibition Centre, is now the largest central London site and home to the world’s longest running exhibition, the Ideal Home show.
You’ll find plenty of events there, from Hyper Japan to The Great British Beer Festival.
The first ever Ideal Home Show was held here in 1908. But the show moved to nearby Earls Court in 1978.
It returned to its ‘birthplace’ in 2015 after Earls Court was closed for redevelopment as residential housing.
3. Pick up a racket or enjoy watching a Wimbledon Warm-up at Queens
Queens Tennis Club is best known for holding the Men’s warm-up for Wimbledon in June each year. It’s relatively easy to get tickets, though at a price, and you’ll enjoy a close-up view of the same stars who appear a little further out of town a week or so later.
Houses around the edge of Queens Tennis Club enjoy a premium view of the courts – and as a result, are sold for a premium price.
4. Enjoy the fringe at Curtains Up
Around the back of the Curtains Up pub, you’ll find a London fringe theatre, complete with cinema style seating. Definitely worth a visit for quirky productions at a budget price
5. Get a glimpse of an Underground station as it used to be at Barons Court
Barons Court tube station was designed by Harry Ford and opened in 1905.
It has many original features including terracotta facing, wooden benches on the platform with the station name on the back in enamelled metal and Art Nouveau lettering on the approach.
Grade II listed, it looks very much as it would have done when it first open.
6. Explore the secret walled garden at Ravenscourt Park
If the hustle and bustle of London are getting too much for you, escape to Ravenscourt Park, where you’ll find two cafés, a walled garden and a pretty tree-lined pond.
7. Shop till you Drop at Westfield
Westfield is Europe’s largest shopping centre with more than 300 shops and 60 restaurants. You’ll find everything from high street brands to luxury products.
There’s plenty of parking – but it’s right by Shepherd’s Bush tube too, so once you’ve exhausted your credit card you won’t need to walk far.
8. Hang out at Hammersmith Bridge
One of London’s prettiest bridges, Hammersmith is Grade II* Listed. It was built to replace a previous bridge which had become too weak for the volume of traffic and opened on11 June 1887.
Around halfway between the start and finish of the famous Oxford and Cambridge boat race, it’s a popular viewing point for the race.
In 1996 the IRA planted two bombs underneath the bridge in an attempt to blow it up. The detonators caused two small explosions but the bombs themselves failed.
Interesting fact the Bridge was designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, who was responsible for designing much of central London’s sewage system!
9. Watch the Box at White City
The site of the 1908 Olympic Games, White City is perhaps best known for Television Centre, the old home of the BBC.
Now redeveloped into luxury housing, offices and restaurants, the original Grade II listed buildings have been retained.
10. Take yourself to another Planet at Brook Green
A pretty, grassed park with tennis courts, surrounded by houses and the stunning buildings of St Paul’s Girls School, designed by architect Gerald Horsley in 1904 when the school was founded.
One of the country’s leading Girls Public Schools, St Pauls has produced many notable ‘Old Paulinas’ including Jennifer Saunders, Alexandra Shulman and Thomasina Meirs.
Gustav Holst was the director of music from 1905 to 1934 and composed two works especially for the school (St Paul’s and Brook Green Suites). He also wrote what is probably his best-known work, The Planets while teaching at the school.
11. Get the vibes at the Hammersmith Apollo
Until fairly recently Hammersmith had several entertainments venues.
But with the closure and demolition of the Palais, the area is now served by the Hammersmith Apollo, a Grade II* listed Art Deco building designed by Richard Cromie and opened in 1932.
12. Imagine a creative spark at St Pauls Studios
Driving out of London along the A4 you can’t fail to spot a row of unusual houses with massive arched windows.
St Paul’s Studios were built in 1891 and were designed by Frederick Wheeler for a fine art publisher, James Fairless, as studios and homes for ‘Batchelor Artists’.
13. Wander along the Mall, West London Style
The northern river banks from Hammersmith to Chiswick are a series of malls lined with historic houses. Many of the houses have their own history, 22 and 24 Upper Mall, for example, were part of the Queen Dowager’s original house for her servants.
Built in the late 18th and early 19th Century, these privately-owned houses are interspersed by three historic pubs, each with their own tales to tell, the Dove, the Old Ship and the Anchor.
The Dove has the smallest bar room in the world and it is said that Charles II and Nell Gwynne once dined here.
14. Rock out at that Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Another great venue in Hammersmith, the Empire is a music venue originally built as a music hall.
It was the BBC Television theatre from 1953 to 1994, since then it returned to its roots and now holds a host of live rock and pop music events.
It’s a Grade II listed building, but that doesn’t seem to hold back the sounds!
15. Cooler than Camden at Shepherd’s Bush Market
One of London’s most vibrant, multicultural markets, this street market has run for over 100 years.
You’ll find all kinds of food here, from fresh produce to food vans serving rather famous falafel. And there’s clothing, crafts and fabrics too.
Old Laundry Yard offers a home to start-ups and small businesses and there’s a community space for live events.
This is very much a local market which so far has avoided the tourist hype of Camden or Portobello Road.