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Hammersmith

Hammersmith is a district in west London, England, located in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. It is bordered by Shepherds Bush to the north, Kensington to the east, Chiswick to the west, and Fulham to the south, with which it forms part of the north bank of the River Thames. It is linked by Hammersmith Bridge to Barnes in the southwest. The area is one of west London's key commercial and employment centres, and has for some decades been the main centre of London's Polish minority. It is a major transport hub for west London, with two London Underground stations and a bus station at Hammersmith Broadway.

 

History

In the early 1660s, Hammersmith's first parish church, which later became St Paul’s, was built by Sir Nicholas Crispe who ran the brickworks in Hammersmith. It contained a monument to Crispe as well as a bronze bust of King Charles I by Hubert Le Sueur. In 1696 Sir Samuel Morland was buried there. The church was completely rebuilt in 1883, but the monument and bust were transferred to the new church.

The Hammersmith Suspension Bridge, designed by William Tierney Clark, was built across the Thames in 1827, and rebuilt in 1893. In 1984–1985 the bridge received structural support, and between 1997 and 2000 the bridge underwent major strengthening work.

In 1745, two Scots, James Lee and Lewis Kennedy, established the Vineyard Nursery, over six acres devoted to landscaping plants. During the next hundred and fifty years the nursery introduced many new plants to England, including fuchsia and the standard rose tree.

Major industrial sites included the Osram lamp factory at Brook Green, the J. Lyons factory (which at one time employed 30,000 people) and the largest municipal power station in Britain, built near the gasworks in Sands End.

 

Economy

Hammersmith is located at the confluence of a key arterial route out of central London (the A4) with several local feeder roads and a bridge over the Thames. The focal point of the district is the commercial centre (the Broadway Centre) located at this confluence, which houses a shopping centre, bus station, an Underground station and an office complex.
 
King Street

Stretching about 750m westwards from this centre is King Street, Hammersmith's main shopping street which contains its second shopping centre (Kings Mall), many small shops, the Town Hall, the Lyric Theatre, a cinema and two hotels. King Street is supplemented by other shops along Shepherds Bush Road to the north, Fulham Palace Road to the south and Hammersmith Road to the east.

Hammersmith's office activity takes place mainly to the eastern side of its centre, along Hammersmith Road and in the Ark, an architecturally-unique office complex to the south of the flyover which traverses the area. The offices of International SOS, Bechtel, Disney, Pokémon, L'Oréal, AOL UK, Accor UK, Next Fifteen Communications, US Airways, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Frost Meadowcroft, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and Royal Jordanian Airlines are all found in Hammersmith. Two NHS hospitals provide jobs in Hammersmith - Charing Cross Hospital to the south of the centre on Fulham Palace Road and Hammersmith Hospital in the north. Charing Cross Hospital is a large multi-disciplinary hospital with an accident & emergency department and teaching department run by the Imperial College School of Medicine.

CE Europe, a subsidiary of Capcom, has its head office in the George House in Hammersmith. As of May 2011 it will be relocating to the Metro Building, an 11 storey, 106,000-square-foot (9,800 m2) building in Hammersmith.

For a fifteen-year period, Air France had its UK and Ireland office in Colet Court in Hammersmith. In 2006 the UK and Ireland office was moved to Hatton Cross, London Borough of Hounslow.

 

Architecture

Architecturally, Hammersmith is notable for

  • "The Ark" office building designed by British architect Ralph Erskine and was completed in April 1992 as the name suggests it has the appearance of a large ship
  • "Hammersmith Bridge Road Surgery" Doctor's office
  • "22 St Peter's Square" the former Royal Chiswick Laundry and Island Records HQ converted to architects studios and offices by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands. It has a Hammersmith Society Conservation award plaque (2009) and has been included in tours in Architecture Week.
  • Several of Hammersmith's pubs are listed buildings, including the Black LionThe DoveThe GeorgeThe Hop Poles, the Hope and Anchor, the Salutation Inn and The Swan.
  • Also listed are Hammersmith's two parish churches, St Paul (the town's original church, rebuilt in the 1890s) and St Peter, built in the 1820s.

Culture and Entertainment

  • Lyric Hammersmith Theatre
  • Hammersmith Apollo concert hall and theatre (formerly the Carling Hammersmith Apollo, Hammersmith Odeon, and before that the Gaumont Cinema).
  • Hammersmith Palais nightclub, which is now disused and set to be demolished.
  • POSK, the Polish cultural centre, is on King Street.
  • The Dove is a riverside pub with, reputedly, the smallest bar in the world, frequented by Ernest Hemingway and Graham Greene. The narrow alley in which it stands is the only remnant of the riverside village of Hammersmith, the bulk of which was demolished in the 1930s. Furnivall Gardens, which lies to the east, covers the site of Hammersmith Creek and the High Bridge. The site of the creek can be ascertained by a mound near the Great West Road.

American broadcasters NBC and ABC both have their London news bureau in Hammersmith. Ridesmiths provide the above places with Minicabs and Executive Taxis.

 

Leasure and Social Activities

In addition to the cinema and pubs of King Street, leisure activity also takes place along Hammersmith's pedestrianised riverside, home to a number of pubs, rowing clubs and the riverside park of Furnival Gardens. Hammersmith has a municipal park Ravenscourt Park to the west of the centre. Its facilities include tennis courts, a basketball court, a bowling lawn, a paddling pool and playgrounds. The whole area is covered by the same W6 postcode as Hammersmith town centre.

Hammersmith is the historical home of the West London Penguin Swimming and Water Polo Club, formerly known as the Hammersmith Penguin Swimming Club.

"Round Table London Hammersmith 48" is a community service and networking club for men aged 18 to 45. Regular meetings are held at the London Corinthian Sailing Club on the banks of the river Thames.

The "Polish Social and Cultural Centre" (known as POSK) is based in Hammersmith, with facilities including a library, a theatre, restaurants and cafes, and houses many other Polish organisations.

 

Transport

The area is on the main A4 trunk road heading west from central London towards the M4 motorway and Heathrow Airport. The A4, a busy commuter route, passes over the area's main road junction, Hammersmith Gyratory System, on a long viaduct, the Hammersmith Flyover. Hammersmith Bridge, the first suspension bridge over the River Thames, carries traffic to and from Barnes and southwest London.

The centre of Hammersmith is served by two London Underground stations named Hammersmith: one is served by the Hammersmith & City and Circle lines and the other is served by the Piccadilly and Districtlines. The latter tube station is part of a larger office, retail and transport development, locally known as "The Broadway Centre". Hammersmith Broadway, itself, stretches from the junction of Queen Caroline Street and King Street in the west to the junction of Hammersmith Road and Butterwick in the east. It forms the north side of the gyratory system also known as Hammersmith Roundabout. The Broadway Shopping Centre includes a large modern bus station, which is open 24 hours a day and served by a large number of buses, night buses, airport transfer buses and some long distance coaches.

The length of King Street places the westernmost shops and offices closest to Ravenscourt Park tube station on the District line, one stop west of Hammersmith itself.

Hammersmith used to have two public passenger transport depots: Hammersmith Trolleybus Depot (coded "HB") situated opposite Fulham Palace Road and a Motor Bus Garage, known as Riverside (coded "R") to stop confusion with "HB". Riverside was originally a mansion and after the bus operations ceased the fascia of the building was listed.

The public also use Ridesmiths for Minicabs and Executive Taxis, naturally.

 

In Literature

The composer Gustav Holst taught at St Paul's School

Hammersmith features in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations as the home of the Pocket family. Pip resides with the Pockets in their house by the river and goes boating on the river.

William Morris's utopian novel News from Nowhere (1890) describes a journey up the river from Hammersmith towards Oxford; it is of growing interest to contemporary ecological and socialist political movements.

In 1930, Gustav Holst composed Hammersmith, a work for military band (later rewritten for orchestra), reflecting his impressions of the area, having lived across the river in Barnes for nearly forty years. It begins with a haunting musical depiction of the River Thames flowing underneath Hammersmith Bridge. Holst taught music at St Paul's Girls' School and composed many of his most famous works there, including his The Planets suite. A music room in the school is named after him.

 

Hammersmith has a local paper Get West London that also covers the surrounding areas. Its dedicated page to hammersmith can be found here

 

Should you require a taxi or mini cab whilst in Hammersmith please contact the team at Ridesmiths