diamond geezer

 Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Random borough (31): Hammersmith & Fulham (part 3)

Somewhere random: A walk along the Thames
For a glimpse of lower Hammersmith and Fulham I thought I'd walk along the entire southern border of the borough, marked by the north bank of the Thames. That's all the way from just past Chelsea to almost Chiswick, via the two neighbourhoods the borough is named after. It's less than three miles direct, but the meandering river (and a few obstructive landowners) meant I had to walk more than five. It's not the most exciting stretch of the Thames, to be honest, but it has its moments.
[six photos]

The eastern boundary of Hammersmith and Fulham is the lost river of Counter's Creek. The last few hundred yards are still visible as a tidal inlet, running between the old Lots Road power station and the luxury apartments of Chelsea Village [photo]. The Village is a concentrated enclave of wealthy souls packed into wharfside stacks, only a few of whom are fortunate enough to have a river view. The new Imperial Wharf development nextdoor isn't quite so exclusive, and the artificially turfed garden by the river is open to all in case an October heatwave should break out [photo]. But prospective homeowners should watch out for the racket caused by helicopters landing at Battersea across the water. And lovers of fine architecture should probably choose to live somewhere else. I scanned the entire waterfront here attempting to spot a building more than 30 years old and, bar a couple of church spires across the river, I failed. This is the Thames as real estate, devoid of soul.

The riverside continues uneventfully as far as Sainsbury's, then heads inland to avoid one remaining patch of wharfy warehouseness. Past Wandsworth Bridge and a tucked in Curry's, then a detour round a goods yard, and see what I mean about this not being the most exciting stretch of the Thames? Inland there are lovely terraced streets, but the river's edge was industrial land until relatively recently so never had the golden Edwardian touch. And then high society intrudes. The Hurlingham Club own a massive 42 acres beside the river, carefully walled off to prevent the hoi polloi from entering. Inside there's polo, croquet and tennis, plus a genuinely top class collection of facilities you won't find in the adjacent council park. For those of us without a membership card it's a long slog round the edge, eventually locating the main entrance where 4×4s and sportscars wait to be waved in by security.

Putney Bridge sees a brief return to busy-ness, before the path dips through a subway to emerge in Bishop's Park [photo]. This is where spectators watch the start of the Boat Race, and also where Patrick Troughton's vicar walks in The Omen before being impaled by the lightning conductor toppling from the top of his nearby church. All Saints' is also the only church where I've ever been a page boy, several years before the impaling, although I'm glad camcorders hadn't been invented at the time because I fear I was a rather precocious three year-old. Next up, Fulham Palace (been there, blogged that). Next up, Craven Cottage (ditto). And then a low-rise residential promenade, good for strolling, facing out towards the much greener London Wetland Centre and the Harrods Furniture repository. Halfway up is the ever-bustling Crabtree Tavern, where the public school alumnus count is high, then the Riverside Studios, which are famously arty. But the most interesting bit's past Hammersmith Bridge, where old pubs intermix with gardens and elegant townhouses. One in particular...
Somewhere pretty: Kelmscott House [photo]
William Morris, the esteemed designer, was born in Random Borough 21, bought his first house in Random Borough 29, and opened a wallpaper press in Random Borough 1. So it's only right that I've finally ended up at his last home, in Random Borough 31. William moved here in 1878 from another Thameside property, far upstream in Gloucestershire, downsizing from Kelmscott Manor to Kelmscott House. This was already a house with an impressive history - the world's first electric telegraph had been built in the garden sixty years earlier. Morris added tapestry to his many talents while he was here, and weaving, and dabbled in social democratic politics, until 1896 when he dabbled no more. His house is now in public ownership, apart from the basement and the former coachhouse which have become a (sort of) museum. They're owned by the William Morris Society, who keep a collection of artefacts (and run their offices) from within. Access is on Thursday and Saturday afternoons only, so I timed my visit carefully and slipped in. I'd just missed a lecture on Sanderson, the design company who bought up Morris's business, so there were plenty of serious WM devotees still lingering around, chatting in the lower library or washing up in the rear kitchen. There wasn't much to see, but I think I now finally understand some of the huge complexity of triple-application wood-carved stamp-template production. And William's wallpapers are gorgeous, as I fear I've told you several times by now.
by tube: Ravenscourt Park   by bus: 27, 190, 267, 391, H91
A last half mile of Hammersmith (and Fulham) finished off my Thames-side walk. The highlight was a flotilla of blue-sailed yachts riding the rising tide at the London Corinthian Sailing Club [photo], watched by a sun-baked crowd downing pints sitting on the river wall. The lowlight was succumbing to the lure of an ice cream van on Upper Mall, only to be told that my freshly-dripping 99 cost £2.50. And the missed opportunity was 7 Hammersmith Terrace, with one of the last preserved Arts and Crafts interiors in the country, which closed for the winter season last week and won't reopen until April. Forgive me if I return some day and wax lyrical about the wallpaper.
by train/tube: Imperial Wharf / Putney Bridge / Stamford Brook

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream