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Hammersmith - an area of contrasts

At just over a square mile, the postcode area of W6 is one of the smallest in London, yet within this relatively small area there are many different neighbourhoods containing a variety of property styles.

With the exception of a few properties built in the 1700s along the river on Upper Mall, notably the home of designer William Morris, the majority of Hammersmith was built in the Victorian period. From small workers' cottages in the streets of Brackenbury Village, through to family homes in the Crabtree Estate and right up to the grand semi-detached villas of Hammersmith Grove, there really is a Victorian house for everyone in Hammersmith. Those craving 19th century period detail on one level can take their pick from a number of mansion buildings with well-proportioned rooms and large windows. Fitness fans will appreciate the many stairs within Digby Mansions as the flats are stacked high in order to best profit from the Thames views.

Brackenbury Village, which with its lack of village green, post office, manor house or rural location is anything but a village, but its quaint pubs, delis and even an ironmonger and two art galleries do give it a certain cosy local feel which Brackenbury locals love. Three bedroom houses can fetch £1.5 million and in exchange for £800,000 you can be the proud owner of a two bedroom flat. It's therefore little surprise that the local mechanic is an Aston Martin specialist!

Hammersmith was the birthplace of the post-war council flat and the area has many examples of well-planned local authority owned housing which are still successful projects to this day. Aspen Gardens was opened in 1949 by Aneurin Bevan, the Minister of Health who, in addition to founding the NHS, realised that proper housing would contribute to the improved health of the nation.

Sandwiched between the River Thames and the roar of the A4 are a number of interesting properties, such as the Grade I listed Hammersmith Terrace, unique in the area for having gardens running down to the river, and Bazalgette Court, an Edwardian pumping station recently converted into luxury apartments with long-reaching Thames views.

Formerly the site of Victorian workhouses, Charing Cross Hospital was opened in 1973 after a five year, 15m building programme to relocate the hospital from central London. Now a major teaching hospital as part of Imperial College, London, the site is home to the largest and oldest gender identity clinic in the UK and also Maggie's Centre, an award-winning support hub for those affected by cancer.

Another notable hospital in Hammersmith is the Royal Masonic Hospital which treated over 8,600 servicemen during World War II, although now it is owned by a private hospital firm who plan to refurbish it. The building is Grade II* listed and, being built in 1933, has many Art Deco features including black and gold interiors, curved windows and balconies, and an exquisite wood-panelled boardroom. The nurses accommodation for the hospital, after a spell as an unwelcome backpackers' hostel, was recently converted into luxury apartments commanding luxury prices. The Westside Building, a 1970s modernist block overlooking Ravenscourt Park, was built for visiting surgeons to live in individual flats and is now in private ownership.

To make up for the rather disappointing shops of King Street, leisure opportunities are abundant in Hammersmith, with tennis and basketball courts, a paddling pool, three play areas, a walled garden, an ecology area, two cafes and even a garden centre all just in Ravenscourt Park! Just by the park is POSK, the Polish Social and Cultural Association, where you can see incredible art, films and performances of music, dance and theatre, or simply relax in the jazz cafe. Elsewhere there is the Hammersmith Apollo, riverside walks lined with gastropubs and the Lyric theatre. Incidentally, the Lyric was built in 1895 and was due to be demolished in the late 1960s. After a successful campaign, the theatre was dismantled piece by piece and rebuilt inside part of the concrete shopping complex of Kings Mall.

Riverside Studios, the discreetly located home of many a television panel show, is being rebuilt as part of a major housing and leisure complex by Hammersmith Bridge, a stone's throw from another large housing development called Fulham Reach, which is certainly more than a stone's throw from Fulham! With the construction of Sovereign Court by Hammersmith Broadway, there is a great influx of large superior quality apartments in an area historically dominated by older architecture. The esteemed architect Richard Rogers, whose studios Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners are located close to the Crabtree pub, was a modern pioneer of Hammersmith riverside living when he built Thames Reach, the largest penthouse of which became his home, right next to his studios. In fact, his wife opened the River Cafe there initially in order to serve lunch to the architects in the adjacent practice!

There are numerous independent senior schools in Hammersmith, between them offering more places than state schools in the postcode area. One of these state schools is the West London Free School, set up as one of the very first Free Schools by the journalist Toby Young. Competition for local state primary schools is particularly fierce. In 2014-15, John Betts Primary School, on the edge of Brackenbury Village, had a catchment area of just 180 metres radius from the school!

Transport links within Hammersmith are excellent, with the A4 going to central London, Heathrow and the West, as well as access across Brunel's Hammersmith Bridge down to Barnes, Kew and Richmond. Four different Underground lines serve Hammersmith from its two stations, although rather frustratingly we must brave the elements outside to cross between the two! Hammersmith Broadway, the main gyratory, links various roads and is home to the bus station, one of the Underground stations and a shopping centre, each on different floors. Above all of these are the UK headquarters of Coca-Cola and Disney, and in the vicinity are offices for L'Oreal, Iberia, Sony Ericsson and Virgin Media. Perhaps the most unusual office in Hammersmith is The Ark, a boat-shaped building overlooking the flyover, which is home to GE. St Peter's Square and Westcroft Square are the pride of Hammersmith, featuring beautifully landscaped central lawns and immaculate white painted terraces of large family homes. With much of Hammersmith's land devoted to small cottages and flats, it is in these garden squares and on the highly desirable roads near Hammersmith Grove that the few larger properties are located.

Last but not least, Hammersmith's range of pubs is sure to please the most discerning foodie or beer fan. Of the wide variety, two are of particular note: the Anglesea Arms is a favourite haunt of local radio and TV personalities and The Dove holds the Guinness World Record for the smallest bar room in the world!

To buy or rent in the Hammersmith area, or for a valuation of your property, call our Hammersmith office on 020 8741 2200 or visit us at 88-90 Fulham Palace Road.