Fulham Overview

Above: View of Fulham across the Thames from Putney. Part of Putney Bridge is to the left and All Saints, Fulham, is the parish church.

In spite of the labels on the Google map that show the name ‘Fulham’ at the centre of the Metropolitan Borough, the old village of Fulham was near the Thames and one or two old buildings remain today to prove it. The village of Fulham developed to the SE of Fulham Palace. Fulham was originally the only village within the ancient parish although there are other small hamlets that developed and they are indicated by a small YELLOW dot on the map below. It will be seen that there are three of these – Walham Green, Parson’s Green and Sands End.

A look at the area in further detail will reveal an area called Earl’s Court. This is not in Fulham but in Kensington. It takes its name from the Earls of Oxford – Lords of the Manor of Kensington. A place name which is in Fulham is Baron’s Court which is the name of a late 19th century development. to the west of North End Road. It was given the name by its owner – Sir William Palliser – alluding to the ‘Court Baron’ held by the Lord of the Manor.

The original Parish of Fulham originally covered all land of Fulham and Hammersmith. Hammersmith did not become a separate parish until as late as 1834. There is no known reason why the village of Fulham was formed – other than to comment that it probably developed due to the community that was employed to work on the land at Fulham Palace. That, therefore, begs the question as to why Fulham Palace was built beside the Thames, to which there is no particular answer either.

The original parish church is All Saints, know to be in existence in 1242. The present building dates from the 1880s. From this ‘mother’ parish several other parishes have been formed, particularly in Victorian times. All Saints stands very close to the north bank of the Thames. Unusually, at this point on the Thames, there was a parish church at either side – All Saints, in Fulham, and St Mary the Virgin, in Putney. This state of affairs remained for several centuries until, in 1729, the first Putney Bridge was erected and the two churches were seen to be at either end of a bridge crossing.

The other question that needs to be asked is ‘How did the name of Fulham come about?’. The earliest mention was as ‘Fulanham’ in AD 704-05. The derivation of the name is not known but one theory is that the name means ‘Fulla’s ham’ or ‘Fulla’s farm’ (‘ham’ meaning a ‘farm’ or ‘homestead’). A second theory, on similar lines, is that ‘hamm’ means ‘pasture or low-lying ground’ which could be taken to mean ‘Fulla’s low-lying ground or pasture’ (within the bend in the river). A third theory is that the name arose as ‘fowl-ham’ because of the large number of wild fowl that would have been seen on the marshy land beside the Thames. No definitive theory has ever been put forward.

The principal building in Fulham is the large moated property, called Fulham Palace, which was the residence of the Bishops of London from AD 704 until recent times. As can be seen from the map, Fulham has a long riverfront and several grand houses were built on the land beside the Thames – in order to take advantage of the pleasant views in a rural setting. Only Hurlingham House remains from those days, now converted into a club-house.

Above: Google map showing the Metropolitan Borough of Fulham. The YELLOW line shows the pre-1965 boundary between the two Metropolitan Boroughs – Fulham (to the south) and Hammersmith (to the north).

All of Fulham was once flat, marshy land. Over the centuries it was used mainly for farmland and, by the 17th century, was in use as large market gardens – supplying fruit and vegetables to the markets of London.

Gradually the land was used for housing and, by Victorian times, there were endless roads lined typically with terraced houses. It was very much a working-class area. With the decline of factories in Inner London and with the high demand by wealthy office-workers, seemingly ridiculous prices are paid for those small houses today. As Chelsea and Kensington became saturated with rich householders, the focus of attention by estate agents has been on Fulham and Hammersmith. Now that these areas are becoming full of 30-somethings, all with good jobs and often double-incomes, the demand is now spreading over Battersea and Wandsworth Bridges to ’take over’ the once working-class streets of Battersea, Wandsworth and Putney.

Until the 1970s and 1980s, there was plenty of light industry in Fulham, particularly on large wharves beside the Thames. The factories have, in the main, all closed and their sites have become up-market gated communities for the rich.

Within the area of the old Metropolitan Borough of Fulham is Queen’s Club – famous for tennis. To the south, in extensive grounds beside the Thames, is the Hurlingham Club – probably most famous for the game of polo. In addition, there is provision for golf, croquet, lawn tennis, cricket, bowls, squash and even skittles.


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Elizabeth Line Trains

Above: The new train, standing at Platform 15 of Liverpool Street Station, bound for Shenfield.

There is a rail service from Liverpool Street Station to Shenfield – which is being run by TFL with trains every 10 minutes. The trains leave from the high-number platforms at Liverpool Street Station. Until 2017 the trains were made up from carriages that have run on the line for years. Since 22 June 2017 one train each day, leaving about 10.30 am, is now a shiny new Crossrail train. It is made up of seven carriages and is 160 metres long. The eventual Elizabeth Line trains will have nine carriages and be 200 metres long. Unlike most railway carriages, which have two doors on each side. these new carriages have three doors each side.

By autumn 2017 it is expected that 11 new trains that will serve the Elizabeth Line will be rolled out on the route. The total fleet of trains – when the whole project is up and running – will be 66. The trains will travel through 42 km of tunnels under London and are expected to carry 200 million passengers each year.

Above: The new train at an existing platform at Stratford Station.

The £14.8bn Crossrail project, which began in 2009, does not officially open until December 2018 and building work is still being carried out. Most of that vast sum of money has been spent on tunnelling, building the new stations in those tunnels and creating new railway tracks which will link up with Reading and Heathrow Airport stations, in the west, and with Shenfield and Abbey Wood stations, in the east.

Although the new Elizabeth Line trains are running from Liverpool Street Station, via Stratford, on the old line to Shenfield, that is only a temporary measure. When everything for the new line under Central London is completed, trains will run via the new Elizabeth Line station at Liverpool Street, which happens to be the deepest of all the newly-built stations (which, in Central London, are Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street and Whitechapel).

The rail route from the new Elizabeth Line station at Liverpool Street will run underground to the new Whitechapel Station (also deep underground). East of that station is a fork in the new railway lines. Trains bound for Shenfield will continue underground for another mile or so before emerging into the daylight to stop at one of the platforms of Stratford Station. Trains will continue their journey to Shenfield, via Romford, using the original track and stations. The southern part of the fork will convey the new trains via a new station at Canary Wharf (deep underground), a new station at Custom House (at surface level), a new station at Woolwich (deep underground) and a terminus beside the existing station at Abbey Wood (also at surface level).

Above: The new train on its way to Shenfield, having left Stratford Station.

Ever since February 2017, a new Elizabeth Line train has been driven to the existing Liverpool Street Station, stopping beside various platforms, while engineers carry out checks on the train. It has also provided driver training. The interest in the top picture is therefore that the new Elizabeth Line train is standing beside an old platform at the original Liverpool Street Station. By the end of 2018, these new trains will use the new platforms, deep underground, at the new Liverpool Street Station. It will not be until December 2019 that the entire route – from Reading to Shenfield – will be fully operational, crossing the capital and conveying passengers on a newly built railway line.


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Hammersmith and Fulham, London Borough of

Above: Map of Inner London. The black lines show the original 28 Metropolitan Boroughs. In 1965 the two green ones were combined to form the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.

Until 1900 the name ‘London’ meant only one thing – the City of London. It is shown on the above outline map in pink and still exists today. Around the City were three Counties – Middlesex was on the north side of the Thames. The County of Surrey and the County of Kent formed parts of the south bank of the Thames. The area outlined on the above map consisted of many villages and parishes which were becoming larger and larger as time went by. Most of the land was gradually being covered by roads and houses. In 1899 a new ‘County’ was formed by taking parts of Middlesex, Surrey and Kent and forming Metropolitan London, administered by the London County Council (LCC). There were 28 Metropolitan Boroughs and, in addition, the City of London remained a separate administration. That newly formed land is shown by all the black boundaries on the top map.

In 1965 it was decided to combine the 28 Metropolitan Boroughs into 12 London Boroughs. Another 20 boroughs were added to the administrative area and the whole was called Greater London. What had been the area shown above is now called Inner London.

In 1965 the Metropolitan Borough of Fulham and the Metropolitan Borough of Hammersmith were combined to form the green area on the above map. The new name chosen for it was the London Borough of Hammersmith – Hammersmith having been the larger of the two original administrations. However, the residents of Fulham were enraged that their borough name had been dropped from the newly formed London Borough. They had every right to be annoyed because Fulham had been a parish long before the hamlet of Hammersmith ever came into existence. After considerable lobbying of the Council, the administrators gave in and the name was changed to ‘Hammersmith & Fulham’ on 1 January 1979. The Fulham residents had, therefore, waited 14 years to get their old parish name incorporated into the name of the London Borough. This also annoyed the Fulhamites who said that the name should be ‘Fulham & Hammersmith’ but that was never brought into use.

This academic year we shall be taking a look at the places of interest within this London Borough which, as can be seen, is a ‘long narrow borough’ with quite a long riverfront.

Comment 07 – London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham

Today we start a new series. Having considered some aspects of the London Borough of Wandsworth, we now turn out attention to the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. These two London Boroughs are the most westerly in Inner London – one each side of the Thames. The next few weeks will be devoted to the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, taking Fulham first and then having a look at Hammersmith.


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Beverley Brook

Above: A view at low tide of the point where Beverley Brook meets the Thames. The footbridge is in Putney and is part of the Thames footpath.

By the end of the 1800s, most of the villages surrounding the City of London were beginning to join up and all the land – within a five- or six-mile radius of the City was starting to look like a large urban sprawl. The Victorians were well aware of the nightmare of having a vast metropolis (yes, the word was coined about that time) without any real overall planning. It was then decided to combine a part of the County of Middlesex (on the north bank of the Thames) and parts of Surrey and Kent (bordering the south bank of the Thames) and create a ‘new county’ which became known as Metropolitan London.

Several blogs over the years have mentioned these facts. Today’s blog relates to Beverley Brook which is a tiny stream that once formed the western boundary of Wandsworth. The brook was chosen as the boundary of Metropolitan London (south of the Thames) on the western side. It is quite easy to see the brook on any street map of London. It is still in existence and water still flows in what looks rather like a large ditch.

Above: View from the same footbridge as in the picture above, showing the Beverley Brook when the Thames has reached high tide.

Beverley Brook meets the Thames opposite Bishop’s Park (on the north bank of the Thames). A good view of the mouth, where it meets the Thames, can be gained from the riverside footpath in Bishop’s Park. As can be seen, by looking at any good street map, the brook winds its way around the land in Wandsworth. Until 1965, when Inner London expanded to form Greater London, Beverley Brook was the boundary between the Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth and the rest of the County of Surrey.

The name of the brook appears in a document of AD 693 as ‘Beferipi’ and as ‘Beverley Creeke’ in 1668. The name is taken to mean ‘beaver stream’.


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Wandle, River

Above: Bing map showing the northern end of the Wandle (where it joins the Thames). The dark line of the Wandle can be seen. It is crossed by Wandle Bridge (which carries Wandsworth High Street) and another bridge (carrying Armoury Way). The large shopping precinct is south of Wandle Bridge and is built on top of the Wandle.

Several books, pamphlets and also Webpages have been written on the subject of the ‘Lost Rivers of London’. The River Thames flows through what is now Inner London and it was one of the reasons why the Romans established their township that they called Londinium. Flowing into the Thames, in Inner London, are many smaller tributaries – both on the north bank and on the south. We often refer to them as ‘lost rivers’ because, in the main, many of them now flow under the ground, often through sewer pipes. To the casual observer, they are, therefore ‘lost rivers’ because their course is not obvious – as any stream in the countryside is usually obvious.

The River Wandle is often included in the list of tributaries of the Thames (which it is) but it is also often also included in the list of ‘lost rivers’ (which it certainly is not). It is true that, for short lengths, the river is buried below ground, especially near busy high streets but, in the main, the Wandle is open to the sky. It makes an interesting and rather long walk to follow its course – from its two sources all the way to the Thames.

There are two sources for the Wandle – one at Carshalton Ponds (in the London Borough of Sutton) and the other at Waddon Ponds (in the London Borough of Croydon). Two streams flow towards each other and meet a short distance north of Carshalton. The Wandle then flows in a generally northerly direction through Morden (in the London Borough of Merton) before entering the London Borough of Wandsworth and flowing through what was originally the old village of Wandsworth. From that point, it widens and flows about half a mile further north to meet the Thames. Of the London Boroughs just mentioned, only Wandsworth is within Inner London. The other three (Sutton, Croydon and Merton) are Outer London Boroughs.

The first mention of the name we know as Wandsworth was as ‘Wendleswura’ in AD 693. The name is taken to mean ‘Wendel’s worth’– ‘worth’ being Old English for an open space, so a literal translation could be given as ‘Wendel’s Farm’. Of course, who ‘Wendel’ was we shall never know. It will be seen, therefore, that both the place name ‘Wandsworth’ and the river name ‘Wandle’ both derive from the ‘mystery man’ called ‘Wendel’.

The River Wandle falls 38 metres (126 feet) along its length of about 19 kilometres (12 miles) – making it a very fast flowing water course. Over the centuries this made it suitable to power watermills. It is known to have done this since Roman times. A wide range of different industries used the water power in their manufacture. In its heydey, there were no less than 56 water-mills being driven by the Wandle justifying its title as the ‘hardest working river for its size in the world’.

Whilst industries still exist along the river today, they sadly no longer use its power. Today, the river is a place of leisure with nature reserves and pleasant parkland that makes a walk along its length a very enjoyable one. Although stretches of the Wandle pass through busy high streets and built-up areas, it is surprising how much open space is to be seen along its banks.

This is very encouraging because, in the 1970s and 1980s, much of the river was in a very poor state and had been described as a dumping ground for waste. Some of the industries nearby discharged their chemical waste into the river, causing the water to turn various shades of blue and purple. In a relatively short space of time, more rigorous regulations have been enforced and the water is back to its original state. In fact, the water is probably better now than it has been for something like two or three centuries.

After flowing past Merton the Wandle flows near the western boundary of the London Borough of Wandsworth – running beside Wandle Park (near Collier’s Wood Station) and then through Wandle Meadow Nature Park (a short distance west of St George’s Hospital). The Wandle flows along part of the western boundary of the London Borough of Wandsworth as is passes through Garratt Park. It flows just west of Earlsfield Station and continues north via the long but not very wide King George’s Park, flowing between the park and Garratt Lane. The river flows under the large shopping precinct whose main entrance is at the northern end – beside Wandsworth High Street. The old Wandle Bridge – once a country bridge in the original village of Wandsworth – is now part of a busy one-way traffic-laden road forming part of the A3. North of the road bridge the Wandle flows past the old Ram Brewery, a part of the river that has been closed to pedestrians for over a century. Access for walking beside the Wandle at this point will become possible, once the new development is completed.

Wandsworth High Street is one-way for westbound traffic. Armoury Way is the one-way street for eastbound traffic. North of Armoury Way, public access is now possible in the form of a side street called ‘The Causeway’. A railway line via Wandsworth Town Station then crosses the Wandle and a footpath linking Smugglers Way to Enterprise Way acts as a good vantage point to see the northern end of the river and also glimpse the point where it meets the Thames. Access on foot, to the mouth of the Wandle, is not yet possible. There is a footpath which lies just west of the Wandle. It joins up with a relatively recent riverside footpath called Nickols Walk.


Comment 06 – 400th Blog

Started on the 19 September 2014 and now publishing three blogs each week, ‘Know Your London’ has reached its 400th edition. The author wishes to thank all those who have taken the trouble to get in touch on the blogs – either adding a comment or contributng further information. They have enriched each blog and have often added information that is not generally available elsewhere. Thanks also to those who have added a ‘like’. Such actions help to asses popular opinion of a particular blog.


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Ship Pub, Wandsworth Bridge

Above: In spite of the pub standing right next to a cement works for loading lorries all day long during the week, if the view is taken from the right place, the venue looks idyllic. Quite why the Thames sailing barge was moored alongside the pub. It was there for some time but it is not there now.

When the Thames was a working river – particularly in Victorian times – most of the banks of the river were endless wharves and quays where hundreds, if not thousands, of men toiled. Some wharves were where sea-going vessels moored to loaded or unloaded with goods. Some parts of the river bank were where river craft were built on small slipways. Other parts of the riverfront were in use by large factories and this type of activity continued well into the latter part of the 20th century. Today most of the riverfront has fallen silent as almost all the land has been redeveloped with large up-market housing estates.

When all the factories and wharves were in use, there were many pubs along the Thames – providing food and drink for the thousands of men who not only worked beside the river but, in many cases, lived only a short distance away, walking each day to their place of work. As the working aspect of the Thames has declined, so have the riverside pubs. Such hostelries, with premises that actually stand beside the Thames, are very few today.

Above: View looking west from Wandsworth Bridge. The pub is tucked away, out of sight, in line with the Thames sailing barge. The trees in the distance are part of Wandsworth Park.

One such pub is the Ship which is ‘alive and well’ and busier than ever – mainly due to the many riverside apartments nearby but also due to the many people who enjoy a long walk beside the Thames (on the newly laid out footpaths) and who have discovered new watering-holes for them to enjoy.

The Ship was probably built to serve the needs of local workers. Its first recorded mention was 1809. The address is 41 Jews Row, SW18 – standing just west of Wandsworth Bridge, on the Wandsworth side of the Thames. Of recent years the surrounding land has become gentrified, with many apartments and also several restaurants. All these factors have contributed to the large number of visitors to the locality, especially over the weekend in the summer months.


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Surrey Iron Railway

Above: This is one of the only paintings made of the railway. It shows the trucks being hauled along the track, on an embankment. The five trucks are being pulled by a horse.

The railway was established at a meeting in the Spread Eagle PH, Wandsworth, on 24 July 1800. Work started in 1801 to construct railway tracks from Wandsworth to Croydon, and thence to Merstham, in order to convey chalk, dug from the Surrey hills around Epsom, to the Thames. In addition, coal, building materials, lime, manure, corn and seeds were also carried. It was designed by Benjamin Outram, from whose surname the word ‘tram’ was formed. The architect Edward Banks worked on the railway as a young man.

It should be mentioned that heavy goods like those already mentioned were usually moved by canal. The idea of building a railway to convey the goods was quite revolutionary.

The line became the world’s first public railway. The rails were used by trucks, pulled by horses, laden with heavy commodities. The rails ran on stone sleepers. None of the original track exists along the route of the old line but a few of the original sleepers from the line are preserved outside West Hill Library.

It was a public toll railway, providing a track for independent goods hauliers to use their own horses and waggons. The company did not operate its own trains. Sometimes it leased out the track and the dock. Sometimes it collected tolls and kept the line in repair itself. The double-track plate-way had a spacing of about five feet between the centres of the stone blocks. The gauge was recorded as 4 feet 2 inches – the same as on the Croydon Merstham and Godstone Railway. The nine-mile route followed the shallow valley of the River Wandle, then heavily industrialised with numerous factories and mills – from the River Thames at Wandsworth southwards to Croydon, at what is now Reeves Corner. A short branch ran from Mitcham to Hackbridge and Carshalton.

The Surrey Iron Railway was in use until 1844 when it was sold to a steam railway company – hauling normal passenger trains. The old tracks of the original railway were lifted in 1848. Subsequently, much of its trackbed through Mitcham to Croydon was used for the Wimbledon to West Croydon railway which was opened in 1855. This was closed in 1997 to re-open in May 2000 as part of today’s Croydon Tramlink system.


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