Parklet proposed for King Street

I am very pleased to see a proposal from Rivercourt Methodist Church for a “Parklet” on the entrance to their site in King Street. At present there is a dreary patch of concrete.

The inspiration is from the Deli in Brackenbury Road.

It would mean some extra work for members of the Church to maintain the small garden but if they are willing to take this on the initiative seems to be very welcome. The one in Brackenbury Road was given some funding from Transport for London for providing bike hoops.

Steve Lawrence, who is behind the idea, says:

“This is more about someplace to sit rather than a garden but it would still be an upgrade on what is there at present. The area certainly need rejuvenating.”

I am encouraging the Council to respond positively and will report back. These days any enterprise – however modest and worthy – faces practical difficulties and bureaucratic impediments. Let’s hope they an be overcome in this case.

Stephan Wiedmer: Finances not adding up? Workshops with practical advice for those struggling

crossadA guest post by Stephan Wiedmer, the Hammersmith Branch Manager for Crosslight Advice

Hammersmith & Fulham is a wonderful place to call home, but life in London comes with a high price tag and many of us  find our budget just doesn’t add up at the end of the month. Over a quarter of  households in the borough live on less than £20,000 a year and almost a third of people rely on housing benefits.  As a local charity, Crosslight Advice supports people who are struggling to pay essential bills such as rent, council tax and utility bills. Our aim is to help people manage their money better, no matter how much or little someone has.

We have created  Money Course Essentials, which is a short, friendly workshop packed with useful advice to help anyone to manage their money better. We hope to reach as many people as possible in the borough, especially those transferred to the new benefit system Universal Credit. This is paid monthly not weekly, and new claimants have to wait up to seven weeks or more to be paid. Another big change is that in most cases the housing element (former housing benefits) gets paid to the claimant and no longer to the landlord. This means budgeting and managing finances becomes an even more important skill. The Money Course Essentials workshop covers topics such as building your own budget, saving money and ways to manage your bills and day-to-day spending, making sure you have money put aside each month to cover essential bills.

We run two workshops a month in the St Paul’s Centre by Hammersmith Broadway. They are small and informal, with plenty of opportunity to share questions and suggestions, get support and advice. So far, everyone who’s been on one has said they would recommend the course to a friend – you can’t say better than that.

Here’s what a few people said:

“I was at rock bottom and now I have light in my life”

“I feel like a weight has been lifted. I can’t wait to get started [on building a budget]”

“I like that anything I was not sure of was explained in way that I can understand. I feel unburdened and more relaxed.”

> To book your free place here or call 020 7052 0318.

Crosslight also offers free face-to-face debt advice, education, practical assistance and ongoing support.  Our focus is on empowering clients to take back control of their finances permanently, not just helping them out of a short term crisis, and we work with clients for as long as it takes to get them back on their feet and work independently.

We are always looking for more people willing to join our committed group of 25 volunteers to help people in our neighbourhood. Please contact us if you are interested in  volunteering  –  call 020 7052 0318 or email


St Andrew’s community garden blessed by Archdeacon

ffiskeCllr Caroline ffiske writes:

Volunteers at St Andrew’s Church in Barons Court have transformed the church grounds.  Across the project, over 300 “volunteer hours” were recorded and around 20 individuals gave their time. Over 200 bags of refuse were removed from the site.  More than 100 new plants of many varieties have been planted.

The garden looks a little new and wintry at the moment but it is all set to flourish in the spring.

Today the gardens were blessed by Archdeacon Stephan Welch. The Deputy Mayor of Hammersmith & Fulham, Cllr Daryl Brown, gave a speech and opened the gardens.  She referred to the fact that plants prefer to live in groups, and that under the ground, plants share information and nutrients.

The little holly tree donated by W6 Garden Centre in Ravenscourt Park looks very comfortable and perfect for the spot.

Below the ground, plants form communities and share resources.   Above ground, volunteering and community spaces help to make communities thrive.garden1


Remembering the civilian casualties in Hammersmith from the Second World War

higton2A guest post from Mark Higton.

The Church of St Katherine, Westway, cuts a dark and foreboding silhouette as one drives along the A40. Many assume the Church to be disused, or abandoned, and it’s stark 1950s concrete prefab design, now cracked, darkened, and ravaged by acid rain, does nothing to disabuse the casual motorist that it is not; nor does it hint of the dynamic Rev. Jim Tate, his wife Lesley, and the wonderful congregation that can often be found within.

stkaThose that look upon the Church often wonder “Why on earth would anyone design such an ugly Cross.” To which the reply is “the architect didn’t”. The ‘Cross’ is not a cross in the strictest sense, but a relic from the broken and twisted steel superstructure that jutted defiantly out of the shattered and burnt remains of St Catherine Coleman after it, and houses on The Westway, The Curve, and Hemlock Road, were destroyed by enemy action on the night of the 12 th of October 1940.

Please spare a thought for Mrs Emily Tanner and her son Raymond, of No 104 The Westway, Mrs Grace Hoggart and her daughter Ellen, of No 8 Shepherds Bush Road, and Charles Hallpike and his sister Lucy, of No 4 Shepherds Bush Green, who were all killed as they slept; for Mr Alfred Baker, 24 The Curve, and Mr Arthur Underhill, 48 Norland Road, who died as they were taken to Hammersmith Hospital; and for Mr John Bartlett, of No 47 Bloemfontein Road, who passed away the following day.

suninn2However the biggest single loss of life in Hammersmith occurred on the 25th September 1940, when the Sun Pub, 120 Askew Road, suffered a direct hit. It is said that 55 people were killed and wounded.

These include Mary Barrett, Michael Dollymore, Ernest Finch, Ethel Furnish, Arthur Green, Jean Hillier, Robert Hillier, Alfred Kimpton, Albert Matthews, Edward Newman, William Orridge, William Percy, Charles Rogers, William Smith, Claude Sparkes, Gladys Sparkes, Stanley Warne, and Charles Wood.

Imagine the scene, if you can. The bravery of the ARP, Civil Defence Volunteers, police, firemen, and residents excavating the smashed wreckage, alert for the cry of the wounded and dying, against the deafening sound of the Anti-Aircraft Guns of Ravenscourt Park engaging enemy aircraft over head. I also reflect upon the resolve of the London Auxiliary Ambulance Drivers, my great aunt Winifred Higton included, National Emergency Health Service, and the gallantry of the RAF.

When the Church of St Katherine, Westway, was finally built in 1959 it did not win any plaudits – unlike the Church that preceded it – however Mr J R Atkinson, the son of the architect of the first church, should perhaps be forgiven for the brutal post-modern design. It is not merely a Church, but a monument to all those killed in the Blitz, the horror and brutality of war, and the bravery of local residents from all walks of life, of which Hammersmith can be proud.

N.B. The Rev. Jim Tate would be grateful for help to conserve the Cross, please contact if you would like get involved.

A review of St Peter’s Estate by Jilly Paver

IMG_1170St Peter’s Estate

A history of St Peter’s Square and its neighbourhood

Jilly Paver

£7.50 if collected from St Peter Villas or £10 including postage and packing. Email

This is a slim volume, but it is packed with fascinating material about the development of this beautiful corner of Hammersmith.

The man responsible was George Scott who was born in 1780 and lived in a house at Lower Mall. In 1807 he married Hannah Lucy Stoe, the daughter of a market gardener, who brought with the marriage settlement £5,000 and a significant portion of land between King Street and the River. In 1812 they bought the Palingswick estate, including the Ravenscourt manor house and its grounds, for £15,000 and made it their home.

Then the 1820s and 1830s saw the building of the St Peter’s Estate – St Peter’s Square, Black Lion Lane, St Peter’s Villas, St Peter’s Road, St Peter’s Grove, Theresa Road, Theresa Mews, Beavor Lane and the part of Standish Road.

IMG_1171Sir William Bull, the Conservative MP for Hammersmith, wrote in his memoirs in 1922 , that as Scott had given the ground and “subscribed very liberally to the building of the Church, he secretly hoped that the Authorities would call the Church St George’s as a polite compliment to him. But he did not make his wishes known.”

How awkward. It just goes to show if you don’t ask you don’t get….

Incidentally, Sir William personally saved the garden in the middle of St Peter’s Square – buying it to prevent it from being built on. He took a considerable financial risk. But after some dithering, the Hammersmith Council bought the land from him, thus allowing the public open space we still enjoy today. It was not the last time that proposed overdevelopment was to be a source of local controversy.

It does sound as though Sir William was an MP with the right attitude to public service. He gave a fine speech in 1909 arguing that MPs should not be paid. One of his arguments being that we would then end up with councillors being paid. We would have “a very distinct class of professional politician” who went into Parliament for what he could make.

St Peter’s Square has been a cultural hub in various different ways over the years. We learn from this book that:

“In 1973 number 22 was sold to Island Records, which used it for offices and built a recording studio in the basement, nicknamed The Fallout Shelter. Here they recorded musicians such as Bob Marley, Cat Stevens, Jethro Tull, Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler.”

The poet and novelist Robert Graves lived at 35 St Peter’s Square. At that time the area had a bohemian reputation and was known as London’s “free love quarter”. Graves had ménage à trois with his first wife, the artist Nancy Nicholson and their four children, and his mistress, the American poet Laura Riding. My uncle Geoffrey lived there too. At one stage there was a supposed “double suicide” attempt. I was told this was a serious effort by Riding – who jumped out from the top floor and although she was seriously hurt, survived. It was more of a symbolic reflex by Graves – who took the precaution of running down a couple of flights of stairs first before making the gesture of jumping out of the first floor window and having a few minor cuts and bruises.

Naturally there is a chapter on public houses. Black Lion Lane was named after the Black Lion Pub (which opened in 1722). The pub already has skittles inside but Paver reports:

“There are current plans to reinstate the skittle alley in its original site in the garden.”

The Carpenter’s Arms opened in 1873. The Cross Keys pub, which opened in 1828, was named after the crossed keys – as in the keys to Heaven, the sign of St Peter.

There is also a chapter on schools. George Scott’s daughter, Hannah, endowed a girls school in St Peter’s Grove.  It opened in 1849 and is still going as a Church of England primary school for boys as well as girls.  Again, William Bull bought some land, at significant financial risk, to allow the school to expand. They eventually managed to pay him back.

IMG_1172Of course the A4 extension in the 1957 was a disaster for the community. As Paver says:

“The extension of the Great West Road through our area has been a change for the worse in many ways, not only because of the destruction of fine houses and gardens, the pollution and the noise, but it has effectively divided our neighbourhood from the riverside and families and friends from each other.”

A child’s poem protesting against it is reprinted. (“Thou vast and soulless ribbon of concrete/How many are the homes thous didst delete…”)

I am very keen to see the road tunnelised and the old street patterns and housing restored.

IMG_1173As someone who trudges around knocking on doors canvassing I was interested to hear where all the names of various streets and blocks of flats come from.

British Grove was named after the British and Foreign Schools Society. (Frederick Walton the inventor of Linoleum lived there and had an adjacent factory that churned out the squidgy floor covering.) Miller’s Court, down by the River, was on the site of Miller’s Bakery. Beavor Lane was named after a chap called Samuel Beavor who built a house there in 1757. Chambon Place was on the site of the Chambon Works, a French owned factory manufacturing printing presses that was apparently opened by General de Gaulle.

Standish Road was named (for no particular reason) after Myles Standish who was a military adviser to the pilgrims on the Mayflower. Samels Court, the three blocks in Black Lion Lane just south of the A4 built in 1967, were named after Bertie Samels – a confectioner who was Mayor of Hammersmith from 1926-31.

These are many more insights into the area – both poignant and entertaining. A must read for those lucky enough to live in the area – and even those that don’t.

Hammersmith United Charities to take part in Open Garden Squares weekend – June 18th-19th

hucflowerAs part of Open Garden Squares Weekend, the residents of John Betts House and Sycamore House invite you to enjoy their special gardens.

logokeyThere are over 200 gardens to explore across 25 London boroughs ranging from the historic and traditional to the new and experimental.

Tickets for the whole weekend cost just £12 and children under 12 go free, from Open Squares.

Tickets on the door for John Betts House and Sycamore Gardens are £4 for each garden. Proceeds go to London parks and open spaces.


Rylett Road W12 9NJ

The gardens are a platform for workshops and social events enabling people to work in their own part of the garden, or to simply relax and enjoy.

Last year, they were placed third with a Silver Gilt in the Small Community Garden category of the London Garden Society’s 2015 competition.

• Open 2pm – 5pm

• Homemade cakes and plant sale

• Disabled lavatories on site

Sycamore Gardens W6 0AS

The sheltered housing gardens continues to win awards. Sycamore House won the Large Community Garden category of the London Garden Society 2015 annual competition.

• Open 2pm – 5pm

• Tea, coffee, homemade cakes, plant and craft stall.

• Disabled lavatories on site

About Hammersmith United Charities

Helping local people in Hammersmith

They support local people to build their confidence and resourcefulness, develop their own talents and skills, connect people together and strengthen relationships and neighbourliness within and across diverse communities.

They do this by managing vibrant sheltered housing communities for older people, funding a community based grants programme, including the Wormholt & White City Big Local, and by working with local people, organisations and businesses.

A great way to show your support for their work for the next 400 years is to leave a legacy.

Contact HUC at : Sycamore House, Sycamore Gardens, London W6 0AS Tel: 020 8741 4326 Charity number: 205856

Also taking part in the Open Garden Squares Weekend in Hammersmith and Fulham are the following:

All Saints Vicarage Garden, Fulham
Saturday: 11:00–16:00
+Sunday: 14:00–17:00

Fulham Palace
Saturday: 11:00–16:00

Fulham Palace Meadows Allotments
Saturday: 11:30–15:30

Ravenscourt Park Glasshouses
Saturday: 10:00–16:00

The River Cafe

William Morris Society
Saturday: 14:00–17:00

More details here.

Thanksgiving Service to celebrate HM Queen Elizabeth II becoming our longest serving monarch

holyinnocentsqueenA Thanksgiving Service to celebrate the Queen’s milestone as the UK’s longest serving Monarch will be held at Holy Innocents Church, Paddenswick Road, W6, at 10am on Sunday 13th September.

The service will be followed by a reception in aid of local charities, where people will have an opportunity to share their memories of the Coronation. Afterwards to mark both the event and the relaunch of The Thatched House, a lunch will be held.

Please contact administrator@HISJ.Co.UK  to book spaces by September 9, at own cost. There will be a collection in Aid of Angola London Mozambique Association (ALMA) and our Partners-in-Mission in the Province of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

Carol services in Hammersmith and Fulham

stpetersblackSt Paul’s, Hammersmith : Sunday 14th December at 5pm and 7.30pm.
St Peter’s, Black Lion Lane: Sunday 14th December at 6.30pm.
St Simon’s, Rockley Road : Sunday 14th December at 7pm.
St Andrew’s, Star Road: Sunday 21st December at 6.30pm.
St Matthew’s Church, Wandsworth Bridge Road: Sunday 21st December at 6.30pm.
Holy Innocents Church, Paddenswick Road: Tuesday 23rd December at 7.30pm
Please let me know if I have missed any…