…there was marshland and pasture gently rising from the banks of a wide Thames. Then the medieval pattern of strip farming matured into the Bradmore estate containing orchards and market gardens growing produce for London’s burgeoning population.
A farmhouse stood on the site of Brackenburys, the Stamford brook wound down to the river, and the Roman Gold Hawk road set straight for Bath as it had done for hundreds of years. A stinking ditch ran beside Aldensley Road and night soil fertilised the vegetables and fruit trees.
Along King Street messengers galloped taking news of the victory at Trafalgar from Plymouth to Westminster. And along King Street hostelries sprang up and the Thatched House was patronised in nearby Paddenswick Road. Such was the life of Brackenbury until the 19th century – but in a few decades all was to change.
In 1864 the Hammersmith and City Railway connected Hammersmith to Paddington and the quick march of commuters led to the even quicker spread of housing, schools and churches. Families such as the Clarks and the Birds bought plots of land, the factory in Cambridge Grove supplying them with bricks.
In 1898 George Wimpey built Hammersmith Grove and relaid tramlines in Goldhawk Road; the company was headquartered in Hammersmith Grove. This was a time of great industry with breweries and wharves all along the banks of the Thames which teemed with shipping.
William Morris was engaged on his last project – the Kelmscott Press, and in 1900 the Metropolitan Borough of Hammersmith replaced the church vestry as the second tier of government.
Godolphin and Latymer School for girls moved to the Iffley Road school vacated by the boys. Later on, in the 1920s, the sculptor Henry Moore lived and worked in Grove Studios in Adie Road.
Sadly, in the inter-war years and later, Hammersmith declined somewhat and became a grimy, impoverished place, so much so that, according to a resident still only in his 50s, “. . .even the Kray twins wouldn’t come here”.
Twenty or so years ago, when the Grove Neighbourhood Centre was established on a former bomb site, what is now known as Brackenbury was as yet untroubled by too much wealth.
The name ‘Brackenbury Village’ was coined by estate agents in order to gentrify the area. It seems to have worked since most of Brackenbury is now part of the Bradmore Conservation Area, with property prices being some of the highest in London.