Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Alight At Fulham Broadway …

Femme Fatale at Viscount Ranelagh's house in olde Fullanham
“Do you know anything about that building?” I asked the lady conveniently sitting, looking towards the Empress State Building. We are in the Prince of Wales pub, at 14 Lillie Road, Fulham.

“Why, Yes I do. Sit down!  Don’t tell me you want to buy it?

“Good Lord, No”! I said. “I couldn’t afford one of the doors, never mind that ginormous thing”.  It has 31 floors and rises 385 feet.

“Just curious, are you?”

“I guess you can say that”. I answered.

“Well it’s been there since the 1960’s.  GCHQ once occupied it, you know.  At the time it was the tallest building in Britain.”

“Interesting”!  I said.

I had earlier made my journey from the Kings Road, Chelsea, towards the New Kings Road.  Then I had crossed unto Fulham Road, via Hortensia Road, directly in front of Brompton Cemetery. 

Up Fulham road, I passed Chelsea football stadium and Fulham Broadway Station, before turning right for North End Road; and then right again, on Lillie Road.
Had I turned left, instead, I could have gone to Fulham Palace, the historic home of the Bishops of London.  There I could have strolled the palace gardens; visit the museum free of charge, then sit down to a cup of coffee and sandwich, from its now famous Drawing Room Café. 
So, contrary to popular belief, although both Chelsea and Fulham have their pitches here, Fulham is not just about football.  In fact, it is no less appealing than its property- rich neighbours: Chelsea and Kensington.  It is only six short stops from Victoria, on the District line; and two from Earls Court.

During the 18th century, rich London gents frequented Fulham, for gambling and prostitution. 

The L Shaped Room’, a novel by Lynne Reid Banks, depicts the life of an unmarried pregnant woman, living in 1950’s Fulham.  Later turned into a film, the bug-ridden Fulham boarding house and its prostitutes living in the basement, moved to Notting Hill.

Today, Fulham is an abundantly rich looking and interesting neighbourhood. Its heart beats undoubtedly, from the Fulham Broadway shopping centre; where in 2003, the underground station closed its doors, and moved some fifty metres down the Fulham Road, nestling itself inside the bosom of the new Broadway shopping centre.

Out Of Fulham Broadway -- Into Fulham's rich history
Therein, is also a wide variety of shops and restaurants; a cinema, gymnasium and basement car park.

On North End Road, is one of the oldest street markets in London, existing since the 1880’s. Walking along it, you can hear the friendly enticement of traders, wooing you to buy their wares. They speak in a dialect all of their own. Perhaps it’s as Barrow boys once did. The Barrow Boy pub at 308-310 North End Road, reminds one of that era.
Lillie Langtry -- The Jersey Lily.
 From the Prince of Wales pub where we are, it’s easy to be captivated by scenic history. Directly on the other side of the road, is the Lillie Langtry Pub. With wine and company, you are reminded of the scandalous affair between the Prince of Wales and her -- the ‘Jersey Lily’; during the 19th Century.  
Beyond the Lillie Langtry, is the 150 year old London Oratory School.
To the right, further up Lillie Road, is the Lily hotel. Then, it is the 504 rooms Ibis Hotel.  It has its own London Taxi Rank, 24 hour car park, and conference suite attached.
No more than 100 metres to the left of us, is the main entrance to Earls Court Exhibition Centre.  And directly in its sights on the other side of the road, is West Brompton Over ground, and Underground station.

Joined to it, and stretching far away to its right, is Brompton cemetery.  Established in 1836, it was completed in 1840.  Nowadays, trees grow wide and high above it.
Entering its gates via Lillie Road, you cut through this 165,000 square feet burial ground, sheltering some famous --and not so famous occupants.  You’ll exit on Fulham Road.
It seems fair to conclude then, that Fulham cannot match Chelsea and Kensington in the property stakes.  However, it engages you with history, sports, famous hotels and pubs; as well as good ole tittle tattle.   Now what more can you ask of Fulham?

Fulham in an emergency:
Fulham Police Station, Heckford Place, Off Fulham Rd: Emergency - always dial 999 textphone 18000.
Non-emergency - dial 101 textphone 18001 101.
Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, 369 Fulham Road: 020 8746 8000                    http://www.chelwest.nhs.uk/your-visit/.
Royal Marsden Cancer Hospital, 197 Fulham Road: 020 7352 8171                
St. John’s Church, On North End Road, opened since 1828:  020 7385 7634 http://www.stjohnsfulham.org/. 


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