Fulham Road

Fulham Road, Hammersmith & Fulham/Kensington & Chelsea

A fashionable street extending two-and-a-half miles south-westwards from Brompton Cross to the grounds of Fulham Palace

geograph-4684668-by-Des-Blenkinsopp - Fulham Road

The ‘way from Ful­ham to Lon­don’ was first men­tioned in 1372 and it became a func­tion­al high­way in 1410, when the Bish­op of Lon­don caused Stam­ford Bridge to be built across Coun­ters Creek, thus con­nect­ing Chelsea and Ful­ham. By this time, ham­lets exist­ed at Bromp­ton and Wal­ham Green. In the ear­ly 17th cen­tu­ry anoth­er set­tle­ment evolved north-east of Stam­ford Bridge. It was orig­i­nal­ly known as Lit­tle Chelsea.

Else­where, open fields bor­dered the road on both sides until the mid-18th cen­tu­ry, when spec­u­la­tive builders began to put up clumps of smart hous­es between the farms. Sec­tions of the road had street light­ing from 1806 and paving by 1845.

From the 1840s the Roy­al Bromp­ton Hos­pi­tal took shape at the road’s north-east­ern end and a can­cer hos­pi­tal, now the Roy­al Mars­den, moved to its present site in 1862. Hous­es of vary­ing sizes and qual­i­ty lined much of the rest of the road, togeth­er with pri­vate schools and asy­lums and St George’s work­house, which gained an infir­mary in 1878.

Beyond Ful­ham Broad­way, the south-west­ern sec­tion of the road was devel­oped in the ear­ly 1880s, when builders were descend­ing on Ful­ham en masse. (See the arti­cle on Wal­ham Green for details of devel­op­ments in and around the Broad­way.)

A corner of Sir Oswald Stoll Mansions
A cor­ner of Sir Oswald Stoll Man­sions

From the late 19th cen­tu­ry larg­er shops and places of enter­tain­ment began to appear along the north-east­ern part of the road. Chelsea foot­ball club came into exis­tence at Stam­ford Bridge in 1905.

In 1911 Miche­lin opened its delight­ful­ly ornate UK head­quar­ters (and a tyre-fit­ting garage) at 81 Ful­ham Road. The first blocks of upmar­ket flats were built near­by before the First World War.

In 1916 the the­atri­cal impre­sario Sir Oswald Stoll donat­ed a site next to Chelsea’s ground for homes for injured ex-ser­vice­men and their fam­i­lies. Stoll also led the cam­paign to raise funds for the homes’ con­struc­tion.

Fol­low­ing an unevent­ful peri­od before and after the Sec­ond World War, Ful­ham Road became fash­ion­able in the 1960s, par­tic­u­lar­ly at the Bromp­ton end. Ter­ence Con­ran estab­lished the first Habi­tat store at 77 Ful­ham Road in 1964. Art gal­leries, antique deal­ers, jew­ellers and fash­ion hous­es lat­er moved to Ful­ham Road from increas­ing­ly unaf­ford­able May­fair. In 1987 Con­ran opened a restau­rant and shop in the immac­u­late­ly refur­bished Miche­lin build­ing.

In for­mer Lit­tle Chelsea the pro­gres­sive evo­lu­tion of the old work­house infir­mary cul­mi­nat­ed in the open­ing of the £200-mil­lion Chelsea and West­min­ster Hos­pi­tal in 1993. Its vicin­i­ty has a pleas­ing mix of pubs and eater­ies, inde­pen­dent shops and gal­leries, and a six-screen cin­e­ma. This stretch of the road has been nick­named ‘the Beach’, for uncer­tain rea­sons.

‘The Avenue’ constituted a group of 15 artists’ and sculptors’ studios at 76 Fulham Road from the late 19th century. Alfred Gilbert created ‘Eros’ for Piccadilly Circus at No. 8 in 1893, and John Singer Sargent worked here for 20 years, lending his studio to James Whistler for a while in 1896.

Postal districts: SW6, SW10 and SW3
* The picture of Fulham Road at the top of this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Des Blenkinsopp, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.