Latimer Road

Latimer Road, Kensington & Chelsea/Hammersmith & Fulham

A London Underground station and historically poor street situated on the western side of Notting Dale

Hidden London, Bramley Arms, by David Anstiss

Latimer Road­’s name orig­i­nates from land endowed by Edward Latymer for the fund­ing of Hammersmith’s Latymer school in the ear­ly 17th cen­tu­ry.

The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Rail­way line to Ham­mer­smith was built through the dis­trict in 1864 and a sta­tion opened four years lat­er on Bram­ley Road, at the junc­tion with a branch line run­ning south to Addi­son Road. By this time cot­tage laun­dries and pigsties were replac­ing for­mer brick­fields and the sta­tion was nick­named ‘Pig­gery Junc­tion’.

Latimer Road’s pover­ty drew munic­i­pal and phil­an­thropic assis­tance. In 1880 the school board for Lon­don built the three-storey Latimer Road school, which now hous­es Kens­ing­ton and Chelsea’s pupil sup­port cen­tre. Har­row school estab­lished a mis­sion on the street in 1884 and a school in 1887.

How­ev­er, depri­va­tion con­tin­ued well beyond the Vic­to­ri­an era, as Horace Newte observed in 1915: “Between Not­ting Hill and Worm­wood Scrubs lies a vast desert of human dwellings … by scarce­ly per­cep­ti­ble degrees, there is a declen­sion of so-called respectabil­i­ty, till at last the frankly work­ing-class dis­trict of Latimer Road is reached.”

The rela­tion­ship between the street and the sta­tion was bro­ken off by the con­struc­tion in the 1960s of the West­way and the West Cross Route to Shepherd’s Bush, when Latimer Road’s south­ern­most sec­tion was renamed Fre­ston Road.

The Greater Lon­don Coun­cil planned to demol­ish much of Fre­ston Road and replace it with indus­try and high-den­si­ty flats but squat­ters occu­pied the hous­es and declared the Repub­lic of Fre­sto­nia in 1977. The GLC backed down and grant­ed the squat­ters tem­po­rary leave to stay, while the Bram­ley Hous­ing Co-oper­a­tive planned and built on a human scale. The first new homes were com­plet­ed in 1985.

In recent years pock­ets of the Latimer Road area have gone upmar­ket, notably at the Phoenix Brew­ery on Bram­ley Road and ‘Not­ting Dale Vil­lage’ on the new­ly-cre­at­ed Nicholas Road. How­ev­er, most of the local­i­ty’s res­i­dents still live in sub­sidised hous­ing and there are rel­a­tive­ly few leisure ameni­ties – oth­er than the huge West­way sports cen­tre – and lit­tle choice of places to shop or eat. Of course, on the oth­er side of the West Cross Route it’s anoth­er world.

In a classic chase scene in The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), all the police cars converge in a pile-up at the junction of Bramley Road and Freston (then Latimer) Road in front of the Bramley Arms. Shown in the photograph above,* the pub also featured in the films Sid and Nancy, Betrayal, Leo the Last and Quadrophenia.

Postal districts: W10 and W11
Station: Hammersmith & City Line (zone 2)
Web page: RBKC Library local studies blog
See also: Notting Dale, for more on this part of North Kensington
* The picture of the Bramley Arms on this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright David Anstiss, 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.
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