Sands End

Sands End, Hammersmith & Fulham

Fulham’s former industrial district, now the site of high-profile riverside developments

Street cleaners, Bagleys Lane by Oast House Archive

In the Mid­dle Ages the west­ern part of Sands End was occu­pied by Ful­ham town mead­ows, where vil­lagers grazed their cat­tle on the marsh­es, while Sand­ford manor lay to the north-east. The manor came into the pos­ses­sion of West­min­ster Abbey dur­ing the reign of Hen­ry VII. Its Eliz­a­bethan manor house became a salt­pe­tre fac­to­ry in 1762 and var­i­ous oth­er kinds of fac­to­ry lat­er, includ­ing a pot­tery and a bleach and die works.

As drainage was improved, orchards and mar­ket gar­dens appeared but these were grad­u­al­ly erased by river­side indus­tries, start­ing with the Impe­r­i­al gas­works in the 1820s. The Kens­ing­ton Canal was cut across the dis­trict but proved unprof­itable and was lat­er replaced by a rail­way line. Rows of ter­raced hous­ing were laid out inland from 1870.

Ful­ham coun­cil built a pow­er sta­tion in 1901 and a larg­er dis­tri­b­u­tion cen­tre in 1936. On Town­mead Road Mac­far­lane Lang baked bis­cuits and Van den Bergh’s made mar­garine until the mid-1930s.

From the end of the Sec­ond World War the ware­hous­es, works and wharves pro­gres­sive­ly closed down, leav­ing a waste­land by the 1980s. Many of the larg­er Vic­to­ri­an ter­raced hous­es were split into to flats. The Queen Eliz­a­beth – a pub­lic house at the cor­ner of Bagleys Lane and Pearscroft Road – was con­vert­ed to a youth hos­tel.

Sandford Manor House
Sand­ford Manor House

The coun­cil des­ig­nat­ed Sands End’s riv­er frontage a con­ser­va­tion area in 1991 to pro­tect it from unsym­pa­thet­ic devel­op­ment, fol­low­ing some ear­ly excres­cences.

A Sainsbury’s super­store has filled the site of the pow­er sta­tion, Chelsea Har­bour has been cre­at­ed in place of a for­mer coal­yard and the huge Impe­r­i­al Wharf devel­op­ment has replaced the Impe­r­i­al gas­works. Oth­er projects have includ­ed the Har­bour Club and apart­ments at Regent on the Riv­er.

There’s more to come soon, includ­ing the demo­li­tion of the Carn­wath Road indus­tri­al estate and its replace­ment with yet more upmar­ket res­i­dences.

Sand­ford manor house, which now stands on Gwyn Close, at the end of Rewell Street, has been con­served (but not restored to its orig­i­nal state) and con­vert­ed to offices. The house is grade II* list­ed – and hid­den behind high walls and tall trees.

It is said that Nell Gwyn lived at Sandford manor house for a while, where Charles II visited her, but Nell was the sort of character who inspired many stories.

The essayist and politician Joseph Addison certainly lived at Sands End in the early 18th century, quite probably at the manor house.

Postal district: SW6
Population: 12,760 (2011 census)
Further reading: Francis Czucha, Old Sands End, Fulham, Stenlake, 2010
* The picture of street cleaners, Bagleys Lane, at the top of this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Oast House Archive, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence. The picture of Sandford Manor House is lifted from Thomas Faulkner’s History of Fulham, digitised by Google.