West Kensington is an area of West London, England, 3.4 miles (5.5 km) west of Charing Cross. West Kensington, the London postal area of W14 is roughly defined as the area between Brook Green and Hammersmith Road to the west, Fulham to the south, Shepherd's Bush to the north and Kensington to the east.
It is best known as home to the Olympia Exhibition Centre and the Queen's Club at Barons Court.
In 1876 William Henry Gibbs and John P. Flew, builders from Dorset, decided to capitalise on their modest success in Kensington, by recreating another 'South Kensington' on the market gardens west of the West London Railway. They built 1,200 houses in the village of North End in the parish of Fulham. However, the housing slump of the 1880s left them with many unsold properties. Their response was two-fold, to have North End renamed as 'West Kensington' and to build a bridge over the railway, from their estate to link with the Cromwell Road in fashionable Kensington. They succeeded with the first plan, but the second led to bankruptcy and the dissolution of the partnership in 1885. However, the campaign for the bridge was taken up by local residents and the West Cromwell Road bridge was eventually commenced in 1938 and opened in 1942. Gibbs and Flew thereafter carried on separate businesses with a measure of success in Fulham.
West Kensington is primarily a residential area consisting mainly of Victorian terraced houses, many of which are subdivided into flats. There are excellent examples of Victorian architecture, with several houses and some entire streets listed – including the imposing mansion blocks of Fitzgeorge Avenue (off North End Road) and the mansion blocks around Avonmore Road including, Glyn Mansions (Built 1897), Avonmore Mansions and Avonmore Gardens (Built 1893) which is located next to the new Kensington Village development. West Kensington Court was purpose built and completed in 1938 with a view of providing what were considered at the time luxury flats for young professionals and families wishing to move from older-style properties. There are also a number of ex-local authority and local authority buildings around the North End Road, including the recently renovated Lytton Estate. Many of buildings have been sold off. A more recent private development, St Paul's Court, was built in 1980 on the former site of St Paul's School.
West Kensington straddles the border between the boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea. W14 became the first London postcode area without a post office, until a sub-post office agreement was reached with North End News in February 2009.
On 26 February 1975, Stephen Tibble, a 22 year old police officer of the Metropolitan Police, was fatally shot by Liam Quinn, a member of the Provisional IRA, after a chase near Barons Court tube station. It was later discovered that a flat on Fairholme Road was used by the IRA and Quinn himself as a 'bomb factory'.
Commerce and education
Local business consists of small shops, offices and restaurants, with the Olympia Exhibition Centre nearby. West Kensington is within easy reach of Earl's Court, and the Broadways of Fulham, Hammersmith and Notting Hill. There are several pubs and hotels, including The Albion public house, which is reputedly haunted. The Baron's Court Theatre is also located in basement of The Curtains Up bar and restaurant. The Carnival Store is a longstanding fancy dress and costume shop in Hammersmith Road and family owned for the past 40 years.
Avonmore Road has become home to Kensington Village, built in the 1880s. Whiteleys Furniture Depositories, laundry and stables in Westbourne Grove was London's first department store. The high-ceilinged Warwick Building was used as a depository for Whiteleys-sourced furnishings (grand pianos, chaise longues, oriental room dividers, mahogany wardrobes) for the use of those resident in the colonies. Kensington Village now consists of a blend of modernised Victorian buildings, such as the Warwick Building, and modern additions such as the Pembroke Building, built in a similar style with London stock brick and red lintels and full-height glazing.
West Kensington is also home to the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, the three St James Independent Schools, and St Paul's School for Girls, where Gustav Holst was once director of music. (Two of his works are entitled the Brook Green Suite and the St Paul's Suite.)
West Kensington is well served by public transport.West Kensington Station
, theDistrict line
branch (running between Kensington Olympia
-Kensington High Street
), Piccadilly line
from Barons Court/Earl's Court
, Circle and District line
from High Street Kensington
, Hammersmith & City line
from Hammersmith tube station
, and the Central line from Shepherd's Bush
and Holland Park
- Overground: The London Overground is available from Kensington (Olympia) station and Shepherd's Bush.
- Bus: Several Bus routes are available in the area including the 9, 10, 27, 28, 49, 391 and C1. Along Hammersmith Road, there are numerous buses linking the area to Paddington, Hammersmith, Chiswick, Notting Hill, Oxford Street, Aldwych, King's Cross and Trafalgar Square. The N9 bus also runs from Olympia to Heathrow via Isleworth and West Middlesex Hospital.
- Road: West Kensington is also close to the A4 (West Cromwell Road) with links to the West and Heathrow and High Street Kensington with links to the Central London/West End.
Nearest locations and places of interest
Blythe House has been used as a filming location for numerous films including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
In the film Trainspotting, the flat that Renton shows the young couple around when he gets the job as an estate agent and ultimately stashes Begbie and Sickboy in is 78A North End Road, opposite West Kensington tube station.
The Nashville Rooms, now the Famous Three Kings pub, hosted many rock and punk concerts in the 1970s and early 1980s. Joy Division, The Sex Pistols and The Police all played there regularly.
In Hanif Kureishi's novel The Buddha of Suburbia, the main character moves from the southern suburbs of London to West Kensington and lives by the Nashville. He witnesses one of the first presentations of a punk band, probably The Sex Pistols.
The flat featured in the 1969 BBC series 'Take Three Girls' was at 17 Glazbury Road.
Heather Graham and Mia Kirshner play upper-middle-class dilettantes from West Kensington in the 2008 movie Buy Borrow Steal.
The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea have resolved to grant outline planning permission for Sir Terry Farrell's Masterplan for the Earl's Court Project. As the Earls Court Project would bring considerable benefits to the area, it was recognised by the Mayor’s London Plan as an Opportunity Area in July 2011. The project, expected to span 15-20 years, would involve the redevelopment of the land around the Earl's Court Exhibition Centres and the West Kensington & Gibb's Green Estate. The proposals include the redevelopment and creation of four new village centres around North End Road, West Kensington, West Brompton and Earl's Court.