About West Hampstead
West Hampstead – it’s only the damn finest place this side of… well, it’s jolly nice.
Young and vibrant
“Greater Whamp”, as I (and only I) like to call it, stretches from Belsize Road to Hampstead Cemetery and from Kilburn High Road to Finchley Road. It has a population of 33,000 and growing. That population is skewed towards young people (there are twice as many people under 40 as over 40) with a high proportion of young professionals attracted by the good transport links. The sizeable established population is concentrated in the north, around Fortune Green.
Locals are wont to moan about chain stores moving in and there has been a recent influx of “multiples”, most notably the three big coffee chains, and micro-formats of Sainburys’ and Tesco. A Little Waitrose is imminent. But look at the high street – West End Lane – more closely and independent businesses thrive, albeit cafés, restaurants, estate agents, and haidressers rather than very many useful shops. We are blessed with one of the great independent bookshops, West End Lane Books, and long may it thrive. There’s also a weekly farmers’ market on Saturdays, which has proved very popular.
West Hampstead is definitely lively in the evenings, but it’s also safe and it’s not an all-night party district. The bars kick out at midnight or 1am later in the week and there are a couple of nightclubs, but most locals are tucked up in bed well before then. Do check out all the latest news on shops and restaurants.
A transport hub
West Hampstead’s excellent transport links, unrivalled anywhere in north-west London (and arguably anywhere in the capital), make it an attractive place from which to commute: Canary Wharf is 25 minutes away on the Jubilee Line, the City is easily accessible via Thameslink and the Metropolitan Line, the Overground links us to Richmond to the west and Stratford to the east, and Luton and Gatwick airports are both on direct train routes. Throw in a bus that runs through the heart of London, another that connects us to major hospitals and a third that takes us to Golders Green or Kensington and Chelsea and West Hampstead really is a hub. We regularly cover transport and travel news. Follow the #whamptravel tag on Twitter for real-time travel updates.
An area of growth
With a pleasant high street and excellent transport links, it’s no wonder then that property prices have risen and risen. All that railway land means West Hampstead has also been earmarked as an area for intensification by City Hall. What does this mean? At least 800 new homes (in reality, 1,000) over the next few years. The largest single scheme – West Hampstead Square – is being built, a few other smaller developments are also in advanced stages and 156 West End Lane (the “Travis Perkins” site) will contribute a sizeable share of these flats once it is redeveloped.
The car park that links Homebase and the O2 centre is the final piece of the jigsaw and will be a major development although it is very early days for this.
The West Hampstead Neighbourhood Development Forum was set up to give locals some say in how development would occur. It has spent a couple of years finalising its Neighbourhood Development Plan, which will be voted on in a local referendum in the summer of 2015. We offer extensive coverage of all the latest planning and development news and have regular updates on property sales and rental markets.
West Hampstead means business
The growth in the area should be good for local businesses, but it is also likely to mean more competition. The West Hampstead Business Association is a collective group that promotes and improves both the physical and business landscape of the area. Its ultimate goal is to encourage more people to spend more money here, in order to retain and develop West Hampstead’s economy. For more information, including how to join, go to the WHBA website. West Hampstead Life is a member of the WHBA, and of course also covers local business news.
West Hampstead and Fortune Green was a Lib Dem stronghold up until the 2014 local elections when all but one of the Lib Dem’s six councillors were voted out and replaced by Labour councillors. Kilburn is a Labour ward and Swiss Cottage is Conservative. In the 2015 general election, Labour’s Tulip Siddiq took over from retiring Glenda Jackson as MP for Hampstead & Kilburn, extending Labour’s majority from 42 to 1,138. The seat had been the tightest three-way marginal in the country but the Lib Dem vote collapsed in H&K as elsewhere. We regularly cover politics news, and held hustings for both the local and general elections.
West Hampstead has three primary schools: Beckford, Emmanuel and Kingsgate. There is only one state secondary school; Hampstead School sits right on the far northwest edge of the area virtually in Cricklewood. Education became a hot topic in 2013 with parents from Emmanuel School launching a campaign for a new free school. The application was rejected by the Department for Education. In 2015, Camden council agreed to the expansion of Kingsgate Primary school, opening a new site in Liddell Road on the site of what is today an industrial estate, paid for by building flats on the same site. No suprise then, that education news stories are among some of the most read on the site.
People think it’s hilarious to say it’s really just East Kilburn. How we chuckle. Then we send them packing with a flea in their ear and a copy of one of the local history books. It’s true that the borders between Kilburn and West Hampstead have blurred over the years, but they developed as separate places – Kilburn is much older, as most people know the Kilburn High Road is the old Watling Street – a Roman road no less.
West Hampstead was originally “West End” and grew up around West End Green. It was only with the arrival of the Metropolitan Line in the early part of the 20th century that it was renamed West Hampstead in order to avoid confusion with “the” West End.
Over the following years, the various estates that made up what is West Hampstead today were built on and the area was born. For a more detailed history, read this, and for regular articles about local history, head here.
It’s well known that West Hampstead has its fair share of celebrity residents – Emma Thompson perhaps being the most famous since Stephen Fry moved away a few years ago. The area has always attracted creative types – actors, writers, musicians – rather than the footballers. Most locals don’t bat an eyelid when then bump into Imelda Staunton in the farmers’ market, see Robert Webb in The Alice House, or hold the door open for Bill Nighy at the bookshop. It’s all part and parcel of what makes West Hampstead such a great place to live.
Hello. Today’s final “What have you missed…” comes from both Mark and Jonathan. Why? Sadly, this is the end. WHL has been going for nine years, but all good things etc. etc. We explain all (including what’s happening to the mailing list – don’t worry, we’re not selling your data!) We’ll both be at a […]
The local elections are on May 3rd. This is when you get the chance (and “you” includes EU citizens) to vote for three councillors for the ward you live in. All the ward councillors who are elected form Camden council (or Brent council for those of you the other side of the Kilburn High Road). […]
Liddell Road – a school, some office space and apartments. It was a controversial scheme when it went through planning a few years ago, with Camden acting as developer and approver. There was much talk of how the numbers added up and why there was to be virtually no affordable housing. Three years on, some […]
Finally it was my time to sample Ham, the new upmarket restaurant on West End Lane, which arrived to plenty of interest, and with a chef with a reputation. Ham kindly invited me to try it out and the welcome from David and the team was very warm. We gazed around at the interior, with […]
Actor George Rose travelled an unusual path from Bicester to Broadway. He lived in West Hampstead for the best part of a decade while he learned his craft from great actors and directors such as Tyrone Guthrie, Laurence Olivier, Peter Brook and John Gielgud. And after a very successful career on the stage, he died […]
In April 1977, Tony Drayton moved to London from Cumbernauld, a new town in Scotland between Glasgow and Edinburgh. From 1976 to 1979, Tony was the editor of the early punk zine, Ripped and Torn. He lived in London, Paris, and Amsterdam and had a very varied career, including fire eating. In the summer of […]
One of the pleasures of writing West Hampstead Life is writing these Insights during which we get to know some familiar West Hampstead faces a bit better, behind the facade even. This month’s is no exception as we caught up with Ellias from David’s Deli. We all know him as Ellias, in fact his full […]
Seaching for a present for your mother (or the mother of your kids, or whoever you want to express your gratitude to)? We have been searching the snowy streets of West Hampstead for inspiration (and bagged you a couple of discounts along the way!) First stop, a WHL favourite, Achillea Flowers on Mill Lane. It […]
Regular readers will know that West Hampstead nightclub Lately has closed after almost 40 years. We met up with owner Gordon Stevenson. What brought you to West Hampstead? “Buying Lately, that’s what! I opened it 38 years ago after I was offered the club by a friend. Previously it was a called Vincent’s but had […]
The new owner of the student housing block on Blackburn Road, has put in a planning application to add 41 additional rooms (studios) to the block buy adding extra floors on top. The development already has 347 units and has already been given planning permission to add an extension to the internal courtyard and a […]
Following our recent walk down the Kilburn High Road, we took a similar walk up West End Lane. Joining us was John Saynor, chair of WHAT (West Hampstead Amenity and Transport), which takes a keen interest in these matters too. We didn’t really focus on the litter situation, because – dare I say it – […]
West Hampstead is facing yet another large-scale property development. It’s the third proposal to redevelop the site at the former Gondar Gardens reservoir. The history of the previous proposals have been well documented on these pages, but what really caught our eye about this one was that it offers no affordable housing either on-site or as […]
It’s getting hard to miss but the local elections are coming soon. West Hampstead ward looks set to see three new faces as none of the existing councillors are standing again – or rather we know two are not and one hasn’t returned any of our messages. In 2014, Labour took a clean sweep of […]
Last night Camden accepted the recommendation that council tax bills will rise, a decision that will be ratified at full Council on the 26th. For the second year running, it will rise by 4.99%, an increase comprised of a 2.99% council-tax increase and an ‘Adult Social Care’ precept of 2%’. Average Camden band D council tax […]
Cllr Georgia Gould, the relatively new leader of Camden Council, was out and about in West Hampstead this week. She’s visiting each ward across the borough specifically to meet the groups that make Camden tick. She was in our ‘hood with Cllr Phil Rosenberg visiting the Sherriff Centre, which impressed her. “It’s unbelievable. I’ve never […]
Sponsored post Every week newspaper headlines vary between ‘house prices rise’ or ‘house prices fall’ – but which headline is accurate? We thought we’d delve behind the headlines for this month’s West Hampstead Life column; we’ll be sharing some interesting stats and sprinkling them with some local insight to bring them to life. First-time buyers […]
Sponsored post It can be easy to generalise when talking about the London property market. However, London has often been described as a collection of villages, each with its own unique style, atmosphere and charms. For this reason, when discussing the London property market, it’s important not to look at the capital as the sum […]
Sponsored post As we move into 2018, there are signs that the property market in West Hampstead is improving. Despite what others may say, there is evidence of a market out there for those looking to sell their home. With changes to stamp duty in the autumn statement and the hesitation caused by Brexit beginning […]
The Kitchen Table is changing hands. It had been up for sale for a while, and the owners Jennie Vincent and Tom Leslie found a buyer a few months ago (after an earlier offer fell through). However, it has taken a long time to finally dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s (or teas). The Kitchen […]
Sponsored post Forget everything you know about fitness studios – the revolution is coming – and the first in line can get a fantastic pre-opening offer. For the team behind Studio Society, a brand new next-generation fitness studio, there was no other place to launch than West Hampstead which has a tendency to favour specialist […]
This month West Hampstead says farewell to Ladudu, the rather good Vietnamese restaurant by the stations. We will be sad to see it go but, as you will find out, when one door closes another one opens (in fact two). Teresa considers herself a West Hampstead local as she lives in the area – it’s her […]
The Beast from the East Arrived. West Hampstead got photographing. It all kicked off on Monday with the first flakes of snow. It’s chilly out there people of #westhampstead. Wrap up warm. pic.twitter.com/7p9s1UaT5o — West Hampstead Life (@WHampsteadLife) February 26, 2018 And we woke on Wednesday to this… Good morning #WestHampstead @WHampstead ?????? #snowday #BeastfromEast […]
At midday on a quiet Monday, Sumatra Road was shaken (literally) when the walls collapsed on a house undergoing renovation. At the time of the collapse, first tweeted by Chris Simpson, there were builders in the house, 163 Sumatra Road, but they saw ‘the writing on the wall’ when large cracks appeared and were able to […]
There have been rumours that Camden was changing the rules on taking dogs into the cemetery, a popular walking spot for local dog-owners, but there had been nothing concrete. So WHL thought it would ‘doggedly’ investigate the issue. It appears that a change was indeed added to a piece of legislation introduced last February – […]
Liddell Road has a new name. After much careful thought and consideration it has been renamed, wait for it…, “Liddell Place”. Someone suggested an alternative, but for some reason Camden didn’t like it. Where’s Liddell Road? It’s the former council-owned light industrial estate just off Maygrove Road that’s being redeveloped to house an infants school […]
Sponsored post Today’s economy is properly digital. Many of us spend all day at a computer and then come home to order groceries online, chat with friends online and research a good plumber online. It takes a huge amount of infrastructure to keep all those businesses ticking and to keep improving them as our expectations […]
Camden Council has announced plans to implement a temporary road closure near a primary school in West Hampstead, angering many local residents. There are public meetings to discuss the proposals this Thursday. The affected area is around Beckford School on Dornfell Street. Camden’s proposal is to close Broomsleigh Street at the Mill Lane end at […]
New Year, new round-up of West Hampstead’s fitness and gym options (would you believe, this is our most popular article year in, year out). Most of you will already know about the main local gyms to help you shed those post-Christmas pounds (or kilos): Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre, Virgin Active at the O2 and the […]
Sponsored post As 37 Fortune Green Road – aka Studio Society – nears the end of its 8-week build, this 8,000sqft empty space has been transformed into state-of-the-art group exercise studios. As the physical build draws to a close, the technicians are now taking control, installing multiple projectors and creating a floor-to-ceiling cinematic visual experience […]
Kids are in their element when playing sport. Running around with their teammates, safety is often an afterthought in the excitement of a live game. Parents have to be especially vigilant when their kids are playing contact sports, and though children’s orthodontics may not be at the front of many parents’ minds, thinking about it […]