Handsome homes and a grand Victorian heritage
Tue 13 May 2014
Find mansion flats, cottages, family houses and new build in the home of Olympia and Queens Club tennis, says Anthea Masey.
Three great Victorian institutions are at the heart of West Kensington in west London The Queens Club, exclusive home of the pre-Wimbledon tennis tournament, Olympia Exhibition Centre, and Lamda, the countrys oldest drama school.
Olympias art deco Empire Hall in Hammersmith Road, now known as Olympia Central, was designed by architect Joseph Emberton in 1930 and is the exhibition complexs most visible face. However, Henry Edward Coes original exhibition hall, now called Olympia Grand, remains Olympias architectural gem. Home to the annual Horse of the Year Show, its elegant glass-and-steel barrel roof, 115ft high, was built in just 12 weeks in 1885. It carries over 85 tons of glass and covers nearly an acre.
The Queens Club, which opened in 1886, the same year as Olympia, claims to be the first multipurpose sports complex built anywhere in the world. Since 2007 it has been owned by its members and over the years has hosted football, rugby and cricket. Today its facilities are restricted to lawn tennis, real tennis, rackets and squash. This years Aegon Championships tennis tournament runs from June 9-15.
Lamda, one of Britains leading drama schools, started life in 1861 as the London Academy of Music. Former pupils include Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch, Rory Kinnear, Martin Shaw and David Suchet. Its president, acclaimed stage and screen actor Timothy West, 79, who recently made his Eastenders debut, is spearheading an 18.4 million redevelopment of the Talgarth Road campus.
WHAT THERE IS TO BUY
West Kensington is dominated by large mansion flat blocks, with the most impressive examples in the Fitzgeorge & Fitzjames conservation area. Built in 1897 they were described at the time as the "grandest of the West Kensington mansion flats, with lifts and separate servants quarters". These spacious homes now sell for as much as 1,000 a square foot. The most expensive apartment for sale in West Kensington now is a four-bedroom, 2,820sq ft property in Fitzgeorge Avenue, on the market for 2.65 million (homesandproperty.co.uk/westkenfitz).
There are large Victorian terrace houses in the Ginter Estate conservation area north of Talgarth Road, developed by brothers James and Robert Gunter, whose family built large areas of South Kensington and Chelsea. Most have been divided into flats, but there are a number of Dutch gable houses in Gunterstone Road. One of them, with seven bedrooms and in need of refurbishment, ins on the market for 2.35 million (homesandproperty.co.uk/westkengunt).
North of Hammersmtih Road in the Brook Green area there is a real mix. Youll find large Victorian terrace houses mostly converted into flats along Sinclair Road; large family houses on the green and the surrounding roads; two- and three-bedroom cottages in the Misbro Road area that sell for between 900,000 and 1.73 million, and modern flats in the Kensington West development in Blythe Road. The most expensive house for sale in West Kensington is a large, unmodernised, 3,576sq ft property in Sinclair Road with a pretty fi8ligree canopy above the impressive portico, on the market for 4 million (homesandproperty.co.uk/westkensinc).
The most expensive family house in the Brook Green area currently for sale is in Applegarth Road. The four-storey Victorian home has five bedrooms, a pretty conservatory and a paved back garden, and is on the market at 2.4 million (homesandproperty.co.uk/westkenapple).
The area attracts: estate agent Justin Holder from the local branch of Marsh & Parsons says the West Kensington mansion flats attract buyers who cant afford something similar in Kensington or Chelsea. They are popular with people from European countries who prefer flat living, such as French and Italian buyers, but there is also interest from Russians and Chinese. The Brook Green area, with its many schools, is popular with young families.
Staying power: there is a lot of local movement especially within Brook Green, with people trading up from flats and cottages to houses and vice versa, although Holder admits there is a drift to slightly cheaper areas such as Shepherds Bush when families find they cant afford to trade up to a bigger house.
With the exception of Brook Green itself where there is a popular childrens playground, West Kensington has a shortage of green spaces. The nearest parks of any size are Ravenscourt Park in Hammersmith, and Holland Park.
LEISURE AND THE ARTS
The Barons Court Theatre is a fringe venue in the basement of the Curtains Up pub in Comeragh Road. The Pyric Theatre and the Riverside Studios are in nearby Hammersmith, and the Bush Theatre is in Shepherd;s Bush. There are cinemas in Kensington High Street, Shepherds Bush and Hammersmith. Local health facilities include a swimming pool at the 37 Degrees private gym in Beaconsfield Terrace Road, and the nearest council-owned pool is the Fulham Pools in Normand Park.
Travel: the areas Tube stations are West Kensington, Kensington Olympia and Barons Court. All three are on the District line, and the Picadilly line stops at Barons Court. In addition, West Kensington is on the Overground service with trains between Willesden Junction and Clapham Junction. All stations are in Zone 2 and an annual travelcard costs 1,472.
Council: Hammersmith & Fulham council is Conservative-controlled, and Band D council tax for the 2014/2015 year stands at 1,034.16.