Askew Road over the centuries

In 1745 the area of North Fulham around Askew Road was farmland with just a few dwellings and a single path called Gaggle Goose Green running beside a tributary of the Stamford Brook.
By 1830 the track was known as Starch Green and a scattering of houses had been  built along side it.   Farms gave way to orchards and market gardens which supplied fresh produce to the ever expanding City of London some four miles to the east, the produce transported by horse and cart or boat on the nearby river Thames. Soft fruits such as strawberries would be taken on foot with women carrying the baskets on their heads.

Map of North Fulham, 1830

Map of North Fulham, 1830

London continued to expand westwards and the ever growing demand for building materials encouraged farmers to supplement their income with brick using the clay lying under the top soil.   Commercial enterprises flourished, often digging 12 feet down to obtain the clay and thereby creating many ponds and in one instance a lake on Star Field, the site now marked by a road of the same name.     Between 1870 and 1890 over 17 million bricks were produced and the Stamford Brook Brickfield, one of the largest covering over 50 acres at its peak, employed 250 men and boys.  Many households supplemented their income by taking in laundry from the more affluent Kensington residents and the area was known as ‘SoapSudIsland’.

The second half of the 19th century brought improvements in public transport and new tram and train services made the area attractive to clerks and other City workers and by 1893 affordable housing was rapidly covering the orchards and brickfield .  The road of Starch Green became Victoria Road before finally acquiring the surname of the wealthy Askew family who owned considerable land in the area.

Map of North Fulham, 1893

Map of North Fulham, 1893

By the turn of the twentieth century, Askew Road was a bustling shopping street with fishmongers, bakers, grocers, dairies  and butchers trading alongside boot makers, hairdressers, oilmen, drapers and tobacconists. A tram ran between Uxbridge and Goldhawk Roads and motor cars began to replace horses and carts.

Askew Road, 1900

Askew Road, 1900

Farmer J. Bates ‘The Noted Labouring Man’s Butcher’ had several shops in the road as well as a slaughtering establishment whilst Benjamin Hall ran a thriving rabbit breeding enterprise behind his shop. The Methodist church opened its doors, a school was established and post offices opened at both ends of the road. Meals could be obtained at eel and pie shops or more upmarket dining rooms and five pubs offered liquid refreshment.  The Sun was known as ‘a haunt of thick set men with gold sovereign rings and even thicker necks’ so it was hardly surprising that by 1880 a police station had also been built.

Farmer Bates

Farmer Bates

The road continued to thrive during the Twenties and Thirties but suffered considerable bomb damage during the Second World War with The Sun receiving a direct hit killing 27 locals drinking there. Trolley buses were replaced by double decker buses and the pond at Starch Green, a reminder of the brick building era, was filled in and is now a neatly mown green lawn. Modern delicatessens have replaced eel pie shops, rabbits are no longer bred in surrounding fields whilst milk now comes in plastic bottles from several  supermarkets rather than from a cow tethered nearby.  But the road continues to be a focal shopping and social meeting place for those who live in this popular area of Hammersmith.

Askew Road today

Askew Road today

by Caroline MacMillan, Local Studies volunteer

This entry was posted in Archives & local studies, Askew Road Library and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Askew Road over the centuries

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your research. I am researching my family history and it has brought me to Askew road. Between 1891 and 1901 my family theM Manns either worked or had a fishmongers in the road. Did you come across anything that could link to this in your research?

  2. Bill G says:

    My family lived in the ASKEW Road area since about 1835 came from Heston Working in Brickfields.I lived there from 1936 to 1957 Becklow have lots info on family

  3. Geraldine Moyle says:

    North Fulham? That’s Shepherd’s Bush, not so reliable local historian!

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