West Hampstead overview
What’s it all about?
To live in West Hampstead is to be part of a thriving and friendly community. Many who choose to make their home here remain for decades, so the high street that dominates the area is not merely a great collection of boutiques, restaurants and cafes but also acts as a social hub. In fact, locals are so attached to their North West London enclave and its village vibe that they organise regular community meetings open to all. As a location flanked by Hampstead, Swiss Cottage and Kilburn, West Hampstead allows residents to borrow the best of their neighbours’ amenities. Hampstead Heath is a short walk away, as are the shops, cinemas and leisure complexes of Swiss Cottage and Finchley Road. The three train stations on West End Lane provide easy routes both across London and as far as Brighton. City professionals, young couples and families are drawn to its West Hampstead’s vibrant cafe culture and impressive architecture. Neighbouring Hampstead Village, with its hilly lanes, alleyways and streets full of independent shops, boutiques and cosy pubs, is a country like getaway in the heart of the city.
- From as early as the start of the 16th century until the railway arrived at the end of the 18th century, West Hampstead was known as West End. When the railway station on West End Lane was built it was named West Hampstead to avoid confusion with the ‘other’ West End in Central London’s theatre district.
- The area’s listed fire station opened in 1901 and is still in operation today.
- Singer Dusty Springfield was born in West Hampstead in 1939.
Architecture and property
Until the arrival of three railway lines, just south of the village, this was a hamlet so quiet that residents claimed to have heard the guns of Waterloo. The 15 years following 1879 was the most intensive period of building in the area, and striking Victorian red brick homes and impressive mansion blocks line the neighbourhood’s streets. Most are terraced, but some of the big detached homes that predate the railways remain. Art Deco influences can be seen in several properties, while contemporary architecture is appearing more and more frequently. Handsome townhouses, many of which have been converted into apartments, predominate.
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From opportunities to explore the nearby heath to dining in a range of superb restaurants and enjoying its vibrant nightlife, West Hampstead offers the best of country and city living.
Eating out: The Wet Fish Cafe is a local institution, both for its excellent food, popular music and arts events. Don’t leave without trying one of its delicious cocktails.
Theatre: The Tricycle Theatre on nearby Kilburn High Road regularly puts on fantastic performances that reflect the diversity of local cultures – performances range from Lionboy, a tale that fuses storytelling with circus, to Bach by Candlelight.
Relaxation: This is a place where your children may afford you the best social life – there’s a vibrant coffee shop scene with parents pushing prams jostling for space with writers, actors and other freelancers who call this part of town home. The bagels at Roni's Bagel Bakery are second to none and it’s a favourite place to take children for an after school treat. West End Lane Books entertains children with storytime sessions twice a week.
- The O2 Centre on Finchley Road has a number of eating and shopping options, as well as a cinema and a Virgin Active gym with swimming pool.
- The West Hampstead Library on Dennington Park Road hosts regular events for families and children as well as talks by authors and academics.
- The Farmers’ Market at West Hampstead Thameslink station has been running every Saturday since 2012 and is always busy.
- West End Lane is awash with independent boutiques, charity stores and popular clothes shops, and La Boutique Secret is one of the best with its range of handpicked designs.
- After its success in Hampstead village, The Hampstead Butcher & Providore has now opened its doors in West Hampstead. It sells an extensive selection of free range, ethically reared meats, as well as cheeses, wine and larder essentials.
There’s certainly plenty of it about: Kilburn Grange Park boasts a children’s playground, three tennis courts and a floodlit games area with changing rooms. Queen’s Park is a well loved green space with six tennis courts, a 9 hole pitch and putt course, a cafe and even a small zoo. The vast expanse of Hampstead Heath is an ideal location for long walks, and the three natural swimming ponds are popular with locals. Fortune Green is a nearby park that annually appoints an artist in residence to depict the wildlife on the green. Gladstone Park’s 97 acres is home to an art gallery, cafe and sports facilities.
Property development is becoming more and more ambitious in West Hampstead, and proposals like the one for an 11 storey building at Liddell Road are not uncommon. This map plots all the major developments taking place in the area.
Tube: West Hampstead Tube station in Zone 2 is on the Jubilee Line, and a journey to Bond Street takes just nine minutes. Overground trains regularly depart for Richmond, Stratford and Clapham Junction.
Rail: Trains run from West Hampstead Thameslink station to St Pancras, South London and Brighton.
Buses: There are buses that travel south into the city, including the 139 (to Waterloo) and the 189 (to Oxford Circus), both of which are 24 hour services. The 328 (to Chelsea) and the C11 (to Archway) pass through West Hampstead.
Cycle: It’s an easy 30 minute pedal to Oxford Street, but uphill on the way back.
West Hampstead has 23 primary schools, seven secondary schools and three sixth form colleges, and there are plans afoot for Camden Council to expand some of the existing primary schools to provide more places. An application has also gone in to form a new free school, West Hampstead International School, which if approved will provide 1,600 places across primary and secondary age groups.
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