What’s it all about?
In Victorian times Battersea was considered so unpopular as a location that its station was named Clapham Junction, with planners hoping it might acquire some of the desirability of its neighbour. To this day Clapham Junction station sits squarely and somewhat confusingly in the centre of Battersea, but the profile of the area couldn't be more different. Now heralded as one of London’s most popular neighbor hoods and known for its great community spirit, the area’s particular draw for young families has earned it the nickname ‘Nappy Valley’. Battersea is also abuzz with young professionals, attracted here by the proximity to central London, the cafe and restaurant culture and the shopping amenities. Whether milling around Northcote Road Market or simply enjoying the green spaces, life in Battersea ticks along at a happy, upbeat pace. With so many attractions on the doorstep, excellent transport links and one of the lowest rates of council tax in London, it’s no wonder that house hunters are turning their attention to Battersea.
Clapham Junction railway station is Britain’s busiest – some 2,000 trains pass through every day. Before the Industrial Revolution, much of the large parish was farmland, with particular specialisms, such as lavender bushes on Lavender Hill. In 1904 the National Anti Vivisection Society erected a drinking fountain in Latchmere Recreational Grounds commemorating the life of a dog killed after being used in experiments by students at University College London. It became a site for clashes between medical students and anti vivisectionists until its removal in 1910. A new statue, Brown Dog by Nicola Hicks, was installed in Battersea Park in 1985.
Architecture and property
By the late 19th century Battersea had developed into a major town and railway centre. The effect of this was that a population of 6,000 in 1840 had increased to 168,000 by 1910 and, except three parks, farmland was built over for railway sheds and tracts of housing. The creation of Battersea Park by the Crown in the mid 19th century also marked a turning point for the area when housing was built in the south and west. The peak of building here came in the 1880s and 1890s, with the construction of Queen Anne style houses, mansion blocks and cottages.
In the south of the area, the streets surrounding Northcote Road have well preserved Victorian terraces. There remains a wealth of period conversions in Battersea, and a selection of complete Edwardian homes and Victorian villas, as well as a stock of ex local authority flats and terraces. Battersea Square offers a stock of mansion blocks and riverside apartments.
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Eating: Northcote Road is where many head on a local night out, with the Italian family run Numero Uno a steadfast choice, alongside charming sherry and tapas restaurant and bar Rosita & the Sherry Bar and popular gastropub Bolingbroke. For a British steak house combined with a delightfully old fashioned gin palace, head for The Lost Angel. Gordon Ramsay’s London House venture on Battersea Square offers classic European cuisine in an intimate venue, or pop into the Power Station Wine Bar and Restaurant for a pint of real ale and modern Greek cooking. Franco Manco Sourdough Pizza located on Northcote Road, Battesea is also popular with locals in and around the area.
Drinking: One of the oldest venues in the area is The Four Thieves, which has regular comedy, music and quiz nights. The Northcote has a quirky interior and offers some more unusual evenings, with themes such as chocolate making, board games and gin tasting. If beer is your priority, you’ll find an excellent selection at The Draft House.
Theatre: Battersea Arts Centre took over the Town Hall in 1979 and has been providing theatre, art, comedy, music, kids’ clubs and more ever since.
Music: The Clapham Grand, an ex music hall, is known for its live music, but also runs club and comedy nights, as well as book slams where authors read extracts from their books. The Battersea Barge is a floating venue offering everything from disco nights to cabaret shows and is also available to hire.
- Battersea is well served for independent boutiques, especially around Northcote Road and Lavender Hill. Browse for clothing ideas at Fabrics Galore or pick up something for the house from Braemar Antiques. The Hive Honey Shop has all manner of honey related products and can offer advice to budding beekeepers.
- Not to be missed is Northcote Road Market, which has stalls selling everything from fruit and veg, meat, cheese and flowers, to antiques, clothes and art.
- Northcote Road is known for its chi chi children’s boutiques, including Trotters and JoJo Maman Bébé.
- Department stores are also present, with Debenhams and Marks & Spencer stores near the railway station. Grocery shopping is taken care of by a 24 hour Asda superstore, a large Waitrose and Sainsbury’s Local.
- Latchmere Leisure Centre offers a swimming pool, gym and creche, and Battersea Sports Centre has an indoor sports hall for badminton, netball and basketball, as well as outdoor courts.
- The Lavender Print School has a range of courses for adults and children in print techniques and bookbinding.
- Battersea Library has a wide range of books available, as well as a study space and activities for kids.
Battersea, particularly the south end of the area, is often referred to as ‘between the commons’. Clapham Common provides ponds, skate park, running track and bowling green, and borders the area to the west, while Wandsworth Common to the east is slightly smaller and offers a nature centre, as well as tennis courts and a cafe. To the north lies Battersea Park, which is a day out in itself, with a children’s zoo, boating lake, sports pitches and many acres of nature trails to explore on foot or on one of the recumbent bikes that can be hired for use in the park.
Battersea on the river
Heavily bombed during World War II, the damage in Battersea led to a large part of the industrial riverside area being swept away. At the same time the industries west of Albert Bridge began to close or relocate. Over the past twenty years, the remains of Battersea’s industrial waterfront have been transformed. The riverbank from Albert Bridge to Wandsworth Bridge now boasts apartment complexes, public walkways, restaurants, bars, and the emerging ‘diplomatic quarter’, with work on the American and Dutch embassies well under way.
Find out more about the perks of living on the river here.
Wandsworth Council is looking to invest million of pounds on the Winstanley and York Road estates to the south of the area. After years of false starts the Battersea Power Station development will transform the district east of Battersea Park. The development will provide 3,400 new homes, a park and a new high street. The extension to the Northern Line is due to open in 2020.
Rail: Clapham Junction has trains to locations both within and outside London, including Brighton and other south coast destinations. Services take just ten minutes to Waterloo or seven minutes to Victoria. The Overground network provides links across West London, South London, Docklands, East London and Highbury and Islington. Trains from Battersea Park reach Victoria in five minutes and Queenstown Road trains get to Waterloo in seven minutes.
Tube: The Northern Line extension is forecast to see new Tube stations opening at Battersea and Nine Elms by 2020.
Bus: The area is well served by the bus network with route 19 to Finsbury Park, 37 and 39 running to Putney, 77 to Waterloo, 87 to Aldwych, 156 to Vauxhall, 44 and 170 to Victoria, 137 to Oxford Circus, 156 to Wimbledon, 319 to Sloane Square, 337 to Richmond, 345 to South Kensington and 452 to Kensal Rise.
Cycle: Luciano Cycles sells bikes, as well as offering repairs and servicing, and Everyone Bikes specialises in cycles and clothing for women. There are half a dozen Santander Cycles docking stations aross the area.
Helicopter: Whether for business or pleasure, the excitement of helicopter travel is hard to beat. The London Heliport is based in Battersea and can make all the arrangements necessary, whatever type of trip you’re looking for.
Getting away: City Airport is 45 minutes away by road, while Gatwick Airport is about an hour by road, but 30 minutes by train.
Battersea has a large number of schools within its borders. There are 12 primaries, which are a mixture of state and independent, including Belleville Primary, Honeywell Infants and Juniors and the Catholic Sacred Heart Primary. The independent L’Ecole du Parc offers a French educational programme for one to five year old children. For older children, there is a choice of eight independent schools, as well as two state secondaries.
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