Category Archives: London Area Guides

Belgravia

A London village; Belgravia

Where is Belgravia?

Belgravia is a clearly-defined area of Central London. Unlike many London districts which have rather vague borders – such as Hampstead Village – Belgravia has established borders on four sides. They are Sloane Street and Buckingham Palace Road to the west and east, and Knightsbridge and Pimlico Road to the north and south. It is thus a regular shape, with Hyde Park Corner at the north east, and Sloane Square to the south west. It is obvious from these landmarks that this is a desirably central location.

Local History

Belgravia takes its name from Belgrave Square, which lies in its northern half. The square was named in honour of Viscount Belgrave, better known as the Duke of Westminster, a major London landowner. The land was developed in the early 19th century by Richard Grosvenor, the 2nd Marquess of Westminster, and much of the property in Belgravia is still owned by the Grosvenor estate.

Getting to Belgravia

Travel links could scarcely be better than those in this part of London. Victoria Station lies at its corner, with trains to Southern England and an express service to Gatwick Airport. There are underground stations at Knightsbridge, Hyde Park Corner, and Sloane Square, as well as Victoria. Victoria Coach Station is London’s principal terminus for long-distance bus services, and there are also numerous local bus routes. Road access to the west and north of London is simple, with the M4 and M40 motorways within reach.

Belgravia’s famous residents

Astonishing numbers of famous and important people have been associated with this area, including Prime Ministers such as Margaret Thatcher, Neville Chamberlain, and Stanley Baldwin, writers Ian Fleming, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Mary Shelley, and composers including Frederic Chopin and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, or more recently, Andrew Lloyd Webber. Actors whose successful careers have enabled them to make Belgravia their home have included Sir Sean Connery and Sir Roger Moore.

Belgravia life

The majority of Belgravia looks much as it did in the nineteenth century. Because the Grosvenor Estate is still the major property-owner, there have been restrictions on the uses to which the buildings could be put, and most are either occupied by diplomats or professional associations, or are still private homes. Elizabeth Street and Motcomb Street have small and exclusive shops and restaurants, but otherwise Belgravia’s streets are quiet and tranquil. However, there is easy access to world-class shopping in neighbouring Sloane Street and Knightsbridge.

Public gardens in Belgravia

There are no public parks in Belgravia, but many of the houses share quiet garden squares, and residents can walk to nearby Hyde Park to the north, Green Park to the east, and Ranelagh Gardens in the south west.

A special place

Belgravia is a peaceful, beautiful village a few minutes away from the bustle of the city, which for several centuries has been at the heart of fashionable London.

Image credit – Geograph

Battersea Development

A History of Development in Battersea

It is thought the name of Battersea (in medieval times Batricheseie, Batricesege or variants) is likely to refer to the gravel ‘island’ adjacent to the Thames where the church, manor house and arable field lay. The manor of Battersea belonged to the crown in 1066, but William the Conqueror gave it to Westminster Abbey after the conquest. It was then one of the principal manors supporting monks in the area.

In 1540, when the dissolution of the monasteries took place, the manor reverted to crown ownership and was eventually purchased by the St John family. Towards the end of the eighteenth century it became property of the Spencer family, and remains their property to this day.

From the seventeenth to nineteenth century, Battersea was well known for supplying vegetables, fruit and flowers to the London markets, and also plants to colonies in America. The village itself was next to the river, near the church, with some industry along the riverside.

The construction of railways in Victorian England resulted in a population increase from 6,617 in 1841 to 168,907 in 1901, at which time it was a Metropolitan Borough. A lot of open land was taken by four railway companies, and riverside areas were replaced by new industries, including Prices Candles, Morgan’s Crucible works, Garton’s Glucose factory, flour mills, breweries and the Nine Elms Gas Works. It was then decided that Battersea Park should be created just in time to save Thames-side Battersea from being totally overwhelmed by industry.

Better quality suburban housing was built along Battersea Rise and beyond after 1870. Nevertheless, conditions in the north of the parish remained impoverished. Until the Second World War bombing which destroyed much of the riverside property, Battersea remained relatively unchanged for more than 50 years.

After the Second World War, much of the area was re-developed in a very large scale municipal rebuilding plan. Simultaneously, industries on the riverside, west of Albert Bridge began to relocate or close down, with housing taking its place, including high rise apartment blocks, such as the Trade Tower on Plantation Wharf, with the intention of appealing to young professionals.

The Royal College of Arts expansion in Battersea has attracted media and fashion based industries to the area, as well as the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station, in addition to the reinvention of Nine Elms, where the new United States embassy will be located. Consequently, property prices in Battersea have started to compete with those across the river in Kensington and Chelsea.

Deprivation still exists in a number of estates such as Winstanley, Doddington and Patmore, along with an increasing demand for cheaper social housing, especially for families. However, there is little indication that this demand will be fulfilled any time soon. With the opening of the over ground line from Clapham Junction to Surrey Quays, transport links have improved, and the station is gradually being refurbished. There remains a great deal to do, although there are many signs that positive change is forthcoming in the future.

wimbledon

Wimbledon and SW London postcodes

The South West postcode area also referred to as London SW area is a collection of postcode districts covering some parts of southwest London in England. The area begins from Battersea (SW11-SW20) and South Western (SW1-SW10) districts of London post town.

SW1 was initially the head district of South Western. Its density development is high and recently been divided into smaller districts. Apart from mail sorting, the smaller districts are used for other purposes like on street signs and geographic reference; the SW1 subdivisions classed further as one ‘district’. Within the South Western postcode district there are other distinctive postcode units.

Postcode area began in the year 1857 as the South West district. It gained part of the abolished S district area in 1868, while the rest went to SE. It was subdivided into several districts in 1917. The SW district comprises of postcode districts from 1-10 and the Battersea district comprises of postcode districts 11-20. South-west 95 is a non-geographic postcode district which was used by the section for work and Pensions. The postcode area belongs to the London post town and it does not require dependent localities.

The SW postcode area comprises postcode districts on each sides of River Thames. The South west 1 postcode district covers the central London area on River Thames north bank, approximately between Chelsea Bridge and Hungerford Bridge. This includes Belgravia, Pimlico, and parts of Brompton and Westminster. It contains Westminster Abbey, Whitehall, Westminster School, Dolphin Square, the Tate Gallery and Thames House. SW 2-10 forms the internal northeastern part of the area with SW 3, 5, 6, 7 and 10 districts north of River Thames.

SW 11-20 is completely south of the River Thames and forms the outer part of southwestern postcode area. The postcode district encompasses every part of London Borough of Wandsworth, the western part of London Borough of Lambeth, southern parts of Westminster City, the Royal Borough of Chelsea and Kensington, the south-eastern part of Hammersmith and Fulham’s London Borough, the north-eastern location of Richmond’s London Borough upon Thames and northern parts of London Borough of Croydon and Merton.

The SW Area encompasses Merton, Colliers, Wood and Wimbledon. People have lived in Wimbledon since, at the minimum, the Iron Age period when it is thought the hill fort found on Wimbledon Common was established. In the year 1807, Wimbledon was also a part of manor of Mortlake, the year when Domesday Book was compiled.

The manor of Wimbledon ownership altered between many wealthy households several times during its history, and it also attracted other rich families that established big houses like Warren, Wimbledon and Eagle House. The village progressed with a steady rural population that coexisted alongside rich traders from the city and nobility.

In 18th century, the Fox and Dog public house was established as a stop on stagecoach run from to Portsmouth from London. In 1838, London and South Western Railway established a station to the SE of the village, at the foot of Wimbledon hill. The location of the station changed the spotlight of the town’s later development away from its original village centre.