Hammersmith: A walk down memory lane

I graduated during the recession of the 1990s. There were no jobs for people with a 2:1 in Mickey Mouse studies Broadcast Journalism. So I worked in McDonalds in Nottingham for two years, until I eventually got a job. As a press officer. In London. Somewhere I never wanted to work. My job was based in the not-very-fashionable area of Hammersmith and I lived on the outskirts of Hammersmith (OK, it was Shepherds Bush) for nearly two years.

I quite liked Hammersmith. Viewed in isolation, it was just like a medium-sized town, with only a few clues that you were actually part of the huge city that is London. I walked to work every day and I was pretty happy there.

When we went to see the Got To Dance live semi-final, we stayed in Hammersmith. Travelling into that part of London I was reminded of places names I’d entirely forgotten – places like Ravenscourt Park and Goldhawk Road. They brought that long-forgotten time back to me. I wanted to show the kids around, but I knew I wouldn’t have time.

So I took advantage of my ridiculously early waking and went for a walk down memory lane at 6.20am.

First I headed for my old flat. Suddenly the road names came back to me – Studland Street and Dalling Road. I followed them until I saw the pub we used to go to on a Saturday evening, very close to my flat. But my road looked different. Sure, it would have changed a bit, but where was my flat? I was lost. I’d gone up the wrong road. The pub was on a corner and it had confused me. I walked that route every day for 18 months, I couldn’t believe I would get lost! I retraced my steps and found my flat. Still looking exactly the same.

PicMonkey hammersmithCollage

Then I walked back into Hammersmith. The Virgin cinema was now a Cineworld, but the Thai cafe we used to eat in still looked exactly the same. Much of King Street (the main shopping street in Hammersmith) looked the same too. I headed for Hammersmith bridge and found cars and buses travelling across it. In ‘my day’ the bridge was closed to traffic. Riverside Studios, where they filmed TFI Friday a stone’s throw from my office was still there. The greasy spoon cafe they’d used on the show had turned into somewhere far more middle class. But there was the pub where we used to have our lunch. Still with the same name. And there was my office. It looked exactly the same. Apart from the very posh flats which had sprung up opposite. They were called ‘Fulham’ something, because, presumably by adding ‘Fulham’ to the name they can charge a ‘definitely much posher than Hammersmith’ premium.

As I walked, I remembered all the pubs. We’d been to so many! The Distillers, The Chancellors, The Salutation, The William Morris, The Hop Poles. All still there. All with the same names. I can’t believe I used to go to so many pubs. They were practically a daily occurrence (now they’re an annual one). There were even more coffee shops than there were back in the day. I remembered how weird I’d though it was that people in London WALKED AROUNd DRINKING COFFEE IN TAKEAWAY CUPS. Seriously, in the mid-90s that didn’t happen anywhere else.

And then I was back at my hotel. My family was still asleep. I was glad I’d taken the opportunity to have a look round. I would have regretted it if I hadn’t. And I was kind of glad I’d done it on my own. I wanted to see things as they are now and remember them as they were. That was a lot easier to do without the endless chatter/ questions/ moaning/ arguing of my kids.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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21 Comments

  1. Ahh what a good trip down memory lane. I’ve been a few times when I’ve stayed in k west there or gone to that new shopping centre (whose name I forget!), i like how it’s still got lots of independent places and I’m sure I’ve seen that cinema too.

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    • I’ve never been to that shopping centre! Husband has been there a few times. Not enough time to go on this visit.

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  2. Ah It’s nice that you had that time to yourself – those sorts of things are definitely not the same with kids in tow. I find London fascinating (if not a little daunting), so it must be even moreso for someone with such strong memories of a particular part of London.

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    • I love London, but it is daunting. It was definitely not somewhere I wanted to stay and have a family. Was good to get that time on my own – wouldn’t have seen a fraction of it with kids in tow.

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  3. What a wonderful thing to be able to do 🙂 I have to say, I feel very much the same way about Hammersmith and it being a separate town but part of London. I used to go up there a lot!

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    • How lovely! I’ve never really met anyone who knows Hammersmith before (apart from my old colleagues of course, who I’m not in touch with any more).

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  4. I grew up in shepherds bush so all those street names are very familiar to me. I still like visiting the area occasionally, just to remind me of happy times when I was young. Its good to go back down memory lane once in a while 🙂

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    • How lovely, those street names must be very familiar!

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  5. How lovely that you had the chance to explore old haunts without the rest of the family in tow. Don’t you just love some time to yourself?!

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    • I certainly do! The early morning is always a good time for me.

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  6. So nice that you got the opportunity to take that stroll down memory lane!! We’ve done lots of that too this summer being back in the UK it’s so strange to go back to places where you used to call home, everything looks the same but you’re so so different you know that life is no longer yours!! A surreal experience!!
    The pub thing made me laugh so true for me too, god knows how our livers survive that drinky pub dwelling time of our lives haha!

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    • You’ve done a lot of going down memory lane lately! Funnily enough, I’m teetotal and have never had an alcoholic drink in my life, but it didn’t stop me spending all my time in pubs!

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  7. What a lovely thing to do, I bet it brought back fun memory’s 🙂 I have never moved to far so often go by places i work etc… One day we may just move somewhere new, before we get to old lol ..

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    • I now live a stone’s throw from the house I grew up in, but I spent five years in Nottingham, with university and a couple of years afterwards, and my two years in Hammersmith.

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  8. It’s nice to take a trip down memory lane sometimes, especially to see how much somewhere has changed over the years.

    #PoCoLo

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    • It actually surprised me how little it had changed, apart from the posh flats opposite my old office!

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  9. What a lovely post! I love London but I have only ever been there as a tourist or a visitor. I would have loved to live there when I was younger and rowed for one of the clubs on the Thames but it was never going to be for me. I didn’t realise that was your degree, I bet that was interesting.

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    • It was kind of interesting, but not really for me! I didn’t have the killer instinct to work in journalism, especially broadcast journalism, which was a lot to do with how you looked sadly. It was never really in the plan to live in London, but it was a nice thing to do for a couple of years.

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    • Thanks very much. I’m really pleased I did it – it was lie awake in a hotel room with the rest of the family asleep or go for a walk. It was a no-brainer!

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