Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Vanishing Hammersmith & Shepherd's Bush

Crane on Shepherd's Bush road
One remarkable feature of London life is the speed with which old buildings are demolished. You walk down a street and you see a big hole, and wonder - what used to be there?

This happened to me on Saturday, walking down Shepherd's Bush Road from Hammersmith, watching a huge crane (left) building another huge crane, on top of a huge new building site on the west side of the street.

What building had been there before, prior to demolition? Something beautiful? Something ugly? I could not remember.

Fortunately, Google maps has created a photographic memory of our streets, so you can digitally navigate your way to the right spot and see what the street looked like before the building was knocked down.

Shepherd's Bush Rd prior to demolition
In this case, we're not missing much. The old buildings were a cluster of unremarkable structures, mostly dating (by the look of things) from the 1950s and 1960s, an un-lovely era in architecture.

But it's a reminder of how quickly things can change, and how fast old Shepherd's Bush and Hammersmith can be replaced with (often) ugly modernity.

The Hammersmith Society and the Hammersmith and Fulham Historic Buildings Group are, to some extent, the guardians of our heritage. But these are volunteer groups who are not always able to keep up with the rapid pace of change.

And, once beautiful buildings are destroyed, they rarely come back.

One recent example is the old Art Deco movie theatre on Hammersmith, destroyed by developers shortly before our Council killed the project, leaving a giant hole in the ground.

If you'd like to get involved, the Hammersmith Society is having its annual meeting on 5th July at the Bush Theatre, when they will announce the winners of their architectural awards. You can also see who won a wooden spoon for not-so-successful architecture.

The Shepherd's Bush Blog offers a personal view on life in Shepherd's Bush. If you would like to contribute a story about our neighbourhood, email us at shepherdsbushblog(at)gmail.com. And don't forget to leave your views in the comments section below. 

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