Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What's West Hampstead Like?


Situated within the London Borough of Camden in north west London, West Hampstead is one of London's residential inner suburbs. It is a mile or so to the west of Hampstead Village, and about the same distance from Hampstead Heath, one of London's largest green spaces.


English: West End Lane, West Hampstead
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To the West lies Edgware Road, now the A5, which was once part of Roman Watling Street; this accounts for its straight -line construction, which is so unusual in London. However, until Victorian times West Hampstead was an agricultural area, centred upon a small village called West End, whose name survives in West End Lane, West Hampstead's principal street. West End was renamed when the railways arrived in the mid-nineteenth century, at which point residential development began.


In its early years, West Hampstead was largely a blue-collar area. In more recent times, its proximity to central London, and its ready access to the business districts of the City and Docklands, have made West Hampstead a popular choice amongst both business and professional people, and also those employed in the theatre and creative arts.


West Hampstead is one of the best-served areas in London for surface trains; there are no less than three stations on two lines, including the newly- modernised Capital Connect, linking via St. Pancras to Kent and Europe. Underground services are excellent; the Jubilee Line, London's newest tube, connects to Central London and Docklands.


West End Lane Books is one of London's few surviving independent bookshops. There are other independent shops on West End Lane, including some interesting food shops, supplemented by a weekly Farmer's Market. There is an indoor shopping centre on the Finchley Road, and chain stores to the west in Kilburn.


There are few large businesses in the West Hampstead area, but plenty of small firms in the retail and service sectors. Most West Hampstead workers commute to jobs in the City of London and the West End.


Two well-known small theatres, the Hampstead and the Kilburn Tricycle, lie just outside the area. The Screen on the Hill in Belsize Park is an independent cinema specialising in screenings of films outside the usual mainstream repertoire.


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On West End Lane you can find a great variety of restaurants at all price levels. The Wet Fish Caf'e is noted for its simple fresh food and great coffee. Food from all over the world includes Italian, Vietnamese and Lebanese specialities.


This is traditionally an area noted for its excellent schools. Emmanuel School is a primary school rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted. Hampstead School and Haverstock School both have excellent reputations at secondary level.


There are some substantial Victorian properties in West Hampstead, of which the largest are mostly divided into flats. Other property includes high-quality mansion blocks dating from the last century, and some more recent residential development.