H&F: Heart of Europe
Hammersmith & Fulham Council has pledged to do everything possible to support EU citizens and protect local jobs and career opportunities. It has also called on the government to abandon any plans for a hard Brexit and to give the British people a vote on whatever deal they end up getting – along with the opportunity to vote on keeping the many benefits Britons currently enjoy by staying in the European Union.
Seventy per cent of H&F residents voted to ‘remain’ in the EU referendum.
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H&F: Heart of Europe
Hammersmith & Fulham has long been one of the most European areas of our cosmopolitan city. Here’s a taste of what puts H&F at the Heart of Europe, with a wealth of European food, drink, history and cultural links which enrich our community, and make it the great place it is.
- Food and drink
EU nationals lead the way in bringing successful, innovative restaurants and bars to our neighbourhoods.
The owner of The Crepe Factory in 297 North End Road, Decio Barroso, has arguably the best crepes in London. The former pro footballer from Portugal had his restaurant ranked as the number one dessert restaurant on TripAdvisor, and hopes to still be in pole position as West Brompton regenerates.
“In time we hope this will become one of London’s great areas – it’s going to improve, and there is much change coming along,” said Decio. “We have created something new and different, with fresh home-made ice cream, crepes and waffles. We work with quality, and we have a unique family concept with a very colourful space inside.”
Michelin-starred chef Gonzalo Luzarraga and friend Francesco Ferretti of RIGO’ teamed up to open their first French-Italian restaurant and found a thriving community of businesses who were more than welcoming.
“H&F is a truly business-friendly borough,” added Francesco. “Every single shop on this stretch of the New Kings Road has embraced our arrival and given us advice and support. From lending us their tools to fix something in the restaurant to helping us find a room for a member of staff, it has been utterly astonishing.”
The six-course signature menu includes spaghettoni dei fiori with edible flowers and sea urchin with bagna cauda – a traditional dish from Piedmont – all well worth a try.
Meanwhile over in Fulham Broadway you’ll find a little corner of Spain at 10 Effie Road. El Metro has been serving up authentic plates of tapas and fish, with specialities including Catalan shellfish casserole, Cazulea de Marisco which has been a fixture on the menu since 1989.
An evening in the Octoberfest pub at 678 Fulham Road might fill you with oom-pah-pah, being home to the largest selection of German beers in the UK and authentic Bavarian cuisine.
You can get day-to-day delights from Bäkehaus at 71 King Street, Hammersmith, a shop celebrated for its German authenticity and appeal. For bread, cakes, pastries and pretzels it’s hard to beat.
If it’s more of a caffeine hit that you need, head over to the popular Local Hero Coffee Shop which has been keeping residents fed and caffeinated since 2014. Founders Petar Blazevic and wife Mirjana have created a favourite spot with locals at 640 Fulham Road in Parsons Green, and have gone on to expand their coffee empire to Kingston too.
One of the capital’s finest cafes, Patisserie Sainte-Anne, pitched up at 204 King Street, Hammersmith, after moving to London from Paris in 2014, with Alain and Keiko Marache creating all sorts of tempting bakes and breads, importing all their butter from France.
H&F enjoys strong links with Poland via POSK, the Polish Social and Cultural Association, at 238 King Street, Hammersmith. Set up in August 1964 to promote education, art and cultural ties between the UK and Poland, it has cemented already strong bonds.
The initiator, creator and builder of POSK was the inspirational Professor Roman Wajda. After being awarded two Crosses of Valour and spending time in a labour camp during the Soviet occupation of Poland, he came to London in 1946 and worked in the Polish Resettlement Corps before creating the beacon that is the POSK for our Polish community in H&F.
There have always been strong connections between west London and Ireland, with the Irish Cultural Centre in 5 Blacks Road, Hammersmith, the focus for the Irish community. Rebuilt over four years with help from the Irish government and the Shepherds Bush Housing Group, the new centre was opened ahead of St Patrick’s Day 2017.
With such a large, vibrant French population in west London, it’s no surprise that there’s a strong French accent in Hammersmith & Fulham.
Le Hérisson is a French pre-school in Rivercourt Road, Ravenscourt Park, teaching children up to the age of six in the French language, with regular fresh-air outings to the nearby park.
L’Ecole des Petits began in 1977, and now has 135 children aged three to six in its base in Hazlebury Road, Fulham.
The charity Dispensaire Francais is based at 184 Hammersmith Road, assisting French speakers in medical matters, drawing on the expertise of Gallic doctors who live in London, and offering wider social support.
- Health and beauty
The founder of Terra Hale, London’s first eco-friendly self-sustainable gym, hails from the Czech Republic. Michal Homola has transformed the space at 853 Fulham Road into a biophilic paradise. Away from the hustle and bustle of the busy Fulham Road, you find a temple of fitness with every nook and cranny oozing tranquillity. Green vegetation grows in one corner, the interiors are decorated with recycled materials and even the hand towel in the loo is bio-degradable.
“I believe that our body is our machine and that is reflected in the layout of the gym. You would never believe that you were in the middle of Fulham when you enter Terra Hale,” said Michal. “H&F is a fantastic place to do business and I could not ask for more.”
Bernie Haaser, who comes from the Austrian Alps, joined the sports footwear specialist Profeet at 867-869 Fulham Road in 2011 where he is the senior ski boot technician. He has found snug fits for all and sundry including England rugby World Cup winner Will Greenwood.
Get inked up by Latvian tattoo artist Robert Klamanis who forms part of the talented team of artists at Hammersmith Tattoo at 3 North End Road. Robert did four years of art school in Latvia before moving to H&F to begin his two-year apprenticeship, and has now developed a unique style of his own.
Romanian businesswoman Oana Babagianu moved over to the UK over 10 years ago and recently opened Vos Beauty Salon at 618 Fulham Road with a team that consists of stylists from Italy, Romania and Portugal – a real mixed European family.
The Fulham shop opened in July 2016 following the success of her beauty salon in Chelsea. She has also expanded the Vos line into the jewellery business, car rentals and events. There is no stopping her!
The Duchess of Cambridge is a huge fan of Merci Maman in 25 Heathmans Road, the brainchild of Beatrice de Montille who founded her hand-crafted jewellery business at her kitchen table in 2007 and has not looked back.
She is an award-winner at H&F Brilliant Business Awards, which boosted her reputation and which has greatly benefited the Fulham-based company.
“Winning the award has allowed us to grow our brand awareness locally, and also nationwide,” said Beatrice. “Being recognised by your local council is a great privilege as we work hard to support and work with our local community.”
If you love the look of Scandinavian furniture, but don’t want to go you-know-where… try Nordic Style at 68 New Kings Road which is filled with Swedish elegance and accessories, from dining chairs and chests of drawers to candles, vases and lamps.
A popular gift shop among Kings Mall regulars in Hammersmith, Flying Tiger Copenhagen is a Danish design store featuring a constant parade of new ideas. It boasts that there are 300 new products piled high on the tables every month, from gadgets to toys, home decoration to fashion accessories.
With three famous football clubs in a single borough, it’s no wonder so much European talent has been drawn to Hammersmith & Fulham to add silky skills and glorious grit to the squads of Chelsea, Fulham and QPR down the years. But did you know that the practice of embracing continental stars is more than a century old?
Nils Middelboe became the first foreign player to wear Chelsea blue way back in 1913, with the 6ft 2in Dane making 175 appearances for the club. Since then Stamford Bridge has been illuminated by dozens of European wizards, from Eden Hazard (Belgium) and Claude Makelele (France) to Michael Ballack (Germany) and Gianfranco Zola (Italy), Arjen Robben (Netherlands) to Dan Petrescu (Romania).
Just down the Fulham Road at Craven Cottage, Fulham FC’s alumni include Dimitar Berbatov (Bulgaria), Giorgios Karagounis (Greece) and Zoltan Gera (Hungary), not to mention current squad members Mattias Kait (Estonia), Marek Rodak (Slovakia) and Michael Madl (Austria).
In Shepherds Bush, Queens Park Rangers has been a home-from-home to Niko Kranjcar (Croatia), Sam Magri (Malta), Kaspars Gorkss (Latvia), Giorgios Tofas (Cyprus) and Radek Cerny (Czech Republic), while current regulars Marcin Brzozowski (Poland) and Ryan Manning (Ireland) still entertain the crowds at Loftus Road.
Meanwhile, Fulham boxing sensation Zak Chelli first laced the gloves up at the tender age of five under the tutelage of his father Zak Chelli Snr.
The prizefighter of Italian descent went pro after dominating the amateur scene and signed with legendary boxing promoter Frank Warren.
The super-middleweight contender aims to take the 12st division by storm following in the footsteps of world super-middleweight champion George Groves, who is also from Fulham.
The European influence on the borough starts with part of its very name. There are numerous interpretations behind the name of Fulham but the widely accepted explanation is that it derives from the Saxon word Fullenhaue meaning ‘the resort of birds’ due to the high volume of water fowl in the area.
The famous moat uncovered at Fulham Palace is considered by some historians to be the creation of the Danish army in 879 as a form of protection while they were encamped there through the winter while others think it was built later during the 14th century.
H&F has been home to many great European artists such as Giovanni Battista Cipriani, Francesco Bartolozzi and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska through the years. On a musical note, Irish sensation Elvis Costello grew up in Olympia and got his first taste of show business watching his father perform at Hammersmith Palais in the Joe Loss Orchestra.
Costello went on to include the borough in his song London’s Brilliant Parade:
From the gates of St Marys
There were horses in Olympia
And a trolley bus in Fulham Broadway
H&F’s love and support for our European counterparts extended to thousands of Belgian refugees who were housed in Empress Hall, which is now where the Empress State Building stands, during World War One in 1915. Plaques still hang in Fulham Town Hall and St Thomas of Canterbury church in Rylston Road commemorating the Belgians’ stay.
Tell us more
Please let us know about any other European connection or business in H&F, or just to tell us your experience of how our EU citizens have contributed. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or get involved on Twitter using #HFHeartofEurope.