Sunday, May 01, 2011

My areas: Shepherd's Bush (images)

I start my W12 tour by getting off at Goldhawk Road tube, and then head west down Goldhawk Rd, north up Askew Road, cut through Askew Gardens before heading back east down Uxbridge Road, onto the green at the end of which I was pulled in by the shiny new and misshapen Westfield-led transport and commerce hub.

This pub used to be the Bushranger and for a skunk addled moment in 99/00 this spatial combination of the pub, the quiet Wells Road (for a kickabout) and the cover cast by the Hammersmith & City line before and after City's visits to the Loftus Road was my idea of an urban manna. But the Bushranger was never a great pub, and they're calling it the hardly alluring Stinging Nettle now.

Here's the iconic southern entrance to the market (insert Fools and Horses line about Trevor Francis tracksuits here) and the Goldhawk pub, a favoured venue but only occasionally frequented as said skunking dominated over more laddish/modish lifestyling in the local area. Steve and I were more frequently found in the Record Exchange a few doors down before it shut.

Into Askew Road itself, with this bland HQ for an entertainment production house marking the bend in the road. Not only do many individuals in the sector seem to live in this patch of west London, but quite a few businesses are also based here, such as the Town House recording studios.

Views of the main charm-free drag, the chippy and our flat (second and third floors of the one of the right). It was pretty grimy inside, with horrific 80s -legacy mirrored walls in the kitchen/lounge and my bedroom (no early nights for me as it was inconveniently right next door)

Into Askew Gardens and someone suffered from the BBC cutbacks.

View from 'our' Uxbridge Road bus stop, and another if not thriving then at least surviving pub. Where other areas have pared back the traditional pubs to the bare mimimum as the gastro conversions and chi-chi cafes move in, the Bush still supports a high number suggesting sufficient demand from locals and incomers for mythical dodgy Lahndan boozer fayre.

Further down, Arab stores and restaurants still dominate, though the Somali community has gained a retail foothold as it has in other western districts like Ealing.

The huge Pavilion is still unused and unloved (there are plans for a four-star hotel which will gut the interiors), while its tiny cousin thrives on southern hemispherical patronage.

On the green, groups of mainly black guys were wiling the day away with casual drinking, suggesting a loss of jobs and opportunities despite the retail behmoth we're about to see. Before that there's the Green shopping centre which cruelly timed its spruce-up (chain cafes, a cinema, more amenities) just ahead of the Westfield development, where the shoppers now flock.

The old victorian central line station was a casualty of the Westfield hub redevelopment (opposite they added a handy additional stop on the Clapham Junction-Watford line; I used to use Olympia one stop down for its lack of ticket gates). In its place is the usual ultra-bland, larger-scale metal-plated look.

And a couple of images of Westfield should make clear the architectural disaster visited upon the area, making one pine for the former infrastructural wasteland behind the station. + a note regarding the old Victorian library back up the road.

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