Postcards from the edge: Try the beat around the Bush

Shepherd's Bush Green is often viewed as a down-market Clapham Common, but get beyond the Tube and there are treats in store for the unsupecting visitor

There aren't many places in London whose name, in the abstract at least, evokes a warm, seasonal sort of feeling. There are no Christmas Roads or Baby Jesus Avenues in the A to Z. Nominally, the best that London has to offer is Shepherd's Bush, a location with admittedly tenuous festive connotations which is badly in need of some festive kitsch and glitter. But a look beyond the bounds of the world's most neglected patch of grass reveals an area of west London with a friendly face and a cosmopolitan history.

First impressions of Shepherd's Bush are not good. The Central Line exit from the Tube spits you out onto the charmless racetrack of the Uxbridge Road, which forms one side of the Shepherd's Bush Common triangle. The common itself was a popular venue among the homeless for a night's sleep and, at the turn of the century, around 250 people bedded down there each night. In 1904, the church monthly The West and Press implored: "The condition of Shepherd's Bush Green is to be attended to; the paths are to be asphalted and the immorality stopped." The image of a down-market Clapham Common persists, its eight acres surrounded on all sides by heavy traffic and seldom used by casual strollers.

Theories for the name "Shepherd's Bush" fall into two categories: fanciful or dull. Drovers from Kent and Suffolk used to pause on the common en route to Smithfield Market where, it is said, they used to nap on top of an ancient thorn bush in the shape of an inverted mushroom. This became known as a Shepherd's Bush, so the story goes. The more prosaic explanation is that a man called Sheppard once owned some land in the area.

Visitors today should head west as the main attractions lie in the vicinity of Goldhawk Road. The adventurous Bush Theatre is next-door to the cavernous Shepherd's Bush Empire, which has hip acts like Supergrass and Massive Attack booked for the months ahead, but was once the venue for the filming of Crackerjack. The huge Mecca Bingo building used to be a cinema, and has been "unflatteringly compared to a beached whale" despite its Grade II-listed building status. Development here occurred after the opening of the Central Line in 1900, the "twopenny tube" which linked Shepherd's Bush to Bank.

A few yards along Goldhawk Road brings you to Patio (no 5), a marvellous Polish restaurant offering a three-course meal for pounds 9.90, which includes a shot of vodka. This can be a celebrity trap due to its proximity to TV centre, so if Ruby Wax gives you indigestion, try Fish Fish (no 15- 19), an ultra-modern seafood restaurant with adjoining chippy.

The exuberance of Shepherd's Bush Market attracts many visitors. It meanders along the route of the Hammersmith and City Line and stallholders inhabit the arches between Goldhawk Road and Uxbridge Road. Fruit and clothes form the staple of the trade along with the odd tented curry house beneath the canvas. Lime Grove is a parallel street on the other side of the tracks and was the location of a famous BBC studio. Dr Who, Z Cars, and Steptoe and Son (above, which was also filmed in the surrounding streets) were among the shows filmed there before the studio was demolished four years ago.

In the children's playground on the common is a statue of a man wearing a hat. He is lying on his belly, head resting in his palm, looking glumly at the traffic in despair. This is how not to approach Shepherd's Bush. The secret is to get off your backside and explore.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SAP Project Manager

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

    SAP Project Manager

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

    Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

    £600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

    Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

    £65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star