Old enough to merit a mention in the Domesday Book, Hanwell is a relatively youthful (late-Victorian) and obscure suburb that straddles the busy Uxbridge Road between Ealing and Southall.
Distinctive residential enclaves are located within Hanwell itself. Old Hanwell alongside Lower Boston Road has small and medium-sized 1880s to 1890s homes, and a small grid bordering Half Acre Road has similar, slightly newer property stock. Leafy Golden Manor to the north has Hanwell's largest houses, and more modest homes are nearby on roads named after Tennyson, Milton, Shakespeare and Cowper.
Hanwell's growth was sporadic. The railroad arrived as early as 1838 but brought little population increase. It did, however, give the area Isambard Kingdom Brunel's imposing Wharncliffe Viaduct, which is a local landmark.
A bigger boom came from an unlikely source. "A real spur to the population increase was the foundation of the Central District School for Poor Law children in 1856 (closed 1933), which at times boasted over 1,000 children," says the London Encyclopaedia. Demand for small family homes also increased when a tram line arrived in 1901.
The prospect of another new tram worries Barry Morgan, an empty-nester who moved to Hanwell eight years ago. "The main attraction was the greenery. We had lived in Acton for 17 years, but I was very familiar with Hanwell," says Morgan, who teaches English and French from home.
"I used to bring my children to what we called Bunny Park, which is in Brent Lodge Park. Originally it took in monkeys and other animals unclaimed after quarantine, and it had many different kinds of rabbits."
Eventually, Morgan's son and daughter each moved to Hanwell, and their father soon followed. "Our six-bed house suddenly seemed cavernous, and Hanwell's property prices are much lower than Ealing. There's a nice mix of friendly people here, and children play in the street, which is a novelty.
"Our roads had been a rat-run 24 hours a day. We campaigned for a barrier, which was finally put up. It took 14 years. Now, no more rat-run, no more broken wing mirrors, no more taxis and lorries, no more dumped cars. An estate agent said that property values immediately jumped 10 per cent. The tram will probably bring more traffic on these side roads."
Proximity to Heathrow means that Hanwell south of the Uxbridge Road suffers from aircraft noise. It is not directly beneath the flight path, however.
What do properties cost in Hanwell?
Jason Godfray of Townends says that Hanwell attracts young professionals who opt for a freehold house in Hanwell rather than a flat in Ealing or Chiswick. Flats start at about £160,000, and houses from £220,000 if ex-council, and £250,000 for private late-Victorian terraces. A three-bed ex-council house with patio garden and two garages in Allingham Close is selling for £249,950.
How much do flats cost?
A one-bed conversion flat in Shirley Gardens with no garden is selling for £189,950, whereas a one-bed flat with garden but needing work and on the busy Greenford Road is £195,000; both at Robertson Smith & Kempson. On St Margarets Road, Bellway's new Murray Wharf will have 10 two-bed flats priced from £249,999 and four three-storey townhouses from £399,000. Occupancy is scheduled for July 2006. Rolfe East, 0845 676 0254.
What about houses?
Bordering Old Hanwell, which extends from Green Lane to Studley Grange Road, a three-bed Victorian semi with 73ft garden on Lower Boston Road is £349,950 at Townends. A four-bed two-reception end terrace on Holly Park Road is £390,000. Only £5,000 cheaper is a smaller two-bed, two-reception Victorian terrace on Half Acre Road. Why is it so expensive? It has a 180ft garden backing on to the river Brent; £385,000 at RSK.
What about larger properties?
A five-bed two-reception semi on Golden Manor, and a four-bed, three-reception detached nearby on Manor Court Road, are selling for £625,000 and £650,000 respectively; agent is RSK.
How is the transport?
Hanwell railway station is two stops from Ealing Broadway national rail and Underground (District and Central Lines) stations, in zone three. The area is convenient for the M4, M40 and Heathrow.
Describe the green scene
Hanwell enjoys canalside and riverside paths in addition to several large parks and golf courses. The "Bunny Park" is home to rheas and mongooses, goats and rabbits, and an indoor area with monkeys, reptiles and spiders.
How are the local schools performing?
Very well. St Mark's Primary on Lower Boston Road is well above the national average in English and maths, and achieved 100 per cent in science. Several nearby primaries (St Joseph Roman Catholic; Hobbayne; Oaklands) can boast of similarly impressive results. Drayton Manor High School was 10 points above the national average in 2004.
And one for the pub quiz
Which famous entertainer born in south London did time in the Poor Law school?
Robertson Smith & Kempson, 020-8566 2339; Townends, 020-8579 9282; Tuffin & Wren, 020-8840 0993
Walworth native Charlie Chaplin, along with his older half-brother, Sydney.Reuse content