Counter's Bridge and Creek

Page 122

Survey of London: Volume 6, Hammersmith. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1915.

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At the most easterly point of the Hammersmith parish boundary, where Hammersmith Road meets Kensington Road, stood Counter's Bridge, which spanned a watercourse flowing in a south-easterly direction to the river. It had its origin in the neighbourhood of Wormwood, properly Wormholt, Scrubs, and flowed into the Thames at Sandford Creek, sometimes now called the Chelsea Basin. It appears to have had no name that applied to it as a whole, but is of much topographical interest, as it formed a parish boundary almost throughout its course, first dividing what is now Hammersmith from Kensington and finally Fulham from Chelsea.

In Rocque's map of 1741–45 it is distinctly marked from Counter's Bridge to the Thames, but the northern course is not shown, though it appears in a plan of 1813 included in Faulkner's History of Fulham. In Fulham Old and New (1900) Mr. Fèret gives instances of the name as Contessesbregge (1421), Contassebregge (1422), Cuntassebregge (1445), and he finds it reported at a Court General in 1475 that the "bridge called Countesbregge is ruinous, and the Lord ought to repair it."

Perhaps we may be allowed to say a few words about the portion of the stream which was south of this bridge, because it was intimately connected with Hammersmith parish, though not actually in it, and because the various names by which it was known would otherwise lead to confusion. In Salway's Plan of the Turnpike Road from Hyde Park Corner to Counter's Bridge, 1811, it is called Stanford Brook, but its commoner names were Counter's Creek or Billingwell Ditch, and between Chelsea and Fulham it was the New Cut River, Chelsea Creek, or Bull Creek. Stamford Bridge, carrying the Fulham Road over what was once this creek, was in the 15th century Samford or Sandford Bridge, with various slight differences of spelling, meaning the bridge at the sandy ford. In the 17th century the word was corrupted to Stanford, and later took its present form. The village called Little Chelsea having sprung up hard by, the bridge is called in Rocque's map of 1741–45 Little Chelsea Bridge, a name which has long been dropped. In 1827–28, at a cost of about £40,000, this watercourse, forming the eastern boundary of Fulham from Counter's Bridge to the Thames, was widened and formed into Kensington Canal, about two miles in length. In 1845, except for a short distance at the mouth, which is still a creek or haven, the canal was bought by the West London Railway Company and, having been drained, was turned into a railway.

We have referred to another Hammersmith stream (the Stamford Brook), under the High Bridge and Creek, (fn. 1) but there is yet a third watercourse which calls for a short note. Near St. Mary's Church on the south side of Hammersmith Road are four houses originally called St. Mary's Place. Mr. Fèret records that "here the Black Bull Ditch, coming from Shepherd's Bush, reached the Hammersmith Road, which it crossed under a brick arch." It was named after the Black Bull Inn, where the house of the High Master of St. Paul's School now stands. The bridge over this ditch was called in early times the Brook Bridge, and there are references respecting the failure of the lord of the manor to keep it in good condition. The Brook is mentioned in the Fulham Court Rolls for 1479–80, when Richard Bedille surrendered half an acre in Northcroft (the land between Hammersmith Road and Brook Green) abutting on "le Brook" to the east. A "Broke Close" is referred to in 1614–15 as lying between "Blynd Lane" and the Common. Brook Green evidently takes its name from the stream, which is shown as a sewer in Salter's plan of 1830 (Plate 2). South of Hammersmith Road it followed the parish boundary as far as the Thames and was called in its lower course the Parr Ditch. The road to Fulham crossed it at Parr Bridge


  • 1. See p. 53.