Paddington: A well-connected central London village
- Credit: Archant
There’s more to Paddington than just a station and a famous bear. Look beyond the tourist traps to find a bijou village full of luxurious independent shopping.
Paddington is in the City of Westminster in the Cities of London & Westminster parliamentary constituency. It has the W2 postcode. Council tax in Westminster has dropped 0.6 per cent for 2016/17. Band A properties now pay £445.87 council tax; Band D properties pay £668.81; and Band H properties get a bill for £1,337.62.
Much of the property in Paddington is found in cream stucco mid-Victorian buildings, which were built near the new station. The most desirable of these are set around pretty gardens or in grand terraces. Parts of the district are distinctly seedy mainly comprising cheap hotels but other areas are far more well-heeled, particularly around Connaught Square, now under permanent armed guard since Tony Blair bought his house there in 2004 for £3.5million. New development is centred around the Paddington Basin, while the Hyde Park Estate is the focus of post-War building.
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The average price for a two-bedroom flat in the area is £895,353; £2,255,920 for a terraced house; and for a semi-detached house it’s £4,104,167.
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St Stephen’s and St James & St John are both voluntary aided mixed Church of England primary schools, both rated good by Ofsted. Also rated good is Hallfield Primary School, a large community school. The Minerva Academy is a free school given a requires improvement rating by Ofsted, while Connaught House is a small independent primary rated good.
Lansdowne College is a mixed gender, fee paying secondary school with boarding facilities that received and outstanding Ofsted rating, while just across the Westway, Westminster Academy is a large mixed school, also rated outstanding. College Park School teaches pupils with special needs from age five to 19 and has been rated good by Ofsted.
Paddington is in zone 1 of the London Underground network on the Bakerloo, Hammersmith & City, Circle and District lines. It is also a mainline station for services heading west out of London as far as Wales, Cornwall and, closer to home, Reading, the Thames Valley and Heathrow Airport. A Crossrail station is also under construction. Central line stations Marble Arch and Lancaster Gate are also on the area’s fringes.
Numerous buses serve the area and there is also a 24-hour taxi rank outside the station.
Landmarks and history
Paddington station is obviously the major landmark of the area. It was designed in 1854 by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and there is a statue to the famous engineer in the station. Also commemorated with a statue in the station is Paddington Bear, so named because he arrived at the station from Peru in Michael Bond‘s books, first published in 1958. The Fleming Museum in St Mary’s Hospital offers an in situ reconstruction of the lab in which the famous scientist made his world-changing chance discovery of penicillin in 1928, while the Hospital archives are also open to researchers.
Skip the station and its immediate surrounds – unless you’re catching a train – and head to Connaught Village to browse the high end boutiques.
Florist Prewett Miller nestles alongside specialist food shops including Abasto, an Argentine butcher and wine merchant; Cocomaya patisserie and chocolate shop; Buchanans Cheesemonger; and Markus Coffee, which was opened by Hungarian Holocaust survivors in 1957 and continues to roast and blend beans from 13 different countries on site today.
There’s an array of boutiques in the village to tempt fashion fiends, from colourful Kokoro and edgy Viola to chic and restrained ME + EM. Patey Hats traces its roots back to 1695 when the Huguenot Corne family emigrated to London from France. In the 20th century their descendants, still making hats, set up in south London, where the factory making the wares found in the Connaught Street shop remains today.
Interiors fanatics will love Mud Australia, the first UK branch of the ceramic brand, which offers more than 70 styles of handmade porcelain in an array of colours.
Eating and drinking
The Frontline Club is a media institution offering events, funding and training to champion and promote independent journalism and international affairs. The restaurant is open to the public and is undoubtedly the best place to eat close to the station, surrounded by iconic photojournalism and lubricated by reasonably priced wine.
Masgouf is a good value Iraqi restaurant in Connaught Village serving mezze, grilled meat, fish and Iraqi stews, all accompanied with freshly grilled, pillowy flatbread. It is also byo.
Crave Food Market in the newly developed Merchant Square has a small selection of street food stalls on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For indoor dining in the same area, Kupp is a Scandinavian inspired café and restaurant for all day dining with a bar, while Sheldon Square is where the office workers go in their lunch hour with chain takeaway food outlets and deckchairs on the Astroturf steps on a sunny day.
Sport, leisure and culture
Porchester Spa is a 1920s spa full of atmospheric original features, including green and white tiles and high arched ceilings across the steam rooms, sauna, hot rooms and cafe. It also offers a range of treatments and packages for both women and men. There is also a gym, squash court and two swimming pools in the council-run Porchester Centre.
Paddleboarding and canoeing is on offer in Paddington Basin, along with SUP yoga, a series of traditional poses carried out on a floating ‘mat’. It can be done in either traditional yoga clothes or a wetsuit.
Good for kids
Paddington Children’s Library is in a standalone building and offers a homework club and study area as well as various under-fives events.
The Porchester Centre is part of the Tom Daley Diving Academy programme, running weekly junior diving beginner courses for five to 16 year olds, as well as intensive holiday courses.