At least from the early 12th century, the borough was a part of the Ancient Parish of Fulham. From the seventh century, the Bishop of London granted the manor (estate) of Fulham to Hammersmith, which became an independent parish in 1631. Hammersmith was a chapelry within Fulham until 1631.
In 1965, Hammersmith and Fulham merged to form the Metropolitan Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. In the past, it was called the "London Borough of Hammersmith" until its name was changed by the council on January 1, 1979. Until 1834, the two parishes had been merged together as the hamlet of Hammersmith had no church. From 1855 to 1886, they were unified again under the Fulham District.
In 1824, Fulham saw the establishment of the world's first energy utility company, at Sands End, followed by road and rail development in the east of the borough. In 1879, Queen Victoria visited Bill Cody's Wild West Show at West Brompton on vacant land near the new railway sidings on the boundary with Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council and founded the Earls Court Exhibition Centre. In the borough, numerous international fairs and exhibitions followed until the construction of Earls Court II in the 1980s, which was dismantled by developers in 2015.
At the other end of today's borough, the Franco-British Exhibition and Olympic Games were held in 1908 at Hammersmith, at White City, but it took decades for the site to be redeveloped. In 1960, the BBC opened the BBC Television Centre, followed by Westfield London in 2008, which included a shopping mall and new transport links.
A number of major companies have UK headquarters in Hammersmith, including Disney and L'Oréal. The borough is home to Sony Mobile Communications' headquarters.
Iberia operates the Iberia House in the borough. All Nippon Airways operates its London Office on the fourth floor of Hythe House. South African Airways has its United Kingdom office in South African Airways House. The head office of CE Europe, a Capcom subsidiary, is located in Hammersmith's George House. Iran Air's London offices are also located in the borough. As of May 2011 it will be relocating to the Metro Building in Hammersmith.
Air France's UK and Ireland office was based in Hammersmith for 15 years before moving to Hatton Cross in 2006.
Virgin Group Ltd. previously had its corporate headquarters at The School House, Brook Green in the City of Westminster. In 2013, the office was relocated to the Battleship Building near Westway in Paddington.
In addition, TAP Portugal operates an administrative office near Hammersmith Bus Station in the Borough.
There are 165,242 people in Hammersmith and Fulham, according to the 2001 census. The borough has 60% white British residents, 20% white non-British residents (including large French, Polish, Portuguese and Irish communities), 5% black Caribbean residents, 8% black African residents, and 11 percent other ethnicities (such as Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Chinese).
There are more single adults in the borough than anywhere else in England and Wales (55%), and there is a higher proportion of young adults aged 20–29 (24%) than the average for the London area.
A majority of households are owner-occupied, while 22% are "other" - usually two or more unrelated adults living together, such as students or cohabiting couples.
The borough comprises a patchwork of extremely affluent as well as some less affluent neighbourhoods; Fulham, Parsons Green, Brackenbury Village, Brook Green, Ravenscourt Park and the Riverside all contain expensive Victorian and Edwardian homes, a stark contrast to White City and Shepherd's Bush. At less than 5%, unemployment is well below average, although 29% are long-term unemployed.