Originally built for the middle class during the Victorian property boom, Brixton, a suburb in London, has had its ups and downs in reputation since.
During my childhood days this was an area in London that was impoverished and well-known for racial tension. As far back as I could remember it was a place synonymous with being rough and a dangerous part of town. It was not advisable to go there on your own unless absolutely necessary and especially not late in the evening.
Starting about 20 years ago and accelerating in the last five years (if house prices are anything to go by), Brixton has been enjoying a revival and a more positive reputation as an up and coming area.
Belonging to the London Borough of Lambeth, the area has seen money pumped into various regeneration schemes such as the square outside Roxy Cinema. Trendy businesses have been popping up to cater for the equally trendy 20 or 30-somethings (many of whom are professionals) that have taken up residence in the area. Where previously such groups where only moving to Brixton because they were being priced out of the traditionally more desirable neighbouring areas such as Clapham, they are now making specific requests to buy and set up family homes in this area. This all conjures up images in my mind of green, open spaces and manicured genteel streets.
Recently whilst back in London and close to that part of town, I ventured to Brixton and found myself exploring the main high street and Brixton Market, which are both situated right next to Brixton Tube station itself.
In my opinion (though I made no interviews or tallied any numbers), Brixton is still rough around the edges and in no way smooth and manicured as an estate agent or developer might try to paint with the average house price figures*. But as a Londoner, I’m actually not disappointed to see this because this is the kind of stuff that gives Brixton its character. The multi-ethnicity of the people on the streets going about their daily business, the blaring of a preacher speaking through a loud speaker, all the traffic and many buses jostling for position on the busy road, and the £1 shops and market stalls gave it an unorganised, grungy but vibrant feel.
Although not all pretty and neat, it’s is not to say Brixton hasn’t come upwards in leaps and bounds (in real street feel rather than on paper). On this occasion I am specifically referring to Brixton Village or Granville Market as it was formerly known. Previously a set of run down, grimy covered streets with ropey shops and stalls, these have given way to a wonderful mix of interesting new bars and eateries serving food hailing from around the globe for varying budgets. Trendy new homeware shops and hip clothiers are also present and most importantly in true local London or Brixton style, you will find hardware shops, fruit and veg, fish mongers and the ethnic goods that still remain. If you are looking to experience London off the beaten track and perhaps see how a real inner city Londoner might experience London, why not head down to Brixton for a spot of lunch and while away a few hours in Brixton Village and Market, a true diamond in the rough.
To get a better flavour of what you are likely to find if you venture there, scroll down for more of my photo log.
How to get there
Brixton is located in South West London and can be easily reached using various forms of public transport including a multitude of busses, mainline train routes and the London Underground or Tube.
Brixton Underground station is on the Victoria Line and in Zone 2.
*Average house prices in the London Borough of Lambeth during March 2016 according to UK Land Registry was £608,415 – higher than the London average house price of £534,785 during the same period.