Brixton

SW2

In the 11th century the area was known as Brixistane which means 'the stone of Brihtsige'. These stones were used as a meeting point for communities.

Over the years this became shortened to Brixton. Up until the Industrial Revolution and the coming of the railways, Brixton remained undeveloped and mainly agricultural.

The first speculative development started after the construction of the Vauxhall Bridge in 1816, with 'ribbon' development occurring around Acre Lane (the oldest buildings in Brixton include St Matthews Church, 1812, 46 Acre Lane 1808 and the Trinity Almshouses, Acre Lane, 1824).

The small settlement underwent a huge transformation between the 1860s and 1890s, as railways and trams linked Brixton with the centre of London. In 1880, Electric Avenue was so named after it became the first street in the area to be lit by electricity (Eddy Grant sang about it nearly 100 years later).

Large, expensive houses were constructed along the main trunk routes into Brixton, attracting the middle classes. At the turn of the century the area underwent a great social upheaval as the middle classes moved out to be replaced by a huge working class population.

Many of the big houses were converted into flats or boarding houses which proved very popular with theatre people working in the West End theatres, marking the start of Brixton's close association with the arts.

By 1925, Brixton had the largest and best shopping centre in south London with department stores, a thriving market, cinemas, pubs and a theatre attracting thousands to the area.

In the 1940s and 1950s many of the immigrants who came to Britain from the West Indies settled in Brixton and have continued to contribute to its electric, eclectic, multi-cultural feel ever since. (See the BBC's Voyage of Windrush).

It has been rumoured that Brixton was chosen as a destination for immigrants as many of the first wave were initially housed in temporary lodgings in a large underground bunker at Stockwell.

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