Posts Tagged ‘Railway arches’

Down the Blue, Spa Road & Old Jamaica Road 1988

Thursday, June 16th, 2022

R & G Holden, Household & Fancy Goods, Southwark Park Road, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10j-31-Edit_2400
R & G Holden, Household & Fancy Goods, Southwark Park Road, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10j-31

‘The Blue’, the area around the market on Southwark Park Road and Blue Anchor Lane gets its name from the Blue Anchor Pub at the corner of the lane. The pub is on the site of an ancient hostelry, marked on the earliest maps of the area dating from 1695 as the Blew Anchor. The area belonged to Bermondsey Abbey and attracted many pilgrims, some on their way to Canterbury. The anchor is thought to have not been any reference to the later nautical links of the area but to the many Anchorites, many of them women who were enclosed in religious buildings having withdrawn themselves from secular society to lead a life of prayer. Pilgrims would visit them to join them in prayer and seek advice. It was a practice largely when Henry VIII broke away from the Pope.

The market was along Southwark Park Road until a separate market square was created in 1976, but shops like this still spilled out onto the pavement.

Spa Rd Station, Former Railway Station, S E & C R,  Priter Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10j-22-Edit_2400
Spa Rd Station, Former Railway Station, S E & C R, Priter Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10j-22

London’s first railway station was a short walk away. The London and Greenwich Railway opened its Spa Road station in 1836 before it had completed the line into London Bridge. Although little more than a temporary halt and at first without platforms it remained open until 1838. A second Spa Road station was opened after the line was widened in 1842 and operated until 1867 when a new station was opened 200 yards to the east with its entrance in the railway arches on what is now Priter Road. This closed as a wartime economy measure in 1915. Some of the buildings of the 1867 station including this can still be seen in the railway arches and I photographed several of them as well as this one. The initials are for the South Eastern and Chatham Railway which was only formed in 1899, and until 1923 ran all the railways in Kent and to the Channel ports.

Spa Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-62-Edit_2400
Spa Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-62

On my contact sheet I state that this remains of a former garage was on Spa Road and although I have no reason to doubt this the roads around here were confusing and the rail bridges all have a similar appearance. I took a number of very similar frames, obviously intrigued by both the broken boarding and the branches growing through it was well as the strange tower rising about a very tall brick wall on the other side of the road.

Rouel Rd, Frean St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-53-Edit_2400
Rouel Rd, Frean St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-53

The tower block in the background of this picture is Lupin Point on Abbey St, a 21 floor 61 m tall bock on Southwark’s Dickens Estate. This was made at the mouth of the bridge on Rouel Road, with Frean Street going off to the right. More recently this part of Rouel Road, was renamed Marine Street which previously had only started north of Jamaica Road (now Old Jamaica Road.)

This area has been redeveloped since I made this picture and the old housing replaced by a nine storey block so you need to go a little way along the road to see Lupin Point.

Old Jamaica Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-42-Edit_2400
Old Jamaica Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-42

These buildings on Old Jamaica Road are long gone. In 1988 clearly Robinsons Motorcycles Cycles Mopeds was still in business with a row of machines outside and bike parts in the shop window and curtains on the floors above, but much of the rest of the block was ready for demolition.

Enid Garage, Old Jamaica Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-43-Edit_2400
Enid Garage, Old Jamaica Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-43

Enid Garage on the south side of Old Jamaica Road was clearly a very basic concrete structure, its skeleton of beams exposed at the left. Behind are the railway arches and a long gantry across the tracks, still there. Enid Garage has gone and this is now the Old Jamaica Business Estate.

I think my walk continued to Rotherhithe New Road, where I’ll begin the next post in this series.


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Reclaim Brixton – Arches, Markets & More

Monday, April 25th, 2022

Reclaim Brixton – Arches, Markets & More – 25th April 2015

A day of events in central Brixton on Saturday 25th April 2015 celebrated its social & cultural diversity, increasingly under threat as increasing rents and property development are forcing out local businesses and residents.

Brixton boomed after the railways arrived here in the 1860s, the new transport links making it both a popular middle-class suburb and the major shopping centre of South London; it had the first purpose built department store in the UK, Bon Marché, opened in 1877 and continuing in business until 1975 and probably the first street market in the world to be lit by electricity in Electric Avenue. While the wealthier moved out in the first half of the twentieth century to leafier areas, the increasingly working-class population grew, as did the markets, cinemas, pubs and other facilities.

After the war Brixton became increasingly multiracial. Arrivals on the Windrush were given temporary housing in the Clapham South deep shelter, and found jobs from the nearby Brixton Labour Exchange and housing in rooms and flats in the area. Though many had intended to go back to the Caribbean, most remained here, bringing over family to joint them and over the years Brixton became a centre of the British African-Caribbean community. In 1981 locals rose up against heavy handed policing but the conclusions of the Scarman report were largely ignored and it was only after the death of Stephen Lawrence that the police were declared “institutionally racist.”

There was further unrest after the death of Wayne Douglas in police custody in 1995, and there was an increasing attempt by Lambeth Council to change the nature of the area seen by them as regeneration but by many in the area as gentrification.


Brixton Arches tenants protest eviction

The railways run on viaducts through central Brixton, and the arches below them, particularly along Atlantic Road and Brixton Station Road have long provided low cost spaces for local businesses.

But Network Rail decided to increase the income from these spaces and the existing tenants were threatened with eviction and then a tripling of rent for the refurbished space. One of the businesses, fishmongers L S Mash & Sons, had been trading here since 1932 and others since shortly after the war.

The businesses closed for two hours on Saturday lunchtime, many hanging white sheets with messages across the frontage and others inviting graffiti artists to decorate the shutters. These businesses, the arcades and the market really are the heart of Brixton.

Brixton Arches tenants protest eviction


Take Back Brixton against gentrification

Brixton Black Revs (revolutionaries rather than reverends) had wanted to march peacefully through the gentrified ‘Brixton Village’, but police and security guards blocked their way into the arcade, and instead it became a very short march to take housing and other activists directly to the Reclaim Brixton gathering in Wind rush Square

Granville Arcade which links Coldharbour Lane, Atlantic Road and Popes Road was built in 1937 with over 100 shops in its covered avenues, and was named after its developer, P Granville-Grossman. The site had previously been the Lambeth Carlton Club, a large Georgian-style mansion buit in the 1870s and home to the Brixton Conservative Association.

It was renamed Brixton Village around 2005 and was saved from demolition by a powerful local campaign which resulted in it and Reliance Arcade, Market Row being given Grade II listing. The listing text makes much of the importance of the Afro-Caribbean nature of the markets, but although listing saved them from demolition it has not protected them from gentrification and the replacement of much of this character by trendy restaurants and boutiques.

Take Back Brixton against gentrification


Reclaim Brixton celebrates Brixton

The area in front of the Tate Library and Brixton Ritzy was renamed Windrush Square in 1998. It had long been a popular meeting place for locals and local events, but Lambeth Council with offices in the town hall opposite clearly saw that as something of a threat, and spent a large amount on turning it into a desolate, bleak and unwelcoming windswept area to discourage the informal gatherings that took place there.

Although today the area was reasonably crowded, there seemed to be nothing very organised happening. Unite Community had a microphone at one side and there were a speeches, but few seemed to be taking any notice of them. When I walked around there was a group playing classical music, another of African drummers, and the Revolutionary Communist Group had its own megaphone and speakers, while people were having a light-hearted limbo competition to a musical accompaniment from the Unite ‘stage’. And some of my friends had disappeared to a nearby pub.

Reclaim Brixton celebrates Brixton


London Black Revs ‘Reclaim Brixton’ march

After an hour or two hanging around in Windrush Square, activists again took to the street for a lively march around Brixton.

Rather to my surprise, the march simply returned to Windrush Square. I hung around for a bit but everything seemed very peaceful and I mistakenly thought that perhaps nothing more would happen and decided to take a bus to begin my journey home.

Shortly after I left some people stormed and briefly occupied Lambeth Town Hall and a large window at Foxton’s estate agents was broken, and a few activists went into Brixton Village with banners.

Marcia Rigg whose brother Sean Rigg was killed in Brixton Police Station in 2008

London Black Revs ‘Reclaim Brixton ‘march


Things in Brixton have got worse since 2015. In 2018 Hondo Enterprises owned by Texan property developer and part-time DJ Taylor McWilliams bought Brixton Market which includes the arcades and the following year announced plans for a 20 storey office block, which were approved by Lambeth Council in November 2020. Hondo now brand the whole market area as Brixton Village.

More from the protests:
London Black Revs ‘Reclaim Brixton ‘march
Reclaim Brixton celebrates Brixton
Take Back Brixton against gentrification
Brixton Arches tenants protest eviction


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.