Posts Tagged ‘Tate Library’

Meadows, Tate Library & Albert Square

Wednesday, October 25th, 2023

Meadows, Tate Library & Albert Square continues my walk on Wednesday 19th July 1989 in Stockwell and South Lambeth which began with Stockwell Park, Bus Garage, Tower and Mason.

House, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-23
House, Meadow Place, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-23

Unfortunately the next few frames of my film were ruined in processing, though I can still see a few details on a couple of images, including the large house immediately north of Stockwell Baptist Church a house with the legend ARS LONGA VITA BREVIS at roof level which I can no longer find, but was probably further north on the same road.

This picture, taken on a second camera, is the next I still have. Meadow Place is a short street off the Old South Lambeth Road at the southern of its two junctions with South Lambeth Road. It ends at a blank brick wall, on the other side of which is the Bolney Meadow Community Centre on the 1930’s LCC Bolney Meadow Estate, at the north-west corner of the 1960s South Lambeth Estate.

In 1870 there was still some meadow land in the area; Meadow Place appears on the 25″ OS Maps with the 1871 survey as a row of a dozen houses next to St Stephens School with some small fields to the south and east, but the houses to the south of the street which remain were not then present, though they are shown on the next survey in 1893-4.

This small block, now with a roof terrace above the single storey end further from my camera is still there and looking much the same except the hanging baskets have gone. Just down the street immediately beyond this house is a narrow passage which I could not resist.

South Lambeth Library, South Lambeth Rd, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-24
South Lambeth Library, South Lambeth Rd, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-24

The passage took me to an alley, Stamford Buildings, which led back to South Lambeth Road, and from which I made this view of the Library across the road. These late Victorian flats and possibly Meadow Place were built on the site of John Tradescant’s garden.

Sir Henry Tate the sugar giant who lived in Streatham gave three libraries to the area, the Tate South Lambeth Library here and other larger libraries in Brixton and Streatham.

The terms of his gift appear to be unknown, but it seems likely that he will have exacted a promise from the then local authority that the library be kept open and free of charge to server the local community in perpetuity. It remains open despite repeated attempts by Lambeth Council to demolish or close it – and the documentation surrounding the bequest remain hidden.

The library opened in 1888 and still serves the community in the area many of whom are now Portuguese. Lambeth first tried to demolish it when they built their Mawbey Brough estate in the 1970s, but it survived. Then in 1999 they tried to close over half of the boroughs twelve libraries including this one but had to drop the plans after massive public objections, led by the newly formed Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library. In 2015 the council had another go at library closures – and again a forceful campaign by the Friends saved South Lambeth.

South Lambeth Library is not a listed building (though it is locally listed), probably because it has suffered some serious losses since 1888. As designed by local architect Sidney R J Smith (who also designed the Tate Gallery) it had copper cupolas on top of the two towers as well as a large porch, its roof supported by six caryatids. The copper perhaps went to aid the war effort (along with the railings) and the porch was apparently removed in the 1950s, probably to allow road widening.

Aldebert Terrace, St Stephen's Terrace, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-11
Aldebert Terrace, St Stephen’s Terrace, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-11

I was standing in Aldebert Terrace and looking across to the splendid terrace wich runs around the corner of St Stephen’s Terrace and Aldebert Terrace. It dates from the 1860s and is now part of the Albert Square Conservation Area. The house at the left of the picture is a little later. These unlisted houses on St Stephen’s Terrace are distinguished by their ornate decoration.

Albert Square, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-12
Albert Square, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-12

Houses around Albert Square are numbered consecutively and all of the houses on the four sides of the square are Grade II listed in five groups. The square was developed on farmland which had been a part of the ancient Manor of Vauxhall following a Private Act of Parliament in 1843 on a site known as the ’14 acres’, and was completed following an agreement with him in 1846 by Islington builder John Glenn together with an ‘Ornamental Ground for the use of the Lessees of the Square in the late 1840s. All except one of the original houses remain, No 37 on the edge of the square which had been damaged by bombing being demolished and replaced by a block of flats in the early 1960s

This picture has No 11 at the extreme right and is looking towards the south-east corner of the square and includes the houses from 3-11.

Albert Square, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-13
Albert Square, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-13

At the corner of Albert Square between No 5 and No 6 I could see the rather more modern and much plainer flats on Hampson Way on the Mursell Estate, a large LCC estate designed from 1961 by the LCC Architect’s Department and built in 1963-66. A tall fence separates it from Albert Square, with no way through. The estate has a long frontage on Clapham Road and is mostly relatively low rise as in the picture.

Albert Square, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-16
Albert Square, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-16

This view is looking at the same corner as the previous picture but taken from outside No 1. Towering above the Albert Square houses is the single large tower block on the Mursell Estate, Rundell Tower, with 82 flats. The estate seems well-planned and is generally regarded as one of the better council estates in the area, though many properties are of course now privately owned.

Albert Square, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7f-61
Albert Square, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7f-61

My final picture of Albert Square is a view across Albert Square Garden, taken over the fence looking across to the north-west side of the square. Like many London square gardens this is a private garden, open to residents of the square and other local residents who have to pay a licence fee. Albert Square Lambeth – A report on the Central Garden by David M Robinson for English Heritage is a very detailed account about the square and London square gardens in general and in particular these gardens which are now run by the Albert Square Garden Trust.

More from this walk in later posts.

Bon Marche, Police, Acre Lane and Tate

Wednesday, September 6th, 2023

Bon Marche, Police, Acre Lane and Tate: My walk which began in Clapham on Sunday 4th June 1989 continues in Stockwell. It began with Light & Life, Pinter and Stockwell Breweries and the previous post was More Stockwell Green & Mary Seacole.

240-250 Ferndale Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-61
240-250 Ferndale Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-61

Possibly before going to Stockwell Green, perhaps even at some point on my previous walk I made some more pictures around the centre of Brixton. Unfortunately film doesn’t come with meta-data and my memory is not as reliable as EXIF data, but these pictures were certainly made around the end of May or beginning of June 1989 and so I’ll share them here.

240-250 Ferndale Rd on the corner with Stockwell Ave, just a few yards back from Brixton Road was built in 1905-6 as an annexe of Bon Marche department store, later becoming Post Office with council offices on the upper floor. You can see a post office sign at the left of my picture. A photograph in the Lambeth Archives taken around 1975 show it as offices for Christian Aid and it was later home to the Refugee Council. The ground floor more recently became Canova Hall, a restaurant and the building was revived as The Department Store, “to create a series of collaborative workspaces supported by an evolving hub of creative, retail and community uses“.

Edmundsbury Estate, Ferndale Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-64
Edmundsbury Estate, Ferndale Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-64

This estate was complete in 1929 for the London County Council as Ferndale Court to house police officers in the City of London Police, but converted into council flats managed by Lambeth Council in 1979 when one of the blocks was demolished to leave a public open space. They were designed by Sidney Perks, who was surveyor to the City of London from 1908 before being appointed as its architect in 1928.

Adjoining the site to the east was the City of London Police Sports Club ground, now the Ferndale Community Sports Centre.

Acre Lane Mouldings Ltd, Acre Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-52
Acre Lane Mouldings Ltd, Acre Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-52

A board illustrates the range of skirting architraves and cornices the company could supply, ‘Quality Mouldings for That Finishing Touch!‘.

Acrelane Timber Ltd is still at this site in Brixton and can perhaps still supply some similar items. A previous frame, not yet digitised shows a little of the frontage offering heating and plumbing supplies.

In my father’s workshop, a very large shed with store rooms and work benches at the back of his family house in Hounslow, long sold off and demolished, I was intrigued as a child by many of the old tools used around the start of the 20th century which included a range of moulding planes used to produce shaped mouldings such as this, used in his father’s cart building business. Back when my elderly aunts moved out around 1970 there was little interest in things like this and I imagine they ended up in landfill, though I’ve since viewed far less impressive ranges in museums.

Lambeth Town Hall, Acre Lane, Brixton Hill, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-54
Lambeth Town Hall, Acre Lane, Brixton Hill, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-54

I turned back along Acre Lane to the junction with Brixton Road where I photographed the grandiose Lambeth Town Hall, complete with a banner advertising an event about child benefit taking place on June 2nd, as well as a sign about going to Lambeth Debtline for debt advice.

Grade II listed Lambeth Town Hall was built in 1905-8, designed by Septimus Warwick and H Austen Hall in what is described as a modified Baroque style, and was further raised and extended 1935-8. I think the clock tower looks like some strange parody, an ornament which doesn’t really belong but has somehow thrust itself up through the ceiling of the main building and flowered extravagantly, reminding me of an amaryllis.

Tate Bust, Tate Library, Brixton Oval, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-55
Tate Bust, Tate Library, Brixton Oval, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-55

This area was a pleasant garden before being destroyed by Lambeth Council to produce a windswept waste to discourage local people gathering here. It hasn’t really worked, just become less comfortable with oddly placed fixed chairs and the wind certainly rushes through the renamed Windrush Square. I think I might have come here in 1989 to sit and eat my sandwich lunch.

Henry Tate was born in 1819 in Lancashire, the son of a Unitarian minister, and set up a successful grocery business with six shops in the Liverpool area before going into partnership with sugar refiner John Wright there in 1859. When this partnership came to an end he founded Henry Tate & Sons with his sons Alfred and Edwin.

Tate introduced new more efficient refining techniques for the production of white sugar, and his business expanded and in 1878 he opened a large refinery at Silvertown still producing sugar now.

Fountain, Tate Library, Brixton Oval, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-56
Fountain, Tate Library, Brixton Oval, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-56

Tate was an employer who took care of his workers and supported many educational projects including free libraries in Streatham, Balham, South Lambeth and Brixton as well as hospitals. After he had built and opened a gallery on Millbank and presented his art collection to the nation he was told Queen Victoria would be offended if yet again he refused a title, and he became a baronet in 1898, a year before his death.

The business was merged with that of Abram Lyle & Sons in 1921, probably causing Tate to turn in his grave, as he had despised Lyle, not least for the way he treated his workers.

Reliance Arcade, Electric Avenue, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-41
Reliance Arcade, Electric Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-41

The Art Deco Reliance arcade was built into an exiting Georgian house and other buildings between Brixton Road and Electric Lane in 1923-5, its Egyptian style terracotta inspired by the 1922 discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Home to around 30 businesses it was since 2014 this Grade II listed arcade was on English Heritage’s at risk list but was renovated in 2019-20. There are some good pictures from this time by Mike Urban on Brixton Buzz from before and close to the end of the renovation.

My account of this walk will continue in a later post.

Brixton Feb 1987

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020
Shops, Electric Ave, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987 87-2o-46-positive_2400
Shops, Electric Ave, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987

I visited Brixton fairly often in the 1980s and 1990s as it was one of the places you could buy cheap photographic paper, often outdated or cut up from larger sheets and re-packaged and sold by A.W.Young Photographic in Altantic Rd. Mostly I used this to make contact sheets of my black and white films, though at various times I also made small, often postcard-size enlargements of the more promising negatives as ‘file prints’, from which I would then make a choice to make as exhibition quality prints, usually on considerably more expensive papers.

Sanders, Jeweller, Brixton Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987 87-2o-44-positive_2400
Sanders, Jeweller, Brixton Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987

Cheap papers weren’t always poor quality. When Agfa stopped importing Portriga Rapid to the UK, remaining stocks went to the bargain dealers, and a similar situation happened with some papers from Kodak and Ilford, and some of my best prints were made on these.

Effra Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987 87-2o-36-positive_2400
Effra Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987

I’d begun attending events and workshops at the Photo Co-op in Battersea more or less as soon as it opened its Webb’s Road premises in 1984. It was an easy journey for me, just a short walk from Clapham Junction, and although I was pleased they got more funding in 1991, the move to Brixton as Photofusion almost doubled my journey time. But it did mean more frequent trips to Brixton in the 1990s, particularly as I began to put black and white photographs into the Photofusion Picture Library.

Mural, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987 87-2o-35-positive_2400
Mural, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987

More recently most of my visits to Brixton have been to photograph protest marches and rallies; at Brixton Police station, Lambeth Town Hall, in Windrush Square and around the area. Brixton has changed and lost a little of its character to gentrification, but remains a vibrant area.

Brixton Village, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987 87-2o-34-positive_2400
Brixton Village, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987
Tate Library, Brixton Oval, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987 87-2o-26-positive_2400
Tate Library, Brixton Oval, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987
Mural, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987 87-2o-15-positive_2400
Mural, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987

The pictures here were I think all taken on the same day, most likely before a visit to pick up some photo paper, and you can see a few more from that visit to Brixton in the Flickr album ‘1987 London Photos‘ . I also took around a dozen colour images, and some of these are in the album TQ31 London Cross-section

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.