June Photos

This month I have some photographs of Brixton – mostly of the open-air and covered markets – together with three royal palaces and spots in and around the Mall – that’s the blue blood!

The covered market in Brixton nowadays is called “Brixton Village”.
Why is everywhere in London nowadays a ‘village’? I know they all used to be a very long time ago, but it sounds suspiciously like estate agents’ wind to me!
Brixton has become an increasingly fashionable (and expensive) place, helped by the short tube hop into central London and (so I am told) by the nearness to the clubbing of Clapham.
The markets are really excellent – look for example at the superb fish stall I photographed.
Some of the shops and stalls in the covered market are a little unusual – see for example the one with religious products from Haiti. Outside, the open market in Electric Avenue is more conventional but very lively and selling some lovely fresh foods.

In addition to the market, I have some pictures of the brutalist Southwyk House – originally built to form a barrier to the inner motorway box (nice for the residents…) and one of the Laundry in Coldharbour Lane. This is an old established family business that has been in the same place since 1880.

For those who do not know what the “Inner Motorway Box” is: the original post-war Abercrombie Plan for Greater London in 1947 proposed a set of three concentric dual carriageway ring roads. These were upgraded in more detailed later Greater London Plans to three concentric motorways – the inner one of which was more or less rectangular. One got built – the M25; the North Circular continues to be improved – but is not a motorway, and it connects to the South Circular – which remains rather more a route than a good circular road. Only tiny sections of the Inner Motorway Box were ever built – such as the West Cross route – now next to the Westfield Shopping complex in Shepherds Bush. The Inner Box became very controversial and was the main issue in the 1973 Greater London Council (GLC) elections, resulting in a Labour majority and Ken Livingstone’s first election as a GLC Councillor. (The GLC was scrapped by Margaret Thatcher in 1986)
There are now revived plans in the latest Greater London Plan from the Mayor’s Office for the inner route – but not of motorway, nor resulting in tearing down lots of housing – rather more of an improved road route in South and North Circular style.

The atmosphere in central Brixton is lively and pleasant – a far cry from the angry days of the riots of 1995 – which occurred following the death of a young black guy in police custody. Also like so many parts, it has become gentrified and the price of property has soared.

My palaces are:
– Buckingham Palace
– St James’ Palace
– Hampton Court Palace

There is one photo of Admiralty Arch – a building completed in 1910 and used as offices for admin staff, but now leased to a property company who intend to turn it into a five-star hotel. However the last I read about this (last year) the plans were in some difficulty over a disagreement with Westminster Council over the contribution to be made towards affordable housing (a growing problem on many new developments). It may also have got held up with the recession. The building cannot change its appearance as it is Grade I listed.

As I was snapping away in the Mall, I happened on two separate troops of the Household Cavalry and one of the Royal Coaches. Nothing much to do with architecture – but made some nice photos anyway.

Once again they represent the variety that distinguishes them from Brixton and its markets and thus the amazing variety of London.

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