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Hedonistic, intense, rough and ready, some Londoners won’t even go to Brixton; others wouldn’t consider living anywhere else.
The heart of Afro-Caribbean culture in the UK and with vibrant Portuguese and gay communities also firmly entrenched in Brixton’s cosmopolitan melee, it’s an intoxicating if edgy place with some of the capital’s best nightlife.
A middle-class country suburb in the 1850s, it was heavily bombed in WWII and rebuilt with mainly social housing.
The area’s character was then fully transformed as the Empire Windrush docked on the Thames in 1948, bringing 492 immigrants from Kingston, Jamaica, and launching what would become modern Britain first multi-cultural community.
Brixton became the centre of London’s Afro-Caribbean community and thus, the face of black Britain. Jamaican culture is as vivid here today as it’s ever been, from booming reggae along Coldharbour Lane to the half-London, half-Jamaican patois spoken by millions of the capital’s youths, and the near-ubiquity of cannabis smoke – indeed, the drug was temporarily declassified in Brixton for few years earlier this decade.
Brixton’s street markets are fantastic, a feast for the senses: Electric Avenue, immortalised by Eddy Grant, is the pick of the bunch, and there’s further stalls on Brixton Station Road, Station Arcade, Granville Arcade and Tunstall Market.
In Brixton is the Brixton Market, open every day selling a range of Afro-Caribbean products.
The 02 Academy Brixton (211 Stockwell Road, www.02academybrixton.co.uk) packs in 5,000 people for top gigs from major bands and comedians, and the nightlife is wild – star choices include Mass (St Matthew’s Peace Garden, 0871 332 4662), the Prince Albert (418 Coldharbour Lane, 020 7274 3771) and the inimitable Dogstar (389 Coldharbour Lane, 020 7733 7515), name-checked by The Streets’ Mike Skinner and one of London’s original DJ bars.
Though the area’s a world away from the tense melting pot which erupted in rioting in 1981, 1985 and 1995, it’s still worth exercising some street-smarts when navigating Brixton after dark.
Brixton tube station is the southern terminus of the Victoria line of the London Underground, which has trains operating to Central London. the next nearest tube stations are Brixton tube station, Stockwell tube station and Clapham North tube station.
|Brixton Station||2||Victoria||0.18 miles|
|Clapham North Station||2||Northern||1.06 miles|
|Stockwell Station||2||Northern - Victoria||1.19 miles|
|Clapham Common Station||2||Northern||1.55 miles|
|Oval Station||2||Northern||2.28 miles|
|Brixton Station||0.30 miles|
|Loughborough Junc Station||1.12 miles|
|Herne Hill Station||1.27 miles|
|Clapham High Street Station||1.28 miles|
|Wandsworth Road Station||1.90 miles|