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Sunday, 5 January 2014

What is Brixton like?

Image: freedigitalphotos


Brixton is an inner-city area of London, four miles to the south of Charing Cross. For most of the twentieth century it was regarded as a rather run-down area, but more recently the process of gentrification has begun, as its reputation as a lively multi-cultural area has attracted a new breed of young urban professionals.


Brixton was mainly rural until the nineteenth century, although the remains of a Roman settlement have been found on Brixton Hill. When it had been made accessible to central London by the building of Vauxhall Bridge, and later, by the railway line, some large Victorian houses were built and it became a desirable residential area. Many of these houses were converted for multiple occupation after 1900, and Brixton then began the decline from which it is now recovering.


Migrants began arriving in Brixton in numbers after the Second World War, when Caribbeans of the Windrush generation settled here. More recently people from the Indian subcontinent and South East Asia have made it their home; and it is popular as a temporary home for young people from Australasia.


Being close to the West End but not too expensive, Brixton became popular as a home for actors and other performers, and this partly explains why it has such a lively artistic reputation nowadays. Although it is still relatively affordable when compared with other central areas, rents and property values have been rising steadily in recent decades.


Getting around by public transport is easy in this part of London. The underground station is only four stops away from Victoria mainline station, and there are overground rail connections to Gatwick Airport and many other destinations in Southern England. There are good bus services, including night buses, to other parts of London.


You can find all the usual chains and outlets in Brixton, and also one of the few remaining London independent department stores, Morley's on Brixton Road. But the best part of shopping in Brixton is undoubtedly the market. Open every day, it's not aimed at tourists like Camden, or foodies like Borough; it's a real working market with keenly priced fruit, vegetables, fish and meat from all over the world, as well as clothing and household goods.


There is a lively music scene in Brixton, from the nationally-known Brixton Academy, which hosts many styles of contemporary music, to many smaller pubs and clubs offering Latin, Caribbean, and other genres. The Ritzy Cinema offers both mainstream and art-house cinema, and you can eat and drink there too.


Brixton is a good place to eat out. At night the Covered Market hosts Brixton Village, a collection of over twenty international eating places with an informal and cosmopolitan feel. Around the central area there is a huge choice of cuisine, with sit-down and take-away restaurants featuring food from all round the world.

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