England Part 4: Brixton, Oxford St., and Southwark

June 28, 2014  •  1 Comment

The internet really is the most amazing place. Not only are we able to access information within moments of seeking it, but we are also incredibly connected to the rest of the world in ways that truly boggle the mind. 

I am a Tottenham Hotspur fan. Tottenham, for those of you that don't know, is the original North London football (soccer) club. I am a member of a few fan groups for Tottenham and I've chatted with some really great folks as a result. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting one of them! P is the genuine article! Not only did he show me around Brixton, but he also treated me to loads of history, a cuppa (cup of tea) and a pint (ale). Cheers, darling! (Thanks, hon!)

After The Blitz, London was in shambles and England's physical infrastructure was severely damaged. There wasn't enough housing to hold the general population or the builders. A widespread building boom occurred across London and surrounding areas. In 1948, Britain began advertising cheap transportation for skilled workers. 500 people immigrated from Jamaica, a part of the English Commonwealth, and settled mostly in Brixton. While they may have intended to return to Jamaica, many stayed and the Caribbean culture thrived. 

Brixton has had quite a reputation for being a dangerous and impoverished area - noteably the location of 4 riots (1981, 1984, 1995 and the 2011 London Riots). Racial tension and conflicts between the locals and the police seem to be the catalyst to these riots. The effects of those riots are still visible in Brixton today as Georgian Architecture meets Modern Architecture from lot to lot. 

According to P and a couple of locals I spoke with, there has been a recent "gentrification" of the area. The end result is a diluted culture and infusion of big money, pushing locals out. Rebuilding after the London Riots in 2011 in Brixton has only assisted in speeding up the ability of large chain businesses and organizations to profit, pushing out the Mom and Pop shops and replacing it with carbon copy high-street fare. 

This is how I saw Brixton.

(C)Rachel St Photography 4096593151

P met me at Leicester Square in central London, then we bussed it to Brixton. I've only been on a London bus once (the first time I came to London and I was terrified the entire time and ended up somewhere I didn't intend to go), but played it cool. As we trundled across London, P described Lambeth and gave some history lessons. Once we got to Brixton, we stopped at the Market  for a cuppa. P is a regular at this Federation Coffee - perhaps that's why they showed him a little foam love. 

P's Cappuchino, Federation Coffee, Brixton MarketP's Federation P's Cappuchino, Federation Coffee, Brixton Market

 

We strolled out of the market and meandered around some of the residential buildings in the area. P and I have a mutual appreciation for street art. This next spot, he has photographed before, but I was pleased to get one of my own! I took 2 shots here, one with the person down the street and another without him/her. I *really* love having him in the shot, so the other is dumped (a little insight into how I work my photographs :P ). 

(C)Rachel St Photography 4096593151

After we walked around the central part of Brixton, we stopped at the Ritzy Cinema for a pint (well, I had a pint, P had a lemonade something or another) and watched the bustle while we chatted. They were setting up for the Brixton Fête just a few feet from us as well, so it was an active viewing. 

Coffee Traveller, Brixton, UK June 2014Coffee TravellerCoffee Traveller, Brixton, UK June 2014

Paella Fête, Brixton, UK 2014Paella FêtePaella Fête, Brixton, UK 2014

 

After we did our people watching, we took a stroll through a gorgeous green park. The weather was delightful; partly sunny and warmish with the tastiest breeze. Speaking of the senses; I absolutely love the way Brixton smells. There are parts of London that have distinct aromas; you know it's London, but it's also "area of London specific". Liverpool Street station and surrounding area smells of pasties and sausage rolls. Whitehall smells of horse poo - but only faintly and not a stinky smell - more of a lingering "there's been a horse here" smell. Brixton's smells are a mix of barbecue'd meats, spices and onions with kind of tangy tomato sort of smell - it's delightful. I wasn't hungry while I was there, but I really wish I had been because everything - EVERYTHING - smelled so good. 

P also brought me to the PERFECT spot to get the Square Mile and Brixton in one shot. It may have been done before, but it's my first time seeing and doing it, so I love it. 

The tiny replica village delighted me to no end. There was also the most amazing play park! Seriously - it was fantastic; zip lines and hills and all sorts of jungle gyms. Evan and Hayden would have LOVED it. 

Prisoner's Art, Brixton, UK 2014Prisoner's ArtPrisoner's Art, Brixton, UK 2014

Sapphire City, Brixton 2014Sapphire CitySapphire City, Brixton 2014

Pretenders, Brixton, UK 2014PretendersPretenders, Brixton, UK 2014

 

Topping the park off was a sweet little pond and some quiet gardens (not photographed). P had to go to work, but ever the gentleman, he waited at the bus stop with me. I then took a bit of a wander around Brixton, chatted with a woman named Mo - who runs a design company & is also not pleased with the gentrification of Brixton, met a boxer named Princess and made my way back into central London.
 
Stoic Hat, Brixton, UK 2014Stoic HatStoic Hat, Brixton, UK 2014
Hello Darling, Brixton, UK 2014Hello Darling!Hello Darling, Brixton, UK 2014

I like to sit and watch people - particularly when I'm hoping to capture characters in street photography. So, I went back into central London and that's what I did. I only barely avoided a major catastrophe - I left my 50 mm 1.8 in a doorway in which I had been lurking. I didn't even realize it. 10 minutes after I changed locations, a Polish man came up to me and asked if I had forgotten something. I checked all of my things, and still didn't register that I didn't have my lens. He said, "Well I saw you here taking photograph. Then I was going to tube station and I saw this and I thought it must be you." I was floored. Absolutely floored! Not only was it my lens, but 1) I LEFT it somewhere and 2) a complete stranger just happened to notice me skulking along the walls and gave it back to me! He actually moved me. 

Svelte, Oxford Circus, UK 2014SvelteSvelte, Oxford Circus, UK 2014

Shimmer, Oxford Circus, UK 2014ShimmerShimmer, Oxford Circus, UK 2014

Shiine, Oxford Circus, UK 2014ShineShiine, Oxford Circus, UK 2014

 

And finally, to top off my day of wandering, I made my way to Bank/Southwark area. I wanted to get some more shots of the Thames at night from a different angle. Unfortunately, coming out of the tube completely turned me around, so I had a little stroll all over St, Paul's as well. I finally made it to the Thames (which was where I originally thought it was, but was having an internal argument and lost) and went down to the Thames Walk under Southwark Bridge. 

(C)Rachel St Photography 4096593151


Comments

Ginger(non-registered)
Fabulous photography and intriguing description s. Thanks for sharing.
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