South West London
|| The vast area of South
West London has a long and varied history that dates
back to several entries in the Doomsday Book.
History buffs should be sure to visit the following
places for an exciting glimpse into the past.
With a long and dark history, Shoreditch and Hoxton
had a mostly unrecorded history for the first several
years of their existence and it wasn’t until their
Doomsday book appearance as “Hogesdon” that
these two areas were established on the map.
In the Middle Ages Spitalfields and Brick Lane were
both prominent, with Spitalfields being a monastic area
and Brick Lane being a centre of industry and home to
a hugely successful brick production area. Neighbouring
Mile End was common land and the scene of a meeting
between unhappy peasants and the King in 1381 which
resulted in much blood shed.
By the latter part of the 17th century many of the wealthy
local had moved away from the area, which in turn became
a focus for Huguenot refugees who flocked there in huge
They established a major weaving industry in and around
Spitalfields. The Truman Brewery appeared in 1724, although
it was known as the Black Eagle Brewery back then.
By the end of the 19th century poverty reigned in Hoxton
and Shoreditch. The whole area was a slum, with crime
and prostitution prominent.
The World War II saw the destruction of many of the old
landmarks during the Blitz. Poverty was still a problem
and crime was on the up. The Krays and the Richardson
gang entered the scene and began a turf war across Shoreditch.
The name Battersea is derived from the Saxon settlement
Badric’s Isle. With the arrival of the railways,
factories sprang up all over the area and, in 1937,
the famous power station was built.
The industrial side of Battersea has all but diminished
in the past 50 years but its position as a good social
area has risen - nowadays it’s crammed with bars
Brixton was once a Saxon settlement known as Brixistane.
It was situated alongside the River Effra, which ran
from Norwood in the south to join the Thames at Lambeth.
During the Industrial Revolution, railways were laid
near Brixton and the place started to grow. Vauxhall
Bridge also brought traffic through the area, and Acre
Lane was one of the first roads to be developed.
Railways and trams appeared in the late 1800s, and
Electric Avenue was so named because, in 1880, it was
the first street in Britain lit by electric lights.
The 1940s and 50s saw the arrival of a large West Indian
immigrant population, whose influence has subsequently
shaped Brixton into the colourful and vibrant area it
Chelsea took a while to establish itself on the map
and it wasn’t until the 1960s when it became the
epicentre of all things cool and swinging.
Moving into the 70s the King’s Road kept Chelsea
in the spotlight with the punk explosion, while yuppies
moved the area onwardly upward in the eighties. Today
Chelsea is still a top choice for the coolest people.
Those looking for a taste of the London featured in
many 1940s and 1950s films should head to Belgravia.
This is probably the only place in England where you’ll
spot a bowler hat and pinstripe suit if you’re
Wander through the incredibly expensive grand town houses
and head to Belgravia Square where all the embassies
are located. With a touch of national pride about it,
Belgravia is a haven of architecturally stunning buildings.