Lambeth Town Hall
OS grid referenceTQ315755
London borough
Ceremonial countyGreater London
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townLONDON
Postcode districtSW9, SW2
Postcode districtSW5
Dialling code020
UK Parliament
London Assembly
List of places

Brixton is a district in South London, England, located in the London Borough of Lambeth. It is situated 3.8 miles (6.1 km) miles south south-east of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.[1]

Brixton is predominantly residential with a prominent street market and substantial retail sector.[2] It is a multiethnic community, with around 24 percent of Brixton's population being of African and Caribbean descent,[3] giving rise to Brixton as the unofficial capital of the British African-Caribbean community. Brixton is in InnerSouth London and is bordered by Stockwell, Clapham, Streatham, Camberwell, Tulse Hill and Herne Hill.[4] Brixton houses the main offices of the London Borough of Lambeth.[5]


Ashby's Mill, Brixton, also known as Brixton Windmill in 1864

The name Brixton is thought to originate from Brixistance, meaning the stone of Brixi, a Saxon lord. Brixi is thought to have erected a boundary stone to mark the meeting place of the ancient hundred court of Surrey. The location is unknown but is thought to be at the top of Brixton Hill, at a road known at the time as Bristow or Brixton Causeway, long before any settlement in the area. Brixton marks the rise from the marshes of North Lambeth up to the hills of Norwood and Streatham. At the time the River Effra flowed from its source in Norwood through Herne Hill to Brixton. At Brixton the river was crossed by low bridges for Roman roads to the south coast of Britain, now Brixton Road and Clapham Road. The main roads were connected through a network of medieval country lanes, such as Acre Lane, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton Water Lane and Lyham Road, formally Black Lane. It was only at the end of the 18th Century that villages and settlements formed around Brixton, as the original woodland was gradually reduced until the area was covered in farmland and market garden known for game and srawberries.[6]

The area remained undeveloped until the beginning of the 19th century, the main settlements being near Stockwell, Brixton Hill and Coldharbour Lane. With the opening of Vauxhall Bridge in 1816 improved access to Central London led to a process of suburban development. The largest single development, and one of the last in suburban character, was Angell Town, laid out in the 1850s on the east side of Brixton Road, and so named after a family which owned land in Lambeth from the late 17th century until well into the 20th.[7]

One of a few surviving windmills in London, built in 1816, and surrounded by houses built during Brixton's Victorian expansion, is to be found just off Brixton Hill. The nearby 'Windmill' pub is named after it. When the London sewerage system was constructed during the mid-19th century, its designer Sir Joseph Bazalgette incorporated flows from the River Effra, which used to flow through Brixton, into his 'high-level interceptor sewer', also known as the Effra sewer.[citation needed]

Brixton transformed into a middle class suburb between the 1860s and 1890s. Railways linked Brixton with the centre of London when the Chatham Main Line was built through the area by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway in the 1860s. In 1880, Electric Avenue was so named after it became the first street in the area to be lit by electricity. In this time large expensive houses were constructed along the main roads in Brixton, which were converted into flats and boarding houses at the turn of the century as the middle classes were replaced by an influx of the working classes. By 1925 Brixton attracted thousands, amongst others housing the largest shopping centre in South London at the time, as well as a thriving market, cinemas, pubs and a theatre. In the 1920s Brixton was the shopping capital of South London with three large department stores and some of the earliest branches of what are now Britain's major national retailers. Today Brixton High Street is Brixton's main shopping area, fusing into Brixton Market. The dominant building on Brixton High Street (472-488 Brixton Road), "Morleys Of Brixton" is an independent department store that survives from the 1920s.[7][8]

The Brixton area was bombed during World War II, contributing to a severe housing crisis, which in turn led to urban decay. This was followed by slum clearances and the building of council housing. In the 1940s and 1950s many immigrants, particularly from the West Indies, settled in Brixton.[7] More recent immigrants include a large Portuguese community (see Little Portugal) and other EU citizens. Brixton also has an increasingly ageing population which affects housing strategies in the area.[9]

The Windrush generation

The Empire Windrush which brought immigrants from the Caribbean to Tilbury in 1948.

Main article: British African-Caribbean community

Main article: Empire Windrush

Windrush Square street sign[10]

The first wave of immigrants (492 individuals) that formed the British African-Caribbean community arrived in 1948 on the Empire Windrush from Jamaica and were temporarily housed in the Clapham South deep shelter. The nearest Labour Exchange (Job Centre) was in Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, and the new arrivals spread out into local accommodation.[11][12][13]

This first generation of the British African-Caribbean community is referred to as the "Windrush Generation" and immigrated to Britain when the British Nationality Act 1948 gave all citizens of Commonwealth countries the right of British citizenship. Britain was at the time considered the "Mother Country" of the Commonwealth.[11][13][14] The Windrush was en route from Australia to England via the Atlantic, docking in Kingston, Jamaica. An advertisement had appeared in a Jamaican newspaper offering cheap transport on the ship for anybody who wanted to come and work in Britain. Many only intended to stay in Britain for a few years, and although a number returned to the Caribbean, the majority remained to settle permanently.[11] The arrival of the passengers has become an important landmark in the history of modern Britain, and the image of West Indians filing off its gangplank has come to symbolise the beginning of modern British multicultural society.[11] In 1998 the area in front of the Tate Library in Brixton was renamed "Windrush Square" to mark the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Windrush.[7]

Atlantic Road, August 2007

Brixton riots

Main article: Brixton riot (1981)

Main article: Brixton riot (1985)

Main article: Brixton riot (1995)

Brixton was the scene of riots in April 1981 at a time when Brixton underwent deep social and economic problems — high unemployment, high crime, poor housing, no amenities — in a predominantly African-Caribbean community.[15] The Metropolitan Police began Operation Swamp 81 at the beginning of April, aimed at reducing street crime, mainly through the heavy use of the so-called sus law, which allowed police to stop and search individuals on the basis of a mere 'suspicion' of wrong-doing. Plain clothes police officers were dispatched into Brixton, and in five days almost 1,000 people were stopped and searched.[16] The riot resulted in almost 279 injuries to police and 45 injuries to members of the public;[17] over a hundred vehicles were burned, including 56 police vehicles; and almost 150 buildings were damaged, with thirty burned. There were 82 arrests. Reports suggested that up to 5,000 people were involved in the riot.[18]

Following the 1981 Brixton riot the Government commissioned a public inquiry into the riot headed by Lord Scarman. The Scarman report was published in November 1981 and found unquestionable evidence of the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of 'stop and search' powers by the police against black people. The report made a number of recommendations and lead to a new code for police behaviour in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and the creation of an independent Police Complaints Authority in 1985.[19] The 1999 Macpherson Report, an investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence found that recommendations of the 1981 Scarman Report had been ignored and concluded that the police force was "institutionally racist".[20]

In the 1983 general election, the British National Party (BNP) obtained a Party Election Broadcast on television. The broadcast was transmitted on 31 May and consisted of John Tyndall, flanked by two Union Flags, and images of the 1981 Brixton riot as Tyndall's speech attempted to encourage nationalism over racism.[21] The giving of television time to the BNP was controversial, and was debated on Right to Reply on Channel 4.[22]

The 1985 Brixton riot followed the police shooting of a black woman, Dorothy 'Cherry' Groce, after the police entered her house looking for her son Michael Groce. Although the Brixton area subsequently saw pioneering community policing initiatives, the continued death of young black men in police custody (and in one case the death of a man pointing a fake gun at people) coupled with general distrust of the police led to smaller scale protests through the 1990s. The Brixton riots in 1995 were initially sparked by the death of a black man in police custody (Wayne Douglas) and occurred in an atmosphere of discontent about the gentrification of Brixton.

Former Prime Minister John Major's Brixton roots were used in a campaign poster during the Conservative Party's 1992 election campaign: "What does the Conservative Party offer a working class kid from Brixton? They made him Prime Minister."[23]

Brixton bombing

Electric Avenue, inspiration of the Eddy Grant single, part of Brixton Market, and site of the 1999 bombing

On 17 April 1999 neo-nazi bomber David Copeland planted a nail bomb in Electric Avenue, which exploded on a market day by the Iceland supermarket at the junction with Brixton Road (Brixton High Street). Around 50 people were injured. Copeland was sentenced to six life sentences in June 2000.

The Brixton bombing is reported to have targeted the black community in Brixton. Copeland also bombed Brick Lane, the heart of East London's Bangladeshi and Asian community, and the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho, London, frequented predominantly by the gay community. The BBC reports that Copeland intended to ignite a race war across Britain with his bombing campaign.[24]

JayDay Cannabis Festival

From 2001 to 2004 Brockwell Park hosted the annual Cannabis Festival, or JayDay, organised by the Cannabis Coalition. The police reportedly maintained a low profile, tolerating the smoking of cannabis.[25][26] In 2005 the London Borough of Lambeth rejected the application for a further Cannabis Festival on the following grounds:

"While Lambeth Council supports freedom of speech and the right to take part in a legitimate campaign, the council cannot condone illegal activities such as cannabis use and drug pushing - both of which have taken place at a previous festival held by the Cannabis Coalition. Indeed council officers monitoring the event in the past were approached by drug dealers who offered them drugs."[27]

Transition Town

Brixton was one of the first inner city based 'Transition Town' projects in the UK.[28] Brockwell Park hosts the now annual Urban Green Fair, first held in summer 2007.[29]

Brixton Pound

The Brixton Pound was launched on 17 September 2009 by Transition Town Brixton.[30] The Brixton Pound is a local currency that is available as an alternative to the pound sterling.[31] The first trading day of the Brixton Pound was on 18 September 2009 with 80 local businesses accepting the currency.[32]

The Brixton Pound aims to boost the local economy and build a mutual support system amongst independent businesses by tying local shoppers to local shops and by encouraging local shops to source goods and services locally.[32] The notes are available in B£1, B£5, B£10 and B£20 denominations and depict local celebrities such as the community activist Olive Morris and the environmentalist James Lovelock. Lambeth council has endorsed the project[32] which the new economics foundation helped to develop.[33]


Housing estates

The Loughborough Estate in the east of the area

Brixton is home to six big housing estates:Stockwell Park Estate off Stockwell and Brixton Roads respectively; Myatts Field off Vassall Road; Angell Town off Brixton Road on the boundary with Camberwell; Loughborough in the centre of Brixton; Moorlands Estate, situated off Coldharbour Lane; St Matthew's, located in the fork between Brixton Hill and Effra Road; Tulse Hill a little further south of St. Matthews.[3] The six estates account for a large part of the Brixton residence.[2]

Estates like the Stockwell Park Estate and the Angell Town Estate were originally designed to accommodate high-level walkways which were envisaged to link the whole of Brixton. The ground floor garages of these estates have proved to be a major security problem.[9] The Somerleyton Estate is dominated by Southwyck House (known locally as 'Barrier Block'), a large horseshoe-shaped brick and concrete 1970s structure which backs onto Coldharbour Lane. The 176-apartment block was originally constructed in this shape to provide a noise barrier against Ringway 1, a proposed inner-London motorway which was planned to pass through Brixton and Camberwell, later abandoned.[34]

Some housing estates have been linked with urban decay and crime. New gates and iron bars have been constructed for the Loughborough Estate around Loughborough Road and Minet Road in response to a number of murders around the estate. The Loughborough Estate is home to more than 3,000 families and a mix of 1940s low-rise buildings and 1960s/1970s tower blocks and houses.[3] Problems of urban decay have been reported around Loughborough Junction, the catchment area for Loughborough Estate, the Angell Town Estate and the Moorlands Estate.[35]

Victorian building

File:File:Brixton 1889.jpg
Map of Brixton in 1889, showing Coldharbour Lane, Angell Town and Loughborough Road. Published in Life and Labour of the People in London by Charles Booth. The red areas are "middle-class, well-to-do" and the yellow areas are "upper-middle and upper classes, wealthy".

Brixton still features some grand Victorian housing.[3] As bridges were built across the Thames in the early 19th century those working in the City of London and the London West End moved to south London. The earliest built development was in Washway, now Brixton Road. With the enclosing of the Manor of Lambeth, owned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1806 and the opening of Vauxhall Bridge in 1816 development of terraced houses and detached villas started to line the main roads. St Matthew's Church in the centre of Brixton was consecrated in 1824, indicating a sizable population by this time. The Rush Common enclosure stipulations dictated that the large terraced and detached houses that were built along the main roads were set back from the road, allowing for generous gardens. The windmill was erected in 1816 by John Ashby on Brixton Hill and the Surrey House of Correction, later Brixton prison, was established in 1819.[6]

Brixton Market

Main article: Brixton Market

Scotch bonnet peppers imported from the Caribbean on sale at Brixton Market. The peppers are a key ingredient of "Jerk" dishes (Caribbean cuisine).

With the arrival of the railway in Brixton in the 1870s a building boom set in and Brixton developed into a major shopping centre. The first purpose built department store, Bon Marche, was opened on Brixton Road in 1877 and Electric Avenue was one of the first shopping arcades to have electric lighting. The now famous Brixton Market began in Atlantic Road and was moved to Station Road in the 1920s to ease traffic congestion.[6] Brixton Market is open every day selling a range of Afro-Caribbean products and reflects other communities in the local area with Indian and Vietnamese supermarkets and South American butchers amongst the shops and stalls.[citation needed]


Brixton murals

Brixton Academy Mural, 1982

Main article: Brixton murals

After the riots in 1981 a series of murals was funded by the council, although there is no evidence to show that murals have any direct correlation to the level of violence within a community. The murals portray nature, politics, community and ideas. the surviving murals include the Brixton Academy Mural (Stockwell Park Walk) by Stephen Pusey (1982) showing a mixed group of young people, intended to portray the natural harmony that could be found between children of mixed backgrounds in the local schools.


The Ritzy Cinema
O2 Academy Brixton (Brixton Academy)

The Ritzy Cinema, Coldharbour Lane, is a formerly independent cinema now owned by Picturehouse Cinemas. The building was designed as the Electric Pavilion in 1910 by E. C. Homer and Lucas, one of England's first purpose-built cinemas.[36]

Brixton has a significant clubbing and live music scene. Large venues include the O2 Academy, The Fridge and Mass at St Matthew's Church. A range of smaller venues such as The Prince Albert, The Prince / DexClub, The Windmill, The Dogstar, Jamm, The Telegraph, Plan B, South Beach Bar, The 414, The Effra Tavern, Upstairs at the Ritzy, and The Grosvenor are a major part of London's live music scene.[37] The Brixton Splash is an annual street party held since 2005 celebrating Brixton culture.[citation needed]

Brixton is also home to a 1970s purpose-built skatepark, named Stockwell Skatepark.[citation needed]

Religious sites

Brixton Synagogue

Brixton Synagogue in Effra Road closed in the 1980s. The front of the building still exists.[38]

St Matthew's Brixton

Christian churches

Brixton lies within the Anglican Diocese of Southwark.[39] The grade II* listed St Matthew's Church, located on Brixton Green, was built in 1822 by the architect C F Porden in the Greek Revival style. It is one of the "Waterloo churches" built to celebrate Britain's victory at the Battle of Waterloo. Today, its basement is used as the venue for the "Mass" nightclub.

The 1868 parish church of St Jude, located on Dulwich Road, was designed by the architect John Kirk of Woolwich. It closed in 1975, and the parish merged with St Matthew's. The church building is today used as business premises by a publishing company.[40]

Christ Church on Brixton Road is an Art Nouveau and Byzantine-style Grade II* listed building built in 1902 by Beresford Pite,[41] and St Paul's church on Ferndale Road was originally built in 1958 as a Seventh Day Adventist church by John Soper.

Brixton is also in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark.[42]

Brixton Mosque

Main article: Brixton Mosque

The Masjid ibn Taymeeyah, or Brixton Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre, is located in Gresham Road, close to Brixton Police Station. The mosque has facilities for both men and women and space for 400 worshippers during prayer.[43] Opened in 1990 it is one of the oldest mosques in South London. The mosque provides religious, social and financial support to its members.[44]

The mosque made international headlines when it was reported that Richard Reid, the so called "shoe bomber" had attended the mosque. Abdul Haqq Baker, chairman of Brixton Mosque told the BBC that Reid came to the mosque to learn about Islam but soon fell in with what he called "more extreme elements".[45] Zacarias Moussaoui, who was convicted of conspiring to kill citizens of the USA as part of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, made his initial steps into radical indoctrination in Brixton Mosque, where he met Reid, though he was expelled from the mosque after he turned up wearing combat fatigues and a backpack, and pressured the cleric to give him information on joining the jihad. Abdullah el-Faisal, a radical Muslim cleric who preached in the UK until imprisoned for stirring up hatred and later deported to Jamaica in 2007, was associated with the Brixton Mosque and began preaching to crowds of up to 500 people, but was ousted by its Salafi administration in 1993. [46][46] Afterward, he gave a lecture he called The Devil's Deception of the Saudi Salafis, scorning the Salafi Muslims (especially the members of the Brixton Mosque), calling them hypocrites and apostates (takfir).[47]

Brixton was a site of a conference after the London bombings, at which local Muslims condemned all use of terror and indiscriminate killing. Footage of the conference was included in a 6-part ITV series called Mosque. It included local Muslims talking about the discrimination they face from people not able to differentiate between Muslims and terrorists, and the local Brixton community, on the whole, is described as welcoming towards Muslims.[48][unreliable source?]

Policing, drugs and crime

Operation Swamp

Main article: Brixton riot (1981)

Before the 1981 riot was the centre of Operation Swamp 81 aimed at reducing street crime mainly through the heavy use of the so-called sus law, which allowed police to stop and search individuals on the basis of a mere 'suspicion' of wrong-doing. Plain clothes police officers were dispatched into Brixton, and in five days almost 1,000 people were stopped and searched. The local community was not consulted about the operation and tensions between the black community and the police on the streets of Brixton reached breaking point. Local residents complained about young, inexperienced police officers being sent on the streets, provoking confrontation.[49]

Gang culture

Main article: Yardies

In 2003 The Independent reported that around 200 "hardcore Yardies" are based in Lambeth, some operating as members of "Firehouse Posse" or Brixton's "Cartel Crew".[50] Yardies were historically associated with Jamaican immigrants and had a recognised stronghold in Brixton. Parts of Brixton were referred to as "Little Tivoli" after "Tivoli Gardens", a notorious "garrison community" in Jamaica ruled by gunmen.[51][52] In 1999 a scandal broke over Metropolitan Police detectives allowing two known Jamaican Yardies to stay in Britain as an intelligence tool. Eaton Green, one of the Yardies, escaped bail in Jamaica in 1991 and settled in Brixton dealing in crack cocaine. Three months later Green was arrested by a Brixton constable, Steve Barker, and became a paid informer. Green provided intelligence about Yardie activity for two years, continuing the use of firearms and the dealing of crack throughout this time.[53]

Several gangs are headquartered in the Brixton area. The "Murderzone" (MZ) gang, which is involved in illegal drug dealing, hail from the Somerleyton Estate.[54] The "Poverty Driven Children"/"Paid in Full" (PDC/PIF) are located in the Angell Town and Loughborough Junction area.[55][56] "Organised Crime" (OC), a gang linked with various shootings and an ongoing rivalry with the Peckham Boys, are based in the Myatts Field Estate.[57][58]

Members of these gangs are mostly in their late teens or early 20s, with gang leaders usually being childhood friends. Brought up in some of London's poorest areas some gang members reportedly move from house to house on an almost nightly basis, making it hard to track them. According to the Metropolitan Police these youth gangs are "far from organised criminal masterminds" but shootings and thefts can lead to violent feuds. Operation Trident officers stated that it is a "struggle" to persuade local people to testify, because of fear of reprisals. Trident officers stated that some gang members were "inept at handling powerful guns", and that gangs have machine guns, 9 mm. According to the detective many of the deactivated guns are shipped in from the Balkans and then reactivated.[59]


Some media commentators have called Brixton the "the drugs capital of London"[60] and Val Shawcross, Labour representative on the London Assembly for Lambeth and Southwark, runs a "Brixton Drug Crime" campaign. She states on her website:

"I have been raising the disgraceful state of Brixton and the existence of an open drugs market in the centre - with the Council, Mayor and the Metropolitan police....The police, the Drugs and Firearms Unit and Transport Operational Unit officers have been undertaking long-term surveillance of the area(Brixton Town Centre) culminating in a three-day operation at the end of June to arrest those dealing Class A drugs...The police will be carrying out continuing covert operations in Brixton and patrolling with drug detection dogs. This is a long-term crackdown with the aim on cleaning the dealers out of Brixton."(retrieved July 2008)[61]

Brixton has a reputation for cannabis use, and the BBC has quoted a local resident as saying "People have always smoked cannabis in Brixton - everyone knows that, people have walked down the street smoking spliffs for years." This reputation was amplified by the "softly softly" police approach to cannabis that was piloted in Brixton in 2001 to 2005. Concerns were raised about "drug tourism" to the area.[35] The "softly-softly" pilot occurred in the context of a wider debate in Britain about the classification of cannabis. Despite the pilot being stopped and replaced by a "no deal" policy, the Metropolitan Police was in favour of a reclassification of cannabis from class B to class C. Cannabis was officially reclassified in Britain from a class B down to a class C drug in early 2004. In January 2009 the UK government reclassified cannabis back to a class B drug.[62][63][64]

Brian Paddick

In 2001 Brixton became subject of newspaper headlines due to the implementation of a pilot cannabis programme, also known as the "softly softly" approach, initiated by Brian Paddick, then Police Commander for the London Borough of Lambeth. Police officers were instructed not to arrest or charge people who were found to be in possession of cannabis. They were instead to issue on-the-spot warnings and confiscate the drugs. Although Paddick is credited with the idea, the pilot programme was sanctioned by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, Sir John Stevens. Paddick asserts that he implemented the policy because he wanted his officers to deal with cannabis quickly and informally so that they could concentrate on heroin and crack cocaine offences, and street robbery and burglary, which were affecting the quality of life in Lambeth to a greater extent.[65] The pilot was ended December 2005 and was replaced by a so called "no deal" policy on cannabis in Brixton following complaints about increasing numbers of dealers openly selling the drug.[66]

Paddick was a sergeant on the front line during the 1981 Brixton riot,[67] an experience which shaped his attitudes about confrontational police action and strengthened his belief in community policing.[68] In December 2000 he was appointed Police Commander for the London Borough of Lambeth where he worked until December 2002,[69] fulfilling his ambition of becoming head of policing in Brixton.[70] Paddick gained much support from the local community for his approach to policing and addressed a rally in his support in March 2002, leading Dominic Casciani from the BBC to comment:

"If someone had said just five years ago that black, white, young and old, straight and gay, liberal and anarchist would all be standing together giving a standing ovation to a police commander in Brixton, people might have said they had smoked one spliff too many."[71]

Gun crime

In the mid-1990s Brixton was considered one of the most dangerous places in Britain, with Coldharbour Lane once holding the statistic of 3 shootings per week.[3] In March 1998, following a string of shootings in Lambeth and Brent, the Metropolitan Police launched Operation Trident, also known as "Trident", a London wide initiative to deal with gun crime in London's black community. Brixton is one of the focus areas of Operation Trident.

In June 1998 gun crime in Brixton was reported on widely in connection with the linked murder of Avril Johnson and Michelle Carby, in Brixton and Stratford respectively. Both women were shot in their homes in separate, but connected attacks. Both victims were shot in the head.[72] In 2008 Tony Thompson, a former Time Out news editor, reported that "Gun crime began to escalate following a series of South London gang executions in the late 1990s." Thompson states that "Previous Met operations were seen as putting down the black community. Trident, from the start, was intelligence-led and had strong links with the black community."[73]

In 2001 the Metropolitan Police raised concerns over rapidly increasing gun crime in London. At the time Lambeth had the highest rate of robberies in London. In July 2001 two armed police officers shot dead black 29 year old Derek Bennett in Brixton, Angell Town Estate, after Bennett brandished a gun-shaped cigarette lighter. The verdict of the subsequent inquest ruled that Bennett had been "lawfully killed", the verdict was upheld in a subsequent appeal.[74][75][76]

In December 2004 the Metropolitan Police reported that in Lambeth, police have had 271 offences involving the use, or possible use, of a gun since April 2001. Furthermore five murders had been designated as Trident investigations in Lambeth during 2001.

In December 2004 Operation Trident officers and armed officers were assisting Lambeth police in a number of stop and search operations targeting "suspected gunmen or vehicles that have been associated with firearms" and called "Operation Trident Swoop" by the police. The Metropolitan police hoped that "the searches will deter suspects from carrying weapons and prevent shootings taking place, as well as possibly recovering weapons and leading to arrests."[77] Superintendent Jerry Savill, Lambeth Police has responsibility for policing in the Brixton area, stated:

"This operation is aimed very specifically at people we have information to suggest may be involved in gun crime or other offences. We want to send out a very clear message to those who carry guns in Lambeth, don't. It is time to stop the vast majority of people in this borough feeling afraid to be on the street and make it the gunmen who are fearful of their community helping the police to arrest them."[77]

In September 2006 Brixton was the scene of a widely reported shooting, involving two boys being shot in the packed McDonald's on Brixton Road/Acre Lane.[78]

In 2007 firearm offences rose by 4 per cent in London, totalling 3,459 ‘gun-enabled’ crimes, including 30 gun murders of which nine victims were aged 18 or under. A series of gun crimes in the Brixton, Clapham and Streatham, including the shooting of three boys in one week, lead some media commentators to call the area ‘gun capital’.[79]

Cultural references


Sir Walter Raleigh is said to have had a house in Brixton and been visited there by Queen Elizabeth I, who travelled by barge up the (now underground) River Effra to meet him. However, the name of Raleigh Hall appears to have no links to Sir Walter, and the Effra is not known to have been navigable south of Kennington. Brixton is also mentioned in the Sherlock Holmes stories A Study in Scarlet, The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle (1892) and The Adventure of the Three Garridebs (1924).

Brixton in song

Electric Avenue, the street which gave its name to Eddy Grant's 1982 single

References to Brixton in song started with the release of 'Whoppi King' by Laurel Aitken in 1968 and 'Brixton Cat' by Dice the Boss in 1969. This was followed in August 1975 by a song written and sung by Geraint Hughes and Jeff Calvert (who billed themselves as "Typically Tropical"): two white men who told the story of a Brixton bus-driver "going' to Barbados" with Coconut Airways to escape the rain in London.

The 1979 song "The Guns of Brixton" by The Clash deals with law enforcement violence in Brixton. Written by Paul Simonon, who grew up in Brixton, it had a reggae influence and showed the reggae roots of both Brixton and Paul Simonon's musical background.

Before a Jam gig, well-known punk band The Misfits were involved in a fight and thrown into Brixton Prison, which led them to write their song "London Dungeon".

Ian Hunter's 1981 album Short Back 'n' Sides contains a track called "Theatre of the Absurd" which refers to the Brixton law enforcement problem. "Play me some, play me some, play me Brixton power", is the chorus line, and the issue of race is opened with the first lines, "My tea turns seven shades darker as I sit and write these words. And London's gettin' paler, in my Theatre of the Absurd." The production of the record was overseen by Mick Jones of the Clash.

Eddy Grant's 1982 album Killer on the Rampage contains the smash "Electric Avenue", a reference to a shopping street in central Brixton, one of the first in the UK to have electric street lighting installed (when Brixton's character was very different). The song evokes images of poverty, violence and misery while also celebrating the vibe of the area.

The song "Waiting for the Worms" from Pink Floyd's The Wall has a rally leader speaking into a megaphone to a racist rally mob, which acts as some of the lyrics to separate verses of the song. The very first lyrics heard from the megaphone are, "We have been ordered to convene outside Brixton town hall..." The album was released in 1979, two years before the start of the riots of 1981.

The town featured in the song "Svarta pärlan i London" (The black pearl in London) by Swedish artist Thomas Di Leva.

The song "Reggae Fi Peach" and many other songs by reggaedub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson are set in Brixton.

The town also featured in the song "Has It Come To This?" by UK rapper The Streets.

The album "Quixotes of moons fights the Wind-mills of Brixton" by Project 5am

The song "Journey to the Centre of Brixton" by R.O.C.

The song "Brixton, Bronx ou Baixada" by Brazilian rock-reggae band O Rappa, tells about social differences.

The song "And God Created Brixton" features on the Carter USM album A World Without Dave. It mentions many of the most famous landmarks in the community including The Ritzy cinema and the prison.

Brixton has also been mentioned in the lyrics of songs by many Jamaican Dancehall artists namely Assassin, Bounty Killer, Buju Banton, Mavado (singer), Ninja Man and Vybz Kartel.

The song "Sister Rosetta" of Brixton based "acid-house-country-gospel" band Alabama 3 starts with a conversation between "Larry Love" (Rob Spragg) and "The Very Reverend Dr. D. Wayne Love" (Jake Black) and the district's name is included in the first sentence of the song:

"It's a rainy night in Brixton D. Wayne Why are you taking me downtown? I brought you down here for a reason, Larry you've been a faithful little reverend due in the mountain of dessiminating the dope music to people all over the world but I haven't been wholly straightforward with you Larry but tonight, I think you're about to move a stage further in my twelve step plan which you have fought so diligently..."

UK hip hop collective The Illersapiens feature a track entitled "Brixton" on their debut EP, a tribute to the hometown of the group's lead rapper Mr. Man. Similarly, the Pop-Punk group Zebrahead make reference to a Brixton as a song title on their album Phoenix; whether this refers to the English city is debatable.

The Thin Lizzy song Half Caste, which was released in 1975 as the B-side of Rosalie, refers to Brixton. It has a reggae inspired beat and sound.

The song "Me and Mr Jones" by Amy Winehouse briefly refers to Brixton. "Rulers one thing, but come Brixton"

Brixton in film


Brixton tube station, opened in 1971, is the southern terminus of the Victoria line of the London Underground, which has trains operating to Central London.

Nearest tube stations:


Trains operate from Brixton railway station between London Victoria and Kent.


Brixton sits on several main roads. The A23 London to Brighton road runs North-South through the area. There is also the A203 which links to Vauxhall Bridge along with the A204 and A2217. Brixton was due to be a major interchange of the South Cross Route, part of the London Ringways plan, which was cancelled in the 1970s.


Brixton is a main meeting point for many London buses routes: 2, 3, 35, 37, 45, 59, 109, 118, 133, 159, 196, 250, 322, 333, 345, 355, 432, 415, P4 and P5. In 2005, the last traditional Routemaster bus ran through Brixton.


Transport for London proposed building the Cross River Tram from Camden Town to Brixton via central London, but this project was abandoned in 2008 due to lack of funding.



Brixton tube station entrance
Brixton railway station

Notable people

This section is in list format but may read better as prose. You can help by converting this section, if appropriate. Editing help is available. (April 2010)
Former Prime Minister John Major
Poet Linton Kwesi Johnson

Three people who have lived in Brixton have blue plaques marking their former homes:

Other notable people with Brixton connections include:


  1. ^ Mayor of London (2008). "London Plan (Consolidated with Alterations since 2004)" (PDF). Greater London Authority. ((cite web)): Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  2. ^ a b "Brixton Guide". All In London. 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
  3. ^ a b c d e History of Brixton
  4. ^ "Streetmap of Brixton". Streetmap EU Ltd. 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-07.
  5. ^ "Lambeth Council office locations". London Borough of Lambeth. 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-07.
  6. ^ a b c Ideal Homes - Brixton
  7. ^ a b c d London Borough of Lambeth | A short history of Brixton
  8. ^ Morleys Of Brixton
  9. ^ a b Stockwell Park Estate
  10. ^ Windrush Square Icons: A portrait of England. Accessed 6 October 2006.
  11. ^ a b c d British history : The making of modern Britain BBC Online : Mike Phillips, 1998. Accessed 4 October 2006.
  12. ^ Small Island Read 2007: The Windrush Generation
  13. ^ a b Empire Windrush History
  14. ^ Small Island Read 2007: The Windrush Generation
  15. ^ Kettle, Martin & Hodges, Lucy (1982) Uprising!: Police, the People and the Riots in Britain's Cities
  16. ^ Battle for Brixton,
  17. ^ "Battle 4 Brixton pt6 of 6". YouTube. 2008-04-22. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
  18. ^ The GuardianHow smouldering tension erupted to set Brixton aflame, 13 April 1981
  19. ^ 1981 riots timeline Untold History (Channel Four Television) accessed 6 March 2009
  20. ^ "Q&A: Stephen Lawrence murder". BBC News. 2004-05-05. Retrieved 2008-01-04.
  21. ^ Martin Harrison in The British General Election of 1983, Macmillan 1983, p. 155
  22. ^ "Tyndall's race policy", The Times, 4 June 1983, p. 5
  23. ^ Bennett, Gillian (1996). ""Camera, Lights Action!": The British General Election 1992 as Narrative Event". Folklore. 107: 94–97. Retrieved 2007-06-28.
  24. ^ "Profile: Copeland the killer". BBC News. 2000-06-30. Retrieved 2010-04-27.
  25. ^ Jayday Cannabis March and Festival, Kennington Park to Brockwell Park, London
  26. ^ Jayday Cannabis March and Festival, Kennington Park to Brockwell Park through Brixton, 5th June 2004
  27. ^ cannabis coalition (uk)
  28. ^ Transition Towns wiki
  29. ^
  30. ^ The Brixton Pound
  31. ^ Brixton Pound Moves Town Closer To ‘Transition Town’ Status
  32. ^ a b c Brixton has run on the pound as shoppers clamour for local currency
  33. ^ Brixton Pound ready for launch
  34. ^ "Brixton: Barrier Block". Retrieved 2009-08-05.
  35. ^ a b "Brixton's gone to pot". BBC News. 2002-05-16. Retrieved 2010-04-27.
  36. ^ Ritzy Cinema | Coldharbour Lane | Brixton | SW2 1JG
  37. ^ London Brixton
  38. ^ photo
  39. ^ "Lambeth North Deanery". Church of England. Retrieved 2009-08-12.
  40. ^ "East Brixton St Jude" (PDF). Former places of worship in the Diocese of Southwark. Church of England. Retrieved 2009-08-12.
  41. ^ "East Brixton Rd Christ Church". Church of England. Retrieved 2009-08-12.
  42. ^ "Corpus Christi Brixton Hill". Archdiocese of Southwark. Retrieved 2009-08-12.
  43. ^
  44. ^ Brixton Mosque & Islamic Cultural Centre, Museums, Heritage UK
  45. ^ "Shoe bomb suspect 'one of many'". BBC News. 2001-12-26. Retrieved 2010-04-27.
  46. ^ a b Johnston, Philip (27 May 2007). "7 July preacher Abdullah El-Faisal deported". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 December 2007. ((cite news)): Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  47. ^ "Video of lecture 'The Devil's Deception of the Saudi Salafis'".
  48. ^ YouTube - islam in london brixton pt1 mosque salafis pure islam
  49. ^ Battle for Brixton, [1] [2]
  50. ^ Focus: Gun Culture: Gun gangs of the capital | Independent on Sunday, The | Find Articles at BNET
  51. ^ Jamaica Gleaner 25 February 2002
  52. ^ gangsinlondon blog
  53. ^ The Guardian 16 February 1999
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  55. ^
  56. ^
  57. ^ "Gun found in shop shooting probe". BBC News. 2008-08-15. Retrieved 2010-03-27.
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  59. ^ Cowan, Rosie (2005-03-07). "Criminal gangs use Islam to intimidate victims". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-04-27.
  60. ^ Thompson, Tony (2002-02-24). The Guardian. London Retrieved 2010-04-27. ((cite news)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  61. ^ Val Shawcross: Brixton Drug Crime
  62. ^ Hopkins, Nick (2001-12-29). "Police extend softly-softly pilot scheme on cannabis possession". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-04-27.
  63. ^ "Cannabis will remain class C drug". BBC News. 2006-01-19. Retrieved 2010-04-27.
  64. ^ Policing cannabis as a Class C drug
  65. ^ Moss, Stephen (2007-09-18). "The Man Who Would be Mayor [print version: Out But Not Down]". The Guardian (g2). London. pp. 12–15. Retrieved 2010-03-27.
  66. ^ The Independent
  67. ^ Hopkins, Nick (2002-03-19). "Trials and Errors of Controversial Cop : How Onslaught by Critics Took its Toll of Ambitious Gay Police Chief". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-03-27.
  68. ^ The Battle for Brixton, an April 2006 BBC2 documentary.
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  72. ^
  73. ^ Time Out
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  75. ^
  76. ^
  77. ^ a b Operation Trident Swoop - Metropolitan Police Service
  78. ^ Boys shot in Brixton McDonald's
  79. ^ The Metropolitan Police's Operation Trident on Gun Crime – Time Out London
  80. ^ Search Blue Plaques : Blue Plaques : Research & Conservation : English Heritage
  81. ^ Search Blue Plaques : Blue Plaques : Research & Conservation : English Heritage
  82. ^ x-ray spex official site/poly's biography 1
  83. ^ Brown, Andrew (2005-12-31). "Paramedic to the planet". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-04-27.
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