infobox UK place
country = England
postcode_district= SW9, SW2
static_image_caption=Lambeth Town Hall
Brixton is an area of the
London Borough of Lambeth, in inner- South London. It is bordered by Stockwell, Clapham Common, Streatham, Camberwell, Tulse Hilland Herne Hill.
Brixton has a mix of residents, ranging from people that have lived in Brixton for generations to new residents that have moved prompted by a new trendy image that Brixton projects. [http://www.allinlondon.co.uk/regions/brixton/ Brixton Guide ] ] Brixton is a multiethnic community, with around 24 percent of Brixton’s population being of African and/or Caribbean descent, [http://www.myvillage.com/brixton/fe-community_history-of-brixton.htm History of Brixton ] ] giving rise to Brixton as the unofficial capital of the
British African-Caribbean communityin London.
Brixton was the meeting place of the ancient Brixton hundred of Surrey. Brixton means 'Beorthsige's stone', from the Old English personal name and "stan" "stone". The last element is not Old English "tun" "farm, village", despite the modern -ton ending. It was recorded as "Brixiestan" in 1086 in the
Domesday Book. The location of the stone, at the time used as a meeting point for communities, is not known. [ [http://www.gwp.enta.net/surrnames.htm Surrey Domesday Book] ] [http://www.urban75.org/brixton/history/history.html A short history of Brixton, Lambeth, London, SW9 and SW2, with links to local history sites, historical societies, Black history and more ] ]
The area remained mostly waste land until the beginning of the 19th century, the main settlements being near
Stockwell, Brixton Hilland Coldharbour Lane. With the opening of Vauxhall Bridgein 1816, improved access to Central Londonled 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 Lambethfrom the late 17th century until well into the 20th. It was part of Surreyuntil the creation of the County of Londonin 1889.
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
Londonsewerage system was constructed during the mid-19th century, its designer Sir Joseph Bazalgette incorporated flows from the River Effra, which use to flow through Brixton, into his 'high-level interceptor sewer', also known as the Effra sewer.
Brixton transformed into a middle class suburb between the 1860s and 1890s. Railways linked Brixton with the centre of
Londonand in 1880, Electric Avenuewas 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 once the shopping capital of south Londonwith 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. With a prominent building on Brixton high street (472-488 Brixton Road), "Morleys Of Brixton" is an independent department store that survives from the 1920s. [ [http://www.citikey.com/business/10057913/ Morleys Of Brixton ] ]
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. [http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/Services/LeisureCulture/LocalHistory/Local/AShortHistoryOfBrixton.htm London Borough of Lambeth | A short history of Brixton ] ] More recent immigrants include a large Portuguese community and other EU citizens. Brixton also has an increasingly ageing population which affects housing strategies in the area. [http://www.stockwellpark.com/stockwell-park-estate.htm Stockwell Park Estate ] ]
The Windrush Generation
The first wave of immigrants (492 individuals) that formed the
British African-Caribbean communityarrived in 1948 on the Empire Windrushfrom Jamaicaand were temporarily housed in the Clapham South deep shelter, close to Brixton. This first generation of the British African-Caribbean communityis referred to as the "Windrush Generation" and immigrated to Britain when the 1948 Nationality Actgave all citizens of Commonwealthcountries the right of British citizenship. Britain was at the time considered the "Mother Country" of the Commonwealth. [ [http://www.smallislandread.com/windrush_generation.htm Small Island Read 2007: The Windrush Generation ] ]
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 to rejoin the RAF, the majority remained to settle permanently. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/modern/windrush_01.shtml British history : The making of modern Britain] BBC Online : Mike Phillips, 1998. Accessed "4 October 2006". ] 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. 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.
Brixton's symbolic role as the "soul of Black Britain" led to a 1996 visit by
Nelson Mandela. This included a brief visit to Mandela Street, part of a modern housing development constructed in the mid 80s and named after the former South African president.
Brixton was the scene of riots in April 1981 and September 1985. Following migration from the West Indies in the 1950s (and later mix of other ethnic minorities), Brixton encompassed a (relatively) large number of ethnic minorities as compared with other parts of England. The context for the 1981 rioting was the "stop-and-search" policies under the '
sus law', whereby young black men were stopped and searched by the police without any reason being given.
Following the 1981 riots, the Government appointed
Lord Scarmanunder the auspices of a Royal Commission to report [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/november/25/newsid_2546000/2546233.stm BBC ON THIS DAY | 25 | 1981: Brixton riots report blames racial tension ] ] upon the effects of the current law. Lord Scarman's report acknowledged the disproportionate effect that the law was having on young black youth. The report made a number of recommendations, which resulted in the police having to give reasons – to the person - for any stop and searches that they undertook.
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. [Martin Harrison in "The British General Election of 1983", Macmillan 1983, p. 155] The giving of television time to the BNP was controversial, and was debated on " Right to Reply" on Channel 4. ["Tyndall's race policy", "The Times", 4 June 1983, p. 5]
The 1985 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 policinginitiatives, 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 gentrificationof Brixton.
The 1999 Macpherson Report, an investigation into the murder of
Stephen Lawrenceand the failure of the police to establish sufficient evidence for the prosecution of the charged suspects, found that recommendations of the 1981 Scarman Reporthad been ignored. The report famously concluded that the police force was "institutionally racist". [cite news |date=2004-05-05| title = Q&A: Stephen Lawrence murder| publisher = BBC News| url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3685733.stm| accessdate = 2008-01-04]
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 classkid from Brixton? They made him Prime Minister." [cite journal |last=Bennett |first=Gillian |year=1996 |title="Camera, Lights Action!": The British General Election 1992 as Narrative Event |journal=Folklore |volume=107 |issue= |pages=pp. 94 – 97 |id= |url=http://uk.jstor.org.libproxy.ucl.ac.uk/view/0015587x/ap040381/04a00140/1?frame=noframe&userIDfirstname.lastname@example.org/01cce4405a89b5113712728f1&dpi=3&config=jstor |accessdate= 2007-06-28 ]
On 17 April 1999 neo-nazi bomber
David Copelandplanted a nail bombin Electric Avenue, which exploded on market day by the Iceland supermarketat the junction with Brixton Road(Brixton High Street). Around 50 people were injured, including a toddler, who had a nail driven through his skull. Copeland was sentenced to six life sentences in June 2000.
The Brixton bombing is reported to have targeted the black community in Brixton. Copland also bombed
Brick Lane, the heart of East London's Bangladeshiand Asian community, and the Admiral Duncan pubin Soho, London, frequented predominantly by the gay community. The BBC reports that Copland intended to ignite a race war across Britain with his bombing campaign. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/781755.stm BBC News | UK | Profile: Copeland the killer ] ]
JayDay Cannabis Festival
From 2001 to 2004
Brockwell Parkhosted the annual Cannabis Festival, or JayDay, organised by the Cannabis Coalition. The police reportedly maintained a low profile, tolerating the smoking of cannabis. [ [http://www.urban75.org/photos/protest/jayday.html Jayday Cannabis March and Festival, Kennington Park to Brockwell Park, London ] ] [ [http://www.urban75.org/photos/protest/jayday39.html Jayday Cannabis March and Festival, Kennington Park to Brockwell Park through Brixton, 5th June 2004 ] ] 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." [ [http://www.schmoo.co.uk/cannabis/ cannabis coalition (uk) ] ]
Brixton is also notable for being one of the first inner city based 'Transition Town' projects in the UK [ [http://www.transitiontowns.org/ Transition Towns wiki] ]
Brockwell Parkalso hosts the now annual Urban Green Fair, first held in summer 2007. The fair is set in the context of depleting oil reserves, climate change and economic instability, aiming to provide "a simple step to a sustainable future". [ [http://www.urbangreenfair.org/docs/about.html urbangreenfair.org] ]
Brixton is home to six big housing estates: 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. The six estates account for a large part of the Brixton residence.
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.
Although Brixton still features some grant Victorian housing some housing estates have been linked with
urban decayand 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 3000 families and a mix of 1940s low-rise buildings and 1960s-70s tower blocks and houses. Problems of urban decay have been reported around Loughborough Junction, the catchment area for Loughborough Estate, the Angell Town Estate, and the Moorlands Estate. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1988896.stm BBC NEWS | UK | 'Brixton's gone to pot' ] ]
After the riots in 1981 a series of murals was funded by the council, although there is no evidence to show that colourfully painted walls 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.
There is a significant clubbing and live music scene. Large venues include the
Brixton Academy, The Fridgeand 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, The 414, The Effra Tavern, and The Grosvenorare a major part of London's live music scene. Brixton is also home to a 1970s purpose built skatepark, named Stockwell Skatepark.The Ritzy Cinema, Coldharbour Lane, is a formerly independent cinema now owned by Picturehouse Cinemas. The programme includes world cinema and regular Sunday matinees, films for kids on Sunday and monthly "Mother and Baby" screenings. The building was designed as the Electric Pavilion in 1910 by E. C. Homer and Lucas, one of England’s first purpose built cinemas. Will Self, author, says "The Ritzy is my local cinema and, as a citizen of the global village, it provides me simultaneously with the cosmopolitan and the cosy." [ [http://www.myvillage.com/brixton/arts-reviews_ritzy_cinema.htm Ritzy Cinema | Coldharbour Lane | Brixton | SW2 1JG ] ]
The heart of Brixton is
Brixton Market, 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.Fact|date=October 2008
Brixton Synagogue in Effra Road closed in the 1980s. The front of the building still exists [ [http://www.southlondon.org/Brixton%20synagogue.jpgsouthlondon.org photo] ] .
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 worshipers during prayer. [http://www.salaam.co.uk/mosques/searchmosque.php?orgcode=150] Opened in 1990 Brixton Mosque is one of the oldest mosques in South London. The mosque has a strong community focus, providing religious, social and financial support to its members. [ [http://www.totaltravel.co.uk/travel/greater-london/london-south-west/brixton-stockwell/attractions/heritage/brixton-mosque Brixton Mosque & Islamic Cultural Centre, Museums, Heritage UK ] ]
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". [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1729022.stm BBC News | UK | Shoe bomb suspect 'one of many' ] ] Some commentators described Brixton Mosque as having a reputation for being one of the most fundamentalist and uncompromising in London. [ [http://www.communitychannel.org/content/view/681/81/ Community Channel - Mosque ] ] In reaction members of Brixton Mosque sought to explain their believes and practice of Salafis pure Islam. 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 includes 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 to Muslims. [ [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWzm4o9ChhE YouTube - islam in london brixton pt1 mosque salafis pure islam ] ]
Policing, drugs and crime
Before the 1981 riot was the centre of "Operation Swamp 81" aimed at reducing
street crimemainly 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. [Battle for Brixton, [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCjZEZt3QKc] [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW6kY6HfAqk&NR=1] ]
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". [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4159/is_20030921/ai_n12745420 Focus: Gun Culture: Gun gangs of the capital | Independent on Sunday, The | Find Articles at BNET ] ] 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. [ [http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20020225/lead/lead2.html Jamaica Gleaner 25 February 2002] ] [ [http://gangsinlondon.blogspot.com/2001_09_01_archive.html gangsinlondon blog] ] In 1999 a scandal broke over
Metropolitan Policedetectives allowing two known Jamaican Yardies to stay in Britain as 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. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/1999/feb/16/4 The Guardian 16 February 1999] ] Several gangs are headquartered in the Brixton area. The "Murderzone" (MZ) gang, which is involved in illegal drug dealing, hail from the Somerleyton Estate. [http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23496314-details/10+held+in+raids+on+%27Murder+Zone%27+gang/article.do] The "Peel Dem Crew"/"Paid in Full" (PDC/PIF), one of the most notorious gangs in Britain, are located in the Angell Town area. [http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23454573-details/My+escape+from+gangland/article.do] [http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2008/06/20/exclusive-axed-big-brother-bully-alex-has-gang-links-89520-20614450/] "Organised Crime" (OC), a gang linked with various shootings and an ongoing rivalry with the Peckham Boys, are based in the Myatts Field Estate. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/7562485.stm] [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article4480395.ece]
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 Policethese youth gangs are "far from organised criminal masterminds" but shootings and thefts can lead to violent feuds. Operation Tridentofficers 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, 9mm, real and converted replicas. According to the detective many of the deactivated guns are shipped in from the Balkans and then reactivated. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/mar/07/terrorism.ukcrime Criminal gangs use Islam to intimidate victims | UK news | The Guardian ] ]
Some media commentators have called Brixton the "the drugs capital of London" [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2002/feb/24/drugsandalcohol.tonythompson "The dealers think they're untouchable now..." | UK news | The Observer ] ] and
Val Shawcross, Labour representative on the London Assemblyfor 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."(retrived July 2008) [ [http://www.valshawcross.com/index.php?id=117 Val Shawcross: Brixton Drug Crime ] ]
Brixton has a reputation for
cannabisuse, the BBC to quote 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 cannabisthat was piloted in Brixton in 2001 to 2005. Concerns were raised about "drug tourism" to the area. 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 policewas in favour of a reclassification of cannabisfrom class B to class C. Cannabiswas officially reclassified in Britain from a class B down to a class C drug in early 2004. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2001/dec/29/drugsandalcohol.immigrationpolicy Police relax attitude towards cannabis possession | UK news | The Guardian ] ] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/4625404.stm BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Cannabis will remain class C drug ] ] [ [http://www.jrf.org.uk/knowledge/findings/socialpolicy/1998.asp Policing cannabis as a Class C drug ] ]
In 2001 Brixton became subject of newspaper headlines due to the implementation of a pilot
cannabisprogramme, 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 heroinand crack cocaineoffences, and street robbery and burglary, which were affecting the quality of life in Lambeth to a greater extent.cite news|last=Moss|first=Stephen|title=The Man Who Would be Mayor print version: Out But Not Down|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,2171412,00.html|publisher=" The Guardian(g2)"|date= 2007-09-18|pages=12–15] The pilot was ended December 2005 and was replaced by a so called "no deal" police on cannabis in Brixton following complaints about increasing numbers of dealers openly selling the drug. [ [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/brixton-moves-from-softly-softly-to-zero-tolerance-on-cannabis-517648.html The Independent] ]
Paddick was a sergeant on the front line during the 1981 Brixton riot, [cite news|last=Hopkins|first=Nick|title=Trials and Errors of Controversial Cop : How Onslaught by Critics Took its Toll of Ambitious Gay Police Chief|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4376924,00.html|publisher="
The Guardian"|date= 2002-03-19] an experience which shaped his attitudes about confrontational police action and strengthened his belief in community policing. ["The Battle for Brixton", an April 2006 BBC2 documentary.] In December 2000 he was appointed Police Commander for the London Borough of Lambethwhere he worked until December 2002,cite news|last=Dodd|first=Vikram|title=The Guardian Profile : Brian Paddick|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/crime/article/0,,1095211,00.html|publisher=" The Guardian"|date= 2003-11-28] fulfilling his ambition of becoming head of policing in Brixton.cite web|title=About Brian|url=http://www.brianpaddick4london.net/mayor/|publisher=BrianPaddick4London|date= 2007-09-09|accessdate=2007-09-22] 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." [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/1896527.stm BBC.co.uk] ]
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. In March 1998, following a string of shootings in
Lambethand Brent, the Metropolitan Policelaunched 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. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/149739.stm BBC.co.uk] ] 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 ’90s." 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." [ [http://www.timeout.com/london/features/4285/Ten_years_of_Operation_Trident.html Time Out] ]
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. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1471716.stm BBC.co.uk] ] [ [http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/news/pr151204_bennett.htm IPCC.gov.uk] ] [ [http://web.ukonline.co.uk/localonline/d/0040dben.htm UKonline.co.uk] ]
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." [http://cms.met.police.uk/news/appeals/drugs/operation_trident_swoop Operation Trident Swoop - Metropolitan Police Service ] ] 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."
In September 2006 Brixton was the scene of a widely reported shooting, involving two boys being shoot in the packed McDonalds on Brixton Road/Acre Lane. [ [http://www.tiscali.co.uk/news/newswire.php/news/reuters/2006/09/29/topnews/boys-shot-in-brixton-mcdonald39s.html Boys shot in Brixton McDonald's ] ]
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’. [http://www.timeout.com/london/features/4285/Ten_years_of_Operation_Trident.html The Metropolitan Police's Operation Trident on Gun Crime – Time Out London ] ]
Walter Raleighis said to have had a house in Brixton and been visited there by Queen Elizabeth I, who traveled by barge up the (now underground) River Effrato 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 Holmesstories The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle(1892) and The Adventure of the Three Garridebs(1924).
Brixton in song
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 Clashdeals 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 Misfitswere 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
reggae-dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnsonare set in Brixton.
The town also featured in the song "Has It Come To This?" by UK rapper
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 USMalbum "A World Without Dave". It mentions many of the most famous landmarks in the community including The Ritzy cinema and the prison.
Brixton in film
Richard Parryshot a film here (released in 2001) called " South West Nine" (SW9), referring to the postcode covering much of central Brixton. Confusingly, this postcode is officially that of Stockwell- although the northern part of Brixton falls within the boundary - whereas SW2(the Brixton Hill sorting office) also covers Tulse Hill A204 road, Streatham Hilland Brixton Hill.
"Reg Llama of Brixton" was mentioned in the (farcical) opening credits of the seminal 1975 comedy film "
Monty Python and the Holy Grail".
Brixton was also mentioned in the film "
V for Vendetta" as being the location where the first riots against Chancellor Adam Sutler's authoritarian British government broke out, which resulted in Sutler calling out the army to try and stop growing public support for "V".
The film "
Johnny Was", with the exception of a number of flashback sequences, is set entirely in Brixton. Ross Kempfilmed in Brixton on two occasions for his programme "Ross Kemp on Gangs".
In the 1957 film "
The Prince and the Showgirl", the character played by Marilyn Monroeis from "Coldharbour Lane, Brixton".
Transport and locale
Camberwell- see also Loughborough Junction
Streatham- see Brixton Hill
Nearest tube stations
Brixton tube station
Stockwell tube station
Clapham North tube stationNearest railway stationsTrains operate from Brixton railway stationbetween London Victoriaand Kent. Brixton tube stationis the southern terminus of the Victoria lineof the London Underground, which has trains operating to Central London.
RoadsBrixton sits on several main roads. The A23 London to
Brightonroad runs North-South through the area. There is also the A203 which links to Vauxhall Bridgealong with the A204 and A2217. Brixton was due to be a major interchange of the South Cross Route, part of the London Ringwaysplan, which was cancelled in the 1970s.
Transport for Londonhas proposed building the Cross River Tramfrom Camden Townto Brixton via central London.
Famous people from Brixton
Three people who have lived in Brixton have
blue plaques marking their former homes:
Havelock Ellispioneer sexologist lived at Dover Mansions on Canterbury Crescent [ [http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.001002006005/chooseLetter/E Search Blue Plaques : Blue Plaques : Research & Conservation : English Heritage ] ]
CLR Jamesthe writer and black political activist lived in Railton Road. [ [http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.001002006005/chooseLetter/J Search Blue Plaques : Blue Plaques : Research & Conservation : English Heritage ] ]
Dan Leno(1860-1904) an English music hall comedianfamous for his drag acts (56 Akerman Road).
Other notable people with Brixton connections include:
*Former London Mayor
Ken Livingstonegrew up and lived for many years in Brixton
*Former British Prime Minister
John Majorspent part of his childhood in a two-room flat off Coldharbour Lane, and started his political career as a Lambeth Councillor while still living in the area.
Max WallComedian and music hall performer was born in Brixton.
Freddie Daviesthe comedian and actor was born in Brixton in 1937.
Poly Styrenethe singer of the band X-Ray Spex, born in Bromley, but grew up in Brixton in 1957. [ [http://www.x-rayspex.com/biography/biography1.html x-ray spex official site/poly's biography 1 ] ]
David Bowiewas born in Stansfield Road, Brixton.
*Danny Williams, heavyweight boxer, was born in Brixton
Paul Simononthe bass player for The Clashis from Brixton.
*Mick Jones the guitar player for
The Clashis from Brixton.
Drum and bassproducer Dillinjais from Brixton.
Daniel Mulloywas born in Brixton.
* The band
Alabama 3were formed in Brixton.
Linton Kwesi Johnsonis a long time Brixton resident
House musicduo Basement Jaxxformed in Brixton.
Fruitbatof power-pop punk band Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machineis a life-long Brixton resident.
Sharon Osbourne, wife of Ozzy Osbourne, was born in Brixton.
*Mike Skinner of the band "
The Streets" moved to Brixton c.2000 to pursue his recording career. Some of his songs deal with living in Brixton.
*Skin, former singer of the band
Skunk Anansie, grew up in Brixton
Stereo MC's, acid jazz/club dance group, was formed and is still based in Brixton
Martin Millarlived here, and most of his novels are set in and around Brixton.
James Lovelock, famous for proposing the Gaia hypothesis, was born and spent his childhood in Brixton. [ [http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/scienceandnature/story/0,,1675518,00.html Paramedic to the planet | By genre | guardian.co.uk Books ] ]
Frank Reginald Carey, Second World Warfighter ace was born in Brixton.
Iwan Thomas, actor
Nyron Nosworthy, professional footballer
Shivani Kapoor, Indian model
*Hijack, a hip hop group
* In the musical comedy 'Leave it to Jeeves',
PG Wodehouserevealed that his iconic manservant Jeevesgrew up in Brixton.
* Several members of the
So Solid Crew
Luol Dengplayer for the American basketballteam Chicago Bullslived in brixton
Alex Wheatle, novelist.
* [http://www.brixtonsociety.org.uk Brixton Society - local history and environment group]
* [http://www.urban75.org/brixton/index.html Huge resource of Brixton information, features, articles, contemporary photography and "Brixton then and now" comparisons]
* [http://www.brixtonwindmill.org Friends of Windmill Gardens] - a site giving more information on the Brixton Windmill.
* [http://www.voice-online.co.uk Voice Online] - Online version of "The Voice" newspaper based in Brixton.
* [http://www.hernehill.bigplace.org.uk/index.php Herne Hill Message Board] - Community message board for residents of Herne Hill
* [http://homepages.which.net/~panic.brixtonpoetry/ Panic! Poetry and Arts] , Panic! was founded in 1997 in Brixton, South London, and has been online since 1998.
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