London: Brixton Market


Last weekend I went to Brixton market.  I don’t go there much.  For somewhere relatively close it is a bit of a palaver on public transport (I’m so lazy that I class ‘needing 2 buses’ as ‘a palaver’.

In a different life, many years ago, I had a shop in Brixton market.  I called it a shop-ette because it was so tiny, but it was my little bit of space and I threw all my energy into it (back when I was young and had energy to throw).   I sold Lycra clothes; the place was like a temple to Jane Fonda.


Then came the riots; the place got trashed and the insurance company paid to rebuild it.  Then came another riot and the insurance company refused to pay out on some technicality or other, as they do.  This was the point where I decided Brixton may not be for me after all and moved the whole enterprise north of the river, (where Lycra and leg warmers promptly went out of fashion, leaving me to rethink the whole business ethos anyway).

Brixton has a long history as a shopping area, dating from the 1870s when it contained one of the first department stores (the Bon Marche building now home to a TKMax) plus an outdoor street market on nearby Atlantic road.

street market

street market

The inter-war years were Brixton’s shopping heyday and there are three indoor arcades, all 1920s/30s built: Reliance (where I was in the 1980s), Market row and Brixton village, and it is possible to walk from one to another with only the minimum of time spent getting wet outdoors.  The street market is still nearby too and on the second Saturday of the month there is a craft market.

The craft market

The craft market; trust me it gets busy later

The area has been gentrified up considerably in recent years; certainly since my market days.  It even turns up on tourist itineraries now and visitors come on ‘Brixton cultural visits’.

The food places are always popular.  Apparently there are rules to limit the number of food vendors, so it doesn't end up as just a food hall.

The food places are always popular, some of the shops not so much so I think. Apparently there are rules to limit the number of food vendors, so it doesn’t end up as just a food hall.  I counted 4 fishmongers in one arcade, which does seem a lot.

Other things to go to Brixton for include the Brixton Academy, a long running music venue (you’re supposed to call it the O2 now but I’m not playing their corporate game).

Brockwell Park is nice too, and contains the Lido, although unsurprisingly the Lido is closed in November.

Brockwell Park.  No, obviously this picture wasn't taken in November

Brockwell Park. No, obviously this picture wasn’t taken in November

Categories: London

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