This year's Lambeth Archives Open Day will be on Saturday 25th September, and the theme will be 'A womans's place in Lambeth's history'. As usual there will be exhibitions by local societies, help with local and family history, sales of public-ations, and a programme of talks through-out the day. The Open Day is from 10.0am to 5.0pm and admission is free.
Believe it or not, but our neighbours, the Camberwell Society, have their eyes on one of our most important listed buildings! Brunswick House, Grade II*, stands at the junction of Nine Elms Lane and Wandsworth Road where it is overshadowed by the vast StGeorge Wharf development and further threatened by plans for a 50-storey circular tower, now awaiting the outcome of a public inquiry. The Camberwell Society are now supporting a proposal to 'move' Brusnwick House to a site between Camberwell Grove and Grove Lane. How they intend to move it is somewhat unclear - some buildings, mainly timber framed ones, can be moved bodily on rollers, but there are two railway viaducts between Brunswick House and its intended site. It could be moved brick by brick but what then would become of the substantial stucco work which decorates it?
Either solution would require Listed Building consent which is unlikely to be granted, and its re-erection would, as a correspondent to the Camberwell Society's latest newsletter points out, have to comply with present-day building regulations as to structure, daylighting, and energy conserv-ation. If Camberwell want a 'replica' of Brunswick House (which is, after all, the most they can hope to achieve) why don't they go ahead and build it, leaving the original where it is? There is, of course, the possibility that some other party could have an interest in a possible vacant site at Vauxhall?
The Camberwell Society are holding an open meeting to debate the future of Brunswick House on Thursday 16th September, commencing at 7.0pm, at the Camberwell College of Arts, Wilson Road SE5. It could be an interesting, if perhaps academic, discussion!
The Society was represented at the recent Public Inquiry into the proposal for a 50-storey 180metre high circular tower on the river frontage by Nine Elms Lane, part of one of the many revisions to the massive StGeorge's Wharf development on the former Effra site at Vauxhall. The tower is opposed by both Lambeth and Westminster Councils but has the support of Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London.
Every year hundreds of buildings not normally open to the public are opened for the Open House Weekend which falls this year on the 18th & 19th September. Those in Lambeth include Lambeth Palace (open Saturday 10.0-3.0), The Old Vic Theatre and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, at no.1 Lambeth High Street (both Saturday 10.0-1.0), and StJohn's Waterloo Road (Sat or Sun 10.0-5.0).
There will also be one-hour guided tours of the South Bank Area on Saturday at 10am and 12.0noon: places must be booked and then meet at the OXO Tower Wharf. For a full London list of open buildings, send an A4 SAE (with 60p stamp) and �2 cheque (payable to London Open House) to PO Box 25361, London NW5 1GY, or visit the Open House website at www.londonopenhouse.org.
Latest news reports suggest that by the time you read this the new bus station at Vauxhall Cross will be operational, though some work will still not be completed until October. The two pedestrian tunnels under the railway viaduct by Vauxhall station will also be officially opened this month with specially designed artwork by Free Form Arts Trust on vitreous enamel panels and new lighting.
Despite opposition from a majority of those who responded to consultation on Ken Livingstone's proposal to extend the Congestion Charge area to Kensington and Chelsea, the Mayor has announced that he intends to go ahead with detailed proposals for the extended zone. The extension is supported by Philip Connolly, campaigns manager of Living Streets (the Pedestrian' Association), but opposed by Merrick Cockell, leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, although one of the strongest arguments against the scheme would be the granting of a 90% discount to Kensington and Chelsea residents who wish to drive into the existing zone. The �� exemption proposed for the Vauxhall Bridge Road - Park Lane - Edgware Road route through the middle of the extended zone could substantially increase traffic through the newly redesigned Vauxhall Cross junction. It remains to be seen how this interchange will work once the new bus station is eventually operating.
The Conservatives' shadow Transport spokesman's suggestion that cars carrying two or more adults should be permitted to use bus lanes, on the grounds that this would encourage car-sharing, seems more likely to be aimed at placating the users of chauffeur-driven cars.
On Saturday mornings we go walking through Vauxhall, my partner and I, with our toddler in her pram. We take a detour through Vauxhall Park, where the drunks are still sleeping off the excesses of the day before, we pass the railway arches and watch dazed young people spilling out from nightclubs into the arms of taxi touts, and make our way to the city farm just behind Kennington Lane. The goats, donkeys, sheep, cows and horses are being let out of their pens, and they chase each other round the paddock, bucking and braying. We go in and pick up the trembl-ing guinea pigs, stroke the three legged cat and make our way into the adjoining allotments to marvel at the fat pumpkins.
Then we head back to the railway arches, to the Madeira Bakery for cod fritters and cakes. Our bellies full, we go to the muddy banks of the Thames to watch the river birds and gaze up at the windows of the MI6 building, in the vain hope of catching a glimpse of M or one of her colleagues.
I knew Vauxhall 25 years ago, having lived with my parents in a house in Stockwell from the 1970s. My mother remembers when there was no Sainsbury's at Nine Elms. The main shops were in the small arcade near Stockwell tube station, and at week-ends they were only open for a few hours on a Saturday. The area seemed grey and barren, and it held no attraction for me.
But since returning to live here in February last year, I have found it transformed, largely by the Portuguese. It is on our morning walks that my enthusiasm for our neighbourhood has grown. We take real pleasure in where we live, and we love spending week-ends here. For now, we don't want to swap or two-bedroom garden-less flat for a semi in a boring suburb.
I was asked to write about what I like and dislike in Vauxhall, and I am happy to say the list of pros is longer than the cons. These are the things I like:
Juliette Garside, our most recent new member, works for the London Evening Standard, and has lived with her partner and daughter at Heyford Terrace since February last year.
The early twentieth century artist, Arthur Rackham, is perhaps best known for his illustrations for children's books, including both Grimm's and Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales, as well as Arthurian and Wagnerian legends. What is not so widely known is that for the first eighteen years of his life he lived in South Lambeth.
Prompted by a visit to last year's exhibit-ion of his work at Dulwich Picture Gallery, Vauxhall society member Olga Leapman has researched his life and reveals that Rackham was born at 210 South Lambeth Road in 1867, the fourth of twelve children of Alfred Rackham, a senior clerk of the High Court, and his wife Anne.
Houses in South Lambeth Road have since been renumbered, but no.210 stood near the corner of Mawbey Street, which then extended through to the South Lambeth Road, facing the garden of Turret House, formerly The Ark, home of 17thcentury gardeners, John Tradescant, father and son. Knights House, part of the Mawbey Brough estate, now covers the site of no.210, while the houses of Tradescant Road and Walberswick Street cover the site of Turret House.
When 12 years old, young Arthur was enrolled at the City of London School in Cheapside where he won prizes for drawing. After leaving school at 16, by which time the family had moved to no.27 Albert Square, he spent six months in Australia before returning to join the Lambeth School of Art (now the City and Guilds), working as an insurance clerk at Westminster Fire Office to earn his keep.
From 1890 he earned money by drawing for books and magazines, and made his name with illustrations for 'Grimms' Fairy Tales' in 1900, and gained a reputation in the United States for illustrations to 'Rip Van Winkle' in 1905. In his lifetime he illustrated more than 60 books, but was also an accomplished painter in water-colours and oils.
Your Society needs you! Several of our most active members are now involved in the various Town Centre Forums, and in the many groups set up to protect our Libraries and Open Spaces, leaving the administration of the Society, the product-ion of our Newsletter, and wider planning issues to a dedicated few.
We particularly need help with research into the history of our area and with regular scrutiny of the many development proposals on which the relevant local authorities invite our comments. We also need more committee members, who can spare perhaps half-a-dozen evenings a year to ensure that the Society is run in accordance with its Charitable status, and, above all, we need a few more people to turn up to our Annual General Meeting
If you want the Society to continue, its up to you!