Brixton is a mainly residential area of south London with a prominent street market and substantial retail sector.
The name Brixton is thought to originate from Brixistane
, deriving from 'the stone of Brixi' (who was a Saxon lord).
Brixton marks the rise to more stable land between the marshes of North Lambeth up to the hills of Upper Norwood. The River Effra (now underground) flows from its source in Upper Norwood through Herne Hill to Brixton. At Brixton the river was crossed by low bridges for Roman roads to the south coast (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
(formerly Black Lane).
At the end of the 18th century villages and settlements formed around Brixton as the original woodland was gradually reduced. The area becames covered in farmland and market gardens known especially for its strawberries.
With the opening of Vauxhall Bridge in 1816, improved access to Central London led to a process of suburban development. The largest single development was Angell Town
, laid out in the 1850s on the east side of Brixton Road
, and so named after a family that owned land in Lambeth from the late 17th century.
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 sizeable population by this time. The Rush Common enclosure stipulations dictated that houses had to be set back from the main roads, allowing for generous gardens. Ashby’s Mill, one of the few surviving windmills in London, was built in 1816, just off Brixton Hill
. The Surrey House of Correction, later Brixton prison, was established in 1819.
Brixton railway station opened as Brixton and South Stockwell
in 1862 by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway. Brixton underground station did not follow until 1971.