Discover Lambeth

London changes in a million imperceptible ways every day. All that remains after the flux are the stories – stories about the people, places and issues that define it. This project, steered by Beefeater and VICE, aims to capture these stories, shining new light on five London boroughs with five gifted photographers.

Of all 32 London boroughs, Lambeth is the one with the most dramatic zonal variations. At its northern tip is the South Bank, the busiest stretch of the Thames. At its heart is Brixton, nightlife centre and hub of London’s Afro-Caribbean population. In the south dozes the suburbia of Norwood and Streatham.

As such, it’s hard to pin down any overarching cultural atmosphere – there is no distinct “vibe” that can link, say, the Oval cricket ground to the hedonistic spate of all-night clubs in Vauxhall. Lambeth has been the base of operations for the UK’s only official Black Panther group just as it has played host to the less radically minded patrons of the National Theatre.

In a sense, Lambeth’s jarring mix of arenas and people make it the most London borough of all. Here, we capture it through the lens of photographer Theo Cottle, and speak to skateshop owner Daphne Greca, poet James Massiah and party promoters, Local.

Royal Vauxhall Tavern

Vauxhall is home to south London’s most renowned gay nightlife district. The Eagle, Union and Fire all have their merits but the lynchpin is the Royal Vauxhall Tavern at the southwest tip of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The oldest surviving gay venue in London, the RVT holds regular drag events and its Saturday night soiree Duckie is hosted by Amy Lamé, London’s first ever Night Tsar.

Places Nearby:

  • Tamesis Dock (Bar)
  • Newport Street Gallery (Gallery)
  • Duchy Arms (Bar)
  • Prince of Wales (Pub)
  • Zeitgeist London (Pub)

Beefeater Distillery

Established in 1863, the oldest operational gin distillers in London have been based at the Beefeater Distillery site since 1958, opening up for guided tours in the last few years. After learning about the distilling process and the “gin craze” of the 18th century – when the spirit earned the nickname “mother’s ruin” on account of its purported home-ruining qualities – why not head to nearby Gasworks gallery?

Places Nearby:

  • Hayward Gallery (Gallery)
  • House of VANS (Culture hub)
  • The Ragged Canteen (Vegetarian cafe)
  • Black Dog (Pub)
  • Fire (Club)

St George Warf Tower

The Shard cops a lot of flak, but if Londoners are looking for a real symbol of the city’s tussle with the darker parts of its own soul, they should look west, where St George’s Wharf Tower stands by the Thames as a monument to the capital’s housing crisis. A Guardian investigation found that most of the homes in the 50-storey complex are empty for vast swathes of the year, as rough sleeping and house prices skyrocket.

Places Nearby:

  • Alice's Adventures Underground (Performance art)
  • Old Paradise Yard (Creative hub)
  • Brunswick House (Restaurant)
  • Lightbox (Club)
  • The Cavendish Arms (Venue)

The Oval Gasholders

These days, the world’s most famous gasometer does little more than hove into view every five minutes during televised test matches. Such humid, languorous English summers are its retirement present; new efficiencies in gas retention triggering tragic plans to destroy all the UK’s gasometers. Luckily, the main Oval gasholder is a listed building and appears likely to survive the town planners’ axe.

Places Nearby:

  • Southbank Skatepark (Skatepark)
  • Southbank Book Fair (Market)
  • The Kennington (Pub)
  • Cinema Museum (Museum)
  • Cable Cafe (Bar)

Stockwell Bus Garage

Built on a Luftwaffe bombsite, this Grade-II listed feat of post-war architecture was named by Will Self as South London’s most important building. “A pod of whales, a concrete Leviathan, frozen in mid arch as they swim through the rather choppy brick sea of south London,” is how he put it. Easing the ebb and flow of city life, the depot gives buses a place to sleep away from the noise of Brixton and Clapham.

Places Nearby:

  • Tate Britain (Gallery)
  • Hot Stuff (Restaurant)
  • The Dog House (Pub)
  • The Swan (Club)
  • Eagle London (Club)

Black Cultural Archives

In 2014, Brixton's Windrush Square became the fitting home of the Black Cultural Archives, founded in 1981 to “record and preserve the history of people of African descent in Britain”. The district was the hub of black rights pride and protest in the 70s and 80s, and today the BCA preserves that history and runs a programme of community events in an area beset at late by disruptive gentrification.

Places Nearby:

  • O2 Academy Brixton (Venue)
  • Brockwell Park (Park)
  • Whirled Cinema (Cinema)
  • Cafe Cairo (Venue)
  • Club 414 (Club)

Ritzy Cinema

The Ritzy has transcended its most obvious function as a cinema – a series of actions against unfair pay and working conditions have made it a voice for employment rights in London. It’s also been the backdrop to the series of protests and celebrations that have taken place in Windrush Square over the last few years,  everything from Black Lives Matter rallies to the public gathering on the night of David Bowie’s death.

Places Nearby:

  • Gremio de Brixton (Tapas bar)
  • Herne Hill Market (Market)
  • The Prince Of Wales Brixton (Venue)
  • Crown & Anchor (Pub)
  • Hootananny Brixton (Music venue)

Pullman Court

Pullman Court's modernist design makes it look as if it's been beamed in from golden era LA, a few pink lawn flamingos and plumes of pampas grass all that were lost in the teleportation. Designed in the 1930s with young professionals in mind, its current residents’ committee care about it zealously, and strive to keep the communal vibe alive with summer barbecues and Christmas parties.

Places Nearby:

  • SO.UK (Bar)
  • The Rookery (Restaurant)
  • Pratts and Payne (Bar)
  • Hideaway (Venue)
  • Negril (Restaurant)

Southwyck House

Commonly mistaken for Brixton Prison, Barrier Block's neobrutalist exterior – pocked with tiny windows and giant concrete towers – gives the impression that it must be a terrible place for humans to live out their lives. But follow the pathways through this uncompromising outer shield and you’ll find layered gardens and terraces built with harmonious coexistence in mind.

Places Nearby:

  • The Sun of Camberwell (Pub)
  • Granville Arcade (Shopping arcade)
  • Seven at Brixton (Cocktails and tapas)
  • Ruskin Park (Park)
  • Phonox (Club)

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