SE17: A tramp down Walworth Road

SE17 is Walworth. Walworth is one of those parts of London that is quite hard to place as it has kind of slipped off the map. This is probably to do with the fact there has been no railway station in Walworth since 1916 nor is there a very visible focal point, like a square or green. It is centred on a long shopping street which is not even called a Walworth High Street or High Road – it is just called Walworth Road.

We start our walk at Walworth Post Office at 234 – 236 Walworth Road. Turn left out of the Post Office and take the first street on your left.

Stop 1: former Manor Place Baths and Depot

This site is currently under redevelopment but it used to be a Southwark Council facility which included a waste transfer station, bath house buildings, as well as offices.

Number 33, Manor Place is a grade II listed building, originally constructed in 1898 as public bathing pools and a wash house. The bathing pools were closed in 1978 and then Southwark Council used the space as offices and storage. The site also includes Numbers 17 – 21 Manor Place. Completed in 1899, they once housed a coroner’s court and mortuary.


The whole site was acquired by Notting Hill Housing in November 2013


The plan is for 270 residential homes with a mix of market, intermediate and affordable units. Alongside the new homes, there are plans to develop a commercial space, created within under utilised existing buildings and within the railway arches that cut through the site. According to Notting Hill Housing’s website, the plans also retain the listed heritage structures 33 Manor Place and the neighbouring former Pool Building, for residential and commercial uses respectively.

And if you look at the building behind the red brick one on the street, there is an interesting structure that looks like the Pool. In the gable end there is a round window with some coloured glass.


No doubt this feature will be retained somehow.

Return to Walworth Road and turn left continue along Walworth Road until you reach an elegant terrace.

Stop 2: Numbers 140 – 152 Walworth Road

This terrace is mentioned with faint praise by architectural guru Pevsner.

Pevsner says “Walworth Road has just one part of the late 18th century terrace which enables one to visualise how happy and unadventurous the road once looked. Number 140 – 152 [were] built circa 1790 for Henry Penton (of Pentonville)”.



This terrace was headquarters of the Labour Party from 1980 until 1997 when they moved back to Westminster. It was known for a time as John Smith House after the sudden death of the then Labour leader in 1994

Today it is the home of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions, an umbrella body for various unions. The confederation dates back to 1890 and today because of the various mergers of unions it consists of just five unions: Community; GMB; Prospect; Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians; and Unite the Union.

Our next stop is just over the road.

Stop 3: Walworth Town Hall and Cuming Museum

This is a complex of municipal buildings, the first of which was built by the Vestry of St Mary Newington, a predecessor of the borough of Southwark.


There is an interesting piece on the Exploring Southwark website:

When the parish of St Mary Newington merged with other local parishes in 1900 to form the Metropolitan Borough of Southwark, members of the vestry of St Mary’s fought hard for the new borough to be called Newington. While this didn’t happen, Newington Vestry Hall became the town hall for the newly formed borough.

Today Newington is another of those places which has sort of disappeared. As Newington Butts is south of the Elephant and Newington Causeway north of it, then I guess Newington is what we today would call Elephant and Castle

Pevsner clearly does not rate these buildings, describing the Town Hall of 1866 as “sadly gothic in red brick” and the adjoining library of 1893 as “equally insignificant.”

This was also the location of the Cuming Museum.

Richard Cuming, and his son Henry Syer Cuming, had a passion for collecting. They lived in Walworth and Kennington during the late 18th and 19th centuries. Between them they acquired all kinds of objects from around the world – from clothing worn by North American Inuit people, early taxidermy from Europe and shoes from across Africa to superstitious charms from across London or tickets and toys from local fairs. Henry died in 1902 and left funds in his will to create a public museum to house his family’s collection.

The Cuming Museum first opened in 1906 in galleries above Newington Library. The museum opened new public spaces on the ground floor of the Town Hall in 2006. It was also Southwark’s local history museum.

Sadly a fire broke out on 25 March 2013, destroying part of the Town Hall roof and the Council Chamber, with further water damage to lower floors caused as a result of fighting the fire.

The collections of the Cuming Museum only suffered a very small loss – around 98% of objects on display at the time of the fire were recovered. But the museum galleries were very severely affected and so the Museum is currently closed and the collections are now being stored awaiting a solution to the display of the collections and public access to them

And next door is our next stop.

Stop 4: Walworth Clinic

This was built in 1937 and Pevsner does not even deign to comment – it is just mentioned without description.



I guess as this was built before the National Health Service was created, it was the borough council who were behind the development. Interestingly this building is still being used to deliver health services.

Now go down the side street, Larcom Street and there is a Southwark blue plaque


Babbage’s birthplace is disputed, but according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography he was most likely born at 44 Crosby Row, Walworth Road, London. However if you look up Crosby Row today it is in the Borough area and nowhere near Walworth Road. So I am not too clear why the plaque is here.

Babbage is considered by some to be a “father of the computer”, He is credited with inventing the first mechanical computer and all the essential ideas of modern computers are to be found in Babbage’s analytical engine.

Keep going along Larcom Street and you will find another Southwark plaque by the side entrance to the clinic building.


This one is to Michael Faraday.


Now according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography he was born in Newington Butts which is also not here. I have been unable to find out why this site was chosen for the plaque. It makes no sense.

Anyhow, Michael Faraday was an English scientist who contributed to the study of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main discoveries include the principles underlying electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis.

Go back to Walworth Road and turn left along the main road.

Stop 5: Herbert Morrison House

At the corner of Browning Street is a building called Herbert Morrison House


It was used by the Labour Party as its headquarters until they moved to Transport House in Westminster in 1928, where they remained until they came back to Walworth Road in 1980. Hence I guess the name Herbert Morrison House, as he was a leading Labour local and national politician in the first half of the 20th century.

But this building has an earlier life as evidenced by the little crest over the door which says around the outside “Robert Browning Settlement” and the words “All’s Love and All’s Law in a cross formation in the middle.


The latter is a quotation from section XVII of Robert Browning’s 1855 poem ‘Saul’:

“I have gone the whole round of creation: I saw and I spoke:
I, a work of God’s hand for that purpose, received in my brain
and pronounced on the rest of his hand-work – returned him again
his creation’s approval or censure: I spoke as I saw:
I report, as a man may of God’s work – all’s love, yet all’s law”.


And there is a stone commemorating the opening of the building.


I guess this is the same Charles Booth who created the maps showing the relative affluence or poverty in London.

This building was the home of the Robert Browning Settlement which was closely associated with a nearby Chapel and aimed to address poverty and alleviate distress in Walworth. The Browning Settlement was publicly inaugurated in November 1895, with an address given in the nearby Browning Hall by senior Liberal politician Herbert Asquith. It established itself, initially as the ‘Browning Club’, in the building on Walworth Road in 1902.

Originally Browning Street was called York Street and it was the location of a nonconformist chapel which opened in 1789. The Browning connection is that this was where the poet Robert Browning was baptised in 1812. The street was subsequently renamed after him

Sadly the Chapel is no more. The original Browning Hall and the chapel were demolished in 1978 following extensive damage from a serious fire. All that remains is part of the burial ground, which is our next stop..

But there is still a little reminder of the Robert Browning Settlement on the building now known as Herbert Morrison House.

Stop 6: site of Browning Hall and Chapel

If you go along Browning Street, you can see where Browning Hall and the York Street Chapel once stood. Part of the site, which was the burial ground has survived as a scrubby little open space.


And there is just one tomb chest left sitting in splendid isolation in the middle.


Now return to Walworth Road and turn left. Our next stop is the side street on your left.

Stop 7: East Street Market

Street trading has been a long tradition in Walworth but originally it was done along the main road.

The arrival of trams in the late 19th century brought an end to the market along Walworth Road and the market was split up and moved into the side streets of Westmoreland Road, East Lane (today’s East Street) and Draper Street. Draper Street was built over in the 1960s by the Elephant and Castle development. The market in Westmoreland Road is still just about there I believe. East Street has survived because like the local population it has diversified so it offers more than just the traditional fresh fruit and vegetables.

Fascinating fact: East Street is said to feature in the title sequence to the television programme Only Fools and Horses which was set in Peckham and filmed in Acton amongst other places.


At the corner (actually numbers 277 / 279, Walworth Road) there is a blue plaque


Up at the first floor level of this shop this Southwark Blue Plaque commemorates the iconic comic, Charlie Chaplin. He was born locally and as a child he moved frequently so there are many addresses with a Chaplin association. However I am not sure he actually had a connection with this exact location, although he is thought to have been born in East Street so it was somewhere near here.


It was perhaps just a convenient and very visible place for Southwark to put their plaque – especially given the English Heritage one is at Glenshaw Mansions, Brixton Road, SW9, over the border in Lambeth, as is the one we saw in Kennington Road SE11.

Now return to Walworth Road and continue along until Liverpool Grove where you turn left. You will see our next stop ahead

Stop 8: St Peters Church


This is a delightfully elegant church. It was built between 1823 and 1825 and was the first of three churches designed by Sir John Soane, in the wave of the church-building following the Napoleonic wars. Architectural commentator, Pevsner says it is “not as interesting as the Soane church at Bethnal Green.”.


The church was hit by two bombs on 29 October 1940. Hundreds of people had taken shelter in the church’s crypt and over 70 lost their lives. The church was restored after the war and rededicated in 1953.


Now go down the right hand side of the church through the gardens and exit the gate. Go down the side street called Lytham Street. Turn right into Merrow Street and then left into Queens Row. Then just before the end turn right into Westmoreland Road. I saw no sign of market here now but maybe I was here on the wrong day.

Stop 9: Arments, Numbers 7 – 9 Westmoreland Road

Our next stop is on the right as you go towards Walworth Road. It does not look much, but it is a long established pie, eel and mash purveyor – and it is not called Manze!



The outside has lost any kind of old style shop front, but inside it is quite traditional. But they have entered the 21st century with their own website, patriotically resplendent in red, white and blue..

Now continue along Westmoreland Road and turn left into Walworth Road, Cross over and go down John Ruskin Street. You will see a railway bridge ahead and that is our next stop.

Stop 10: Site of Walworth Road station

The railway line which parallels Walworth Road was opened by the London, Chatham and Dover railway in October 1862. Today there is no station here but there was once.

It was initially called Camberwell Gate and did not open until May 1863. It was renamed Walworth Road in January 1865. The station was built on a viaduct over three roads with an entrance in a street called Beresford Street (now John Ruskin Street) from where stairs led up to the platforms at the south end of the station.

The station was initially well used but the arrival of electric trams along Walworth Road in 1905 dramatically affected traffic. The station was one of a number of inner London stations closed in early 1916 as an economy measure during the First World War.  Although it was billed as a temporary measure, the station was never to reopen.

Below is where I believe the station entrance was.


And if you go under the bridge to and turn right into Peller Street  you can see there is no wall alongside the tracks here, so I guess this is where the platforms once were.


More about this station and the line it is on at:

Now retrace your steps to Walworth Road and turn left. Then turn left into Macleod Street ( by Iceland). You will soon get back to the railway and this is our next stop.

Stop 11: Sutherland Square

Sutherland Square is unusual in that it has a railway viaduct running right through it.



As we have just heard, this line dates from 1862. In building it, the railway company just ploughed through this square rather than go round it or indeed buy it all up and knock more of it down. It does suggest that the railway was somewhat more influential than the people who owned the land.

Some years ago, when house hunting I actually looked at a house on the east side of Sutherland Square. It had no original features as the house had been severely damaged in the war and the bottom part of the four storey building had been converted into a separate “granny” flat. But the thing that put me off was the fact it looked right on to the railway viaduct and the trains went past at second floor level – frequently. Needless to say I did not buy.

Now walk though the square and you find it actually opens out and begins to look more like a square.


Shame about all those bins but I guess they have to go somewhere.

Exit the square ahead and you reach a cross street. go over that and down a path under a building which spans the path. then take a right into Chapter Road and our next stop is just ahead.

Stop 12: Lorrimer Square and St Paul’s church

The first part of Lorrimer Square you get to has a row of original houses on the left. These date from mid 19th century according to Pevsner.


And sitting ahead like an alien spaceship is St Paul’s Church.



Much of this area was devastated by bombing in 1941 and the original Victorian church of 1856 was destroyed apart from the steeple. A dramatic new church was built on the site – opening in 1960.

There is a piece about this church on the 20th Century Society site:

If you keep walk past the church you can see that there is little left of the original square apart from that first stretch we saw just before the church.


We are now at the end of our SE17 walk. This I now realise is the first postcode I have been to that does not have a working railway station, which given its inner city location is quite a surprise.

There were a few connections with well known names: Robert Browning, Charles Babbage, Michael Faraday and Charlie Chaplin, but oddly the SE17 locations actually connected with the last three of these seems less than clear. The other thing I did not find is any big cinema or theatre located along the Walworth Road, though there were a couple of independent cinemas, all traces of which have vanished.

For onward travel, keep going along Chapter Road and then turn left into Braganza Street. You will find Kennington station at the end of Braganza Street. Alternatively return to Walworth Road for numerous buses.


By way of a postscript I thought I should just mention there is a memorial to Michael Faraday locally just at Elephant and Castle (but over the border in SE1)

Until recently it stood in the middle of the roundabout at the northern end of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre between the ticket halls for the Northern Line and the Bakerloo Line stations. Now with the reordering of the roads it stand on a kind of peninsula and is easier to reach.




The Michael Faraday Memorial was designed by brutalist architect Rodney Gordon and dates from 1961. Like me you probably thought this was just a ventilation shaft that had been rather expensively clad.


SE11: It hasn’t got the Mayfair touch

SE11 is Kennington – and Lambeth. This is an area which does not seem to have a proper centre of any kind, but of course there are still plenty of interesting things here. We start our walk at Kennington Post Office which is at 410 Kennington Road.

Turn right out of the Post Office and our first stop is just down the road ahead of you.

Stop 1: Kennington Park


Kennington Park dates from 1854 and is on the site of what had been Kennington Common. The Common was a place for mass gatherings and public speaking, and until 1800 was also a site of public executions . The Common was enclosed and was made a public park in the early 1850s by the Government.

There is an interesting looking building ahead from Kennington Road as it meets Kennington Park Road, which we will go to first..


According to architectural guru Pevsner, this building started life as a pair of cottages put up for the 1851 Great Exhibition by special request of Prince Albert to set an example of what working class housing should be like

Pevsner describes the detail as “minimum Elizabethan” with a plan that “has the staircase in a niche in the centre, a motif to become almost standard for mid Victorian cheap flats.”


The cottage was rebuilt here in 1852 to house park attendants. Later it was occupied by the park superintendent but since 2003 it has been the headquarters of the charity, Trees for Cities.


Now go into the park and head to the right. You will come across a column. This is all that is left of a fountain designed by a man called George Tinworth (1843 – 1913), who was a local lad and who became a major designer for the Royal Doulton ceramics company based nearby.



It even has a little Doulton Lambeth stamp on the base.


The fountain was given by Sir Henry Doulton in 1869 and originally included a group of people in medieval dress. Sadly the fountain was severely damaged by a bomb in the Second World War and this is all that is left.

Doulton’s Lambeth factories were towards the river and were also badly damaged in air raids during the second world war. They closed completely in 1956 due to clean air regulations in London and the work was transferred to Staffordshire.

Nearby is a memorial to those who died as a result of a bomb directly hitting an underground shelter in the park in October 1940.


The memorial was designed by sculptor Richard Kindersley and is a slab of Caithness stone. It says: “To commemorate the wartime suffering of the people of Kennington and in particular over 50 men, women and children who were killed on 15 October 1940 when a bomb destroyed an air-raid shelter near this spot. Rest in peace.”

There is also a quotation from poet Maya Angelou: “History despite its wrenching pain cannot be unlived but if faced with courage need not be lived again.”

If you keep walking into the park, you will come to another interesting object – this time it is part of a.drinking water fountain, given by one Felix Slade.


Felix Slade (1788 – 1868), was an English lawyer and collector of glass, books and engravings whose name lives on because he endowed three Slade Professorships of Fine Art ( at Oxford University, Cambridge University, and University College London), Slade apparently donated this drinking water fountain in 1862 after feeling sorry for the local children who, after playing in the gymnasium, had been taking water from a cab horse trough.

Exit the Park at its southern end and you will be almost opposite Oval tube station

Stop 2 Oval Station

Hard to believe from looking at the station now but this is one of the oldest deep level stations on the Underground. There has been a station here since 1890.


However it has been considerably rebuilt since then, not least to replace the lifts with escalators. And more recently to gain a tile mural relating to cricket.


Now head as if you have turned left out of the station and ahead you will see our next stop.

Stop 3: Oval Cricket Ground


This is of course the famous cricket ground and home ground of Surrey County Cricket Club since it was opened in 1845.

In addition to cricket, The Oval has seen a number of other historically significant sporting events. In 1870, it staged England’s first international football match, versus Scotland. It hosted the first FA Cup final in 1872,as well as those between 1874 and 1892. In 1876, it held both the England v Wales and England v Scotland rugby international matches, and in 1877, rugby’s first Varsity match.

The end of the ground nearest to Oval station is called the Pavilion end, because it is the location of the Members’ Pavilion. The other end is called the Vauxhall end, which not surprisingly is at the end of the ground nearest Vauxhall.

At the Pavilion end there are these gates, called the Hobbs gates, named after Jack Hobbs (Sir John Hobbs 1882 – 1963), a leading batsman for Surrey and England from the first part of the 20th century.


And just to one side of the gates is a plaque to commemorate the first Test Match on English soil which was between England and Australia in 1880.


This was not the first test match which was a couple of years earlier in Melbourne, Australia. Nor was it the first match where the term “The Ashes” was used which was slightly later.

In 1882, Australia won the Test at the Oval by seven runs within two days. This was widely seen as a humiliation for English cricket and led to the Sporting Times printing an obituary notice for English cricket in mocking terms. This led to the creation of the Ashes trophy, which is still contested by England and Australia.

Now head to the right of the ground. Note by the way that the streets that go either way around the cricket ground are actually called Kennington Oval.

Then take the second side street on the right – called Clayton Street. At the end turn left and you will see our next stop immediately ahead of you, an area once known as Kennington Green but which today is green only in so far as the hoardings.

Stop 4: Work site for Northern Line extension


This is one of two sites in Kennington which are being used to build the extension of the Northern Line to Battersea – the other one being at the north end of Kennington Park.

Below our feet here is the loop line which allows Charing Cross trains to turn round at Kennington without reversing. And somewhere around here the new line coming from Battersea will be tied into the loop. The other junction to enable trains to go to Battersea is near the other work site in the park.

Regular users of the Northern line will know that most trains via Bank tend to go all the way to Morden and that Charing Cross trains usually terminate at Kennington. This is because the Bank route was built first – this section originally built in 1890 and the Charing Cross branch was created later in the 1920s by extending the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway southwards from Charing Cross. In doing this the Charing Cross branch was given a reversing loop, as previously mentioned. But the Bank branch did not get any special turning arrangement other than a crossover between the running tunnels. As a result it has always been easier and less disruptive to other services to turn Charing Cross branch trains at Kennington as compared to Bank branch trains.

The arrival of the Battersea extension in 2020 will probably lead to the formal splitting of the Northern Line into two lines. In practice this will happen at the southern end even if they do not change the line name. But changing the arrangements for the Edgware and High Barnet branches so they cease to get a choice of Bank and Charing Cross trains will probably have to wait until Camden Town station is rebuilt.

Then there is the interesting question about what happens with the Night Tube which only runs on the Charing Cross branch but which serves all the station to Morden. Maybe they will start running the night tube to Battersea on the Charing Cross branch and introduce Night Tube services on the Bank branch to serve stations south of Kennington..

Now go down this side street and follow it round (it is called Montford Place). Soon ahead you will see a gasometer and to the right a factory.


Quite a surprise to find a factory here, especially one that is still producing something – and that something is called gin.

Stop 5: Beefeater Gin Distillery

Follow the factory site round and you get to the visitor attraction and its inevitable shop selling all manner of gin related items.



This is I think the only remaining “old school” gin maker left on its original site in London – the likes of Gordons, Gilbey and Nicholsons having long closed. Of course now there are lots of new “boutique” gin makers, like Sipsmiths, City of London and Portobello Road. They may have the fancy flavourings but they do not have the “heritage”.

Keep going and looking back you will get this better view of the premises


Strange to think there were many such works in inner London but this is one of the rare survivors where the building is still in use for its original purpose.

Go to the end of the road and turn right into Kennington Lane. Our next stop is just on the right.

Stop 6: Imperial Court

Guarded by railings to keep the riff raff out, this grand building is called Imperial Court


It was built as the Licensed Victuallers’ School and dates from 1836.

Later it became the headquarters of the Navy, Army and Air Forces Institutes (NAAFI) which provides recreational establishments for British Armed Forces, and sells goods to servicemen and their families. The NAAFI was created in 1921 and it still exists today. Its website explains:

“NAAFI was created by the British Government in 1921 when the Expeditionary Force Canteens and the Navy and Army Canteen Board were combined to run the recreational establishments needed by the Armed Forces, and to sell goods to servicemen and their families

NAAFI expanded its operation over the next 17 years, supporting military bases and deployments across the world, from Bermuda and Jamaica, to Singapore and China. At the outbreak of WWII NAAFI grew exponentially to support the troops on active service, with the number of employees rising from 8,000 to a peak of 110,000 and the number of trading outlets growing from 1,350 to nearly 10,000.

Post war, NAAFI rescaled its operations, closing canteens at a rate of 200 per week and the number of employees reducing to 65,000 by 1947. From the 1950’s onwards, NAAFI has supported the British Forces at home and abroad, including the conflicts in The Falklands, the two Gulf Wars and Afghanistan amongst many others. Today NAAFI operates in far fewer locations but is present in Germany, Gibraltar, Northern Ireland, Brunei, the South Atlantic Islands and on board HM Ships. With around 100 outlets, NAAFI still provides convenience and a ‘taste of home’ to our Forces and their families overseas.”

NAAFI moved out in 1992 and the building has been converted into (yes you guessed) flats.

Keep going along Kennington Lane and you will reach Kennington Road which slices across at an angle turn left here and our next stop is just on the right hand side near the junction.

Stop 7: Number 287 Kennington Road


The building with the red door is one a number of places where the young Charlie Chaplin lived in this area.


Chaplin (1889 – 1977) was of course a world famous  comedy actor who is most remembered as an icon of the Silent Era. He is instantly recognisable as the Tramp, with his bowler hat, funny walk, moustache and cane. There is a nice piece here about the local connections in this blog from my fellow Footprints guide Michael.

He lived here as a child in 1898. The family moved about a bit so In fact there are a number of plaques to Chaplin in this area – including 39 Methley Street SE11 just round the corner from here and Glenshaw Mansions, Brixton Road SW9 which is just the other side of Oval station. and East Street, just off Walworth Road, SE17.

Our next stop is just over the road.

Stop 8: former Granada cinema

Here on the corner of Kennington Road and Black Prince Road once stood a cinema.


According to the wonderful Cinema Treasures site, this was built as the Regal Cinema and opened in November 1937. It was built for and operated by an independent operator, Arthur O’Connor Cinemas but was taken over by the Granada chain in May 1948. It was renamed Granada in January 1949 and closed as a cinema in July 1961.

It became a Bingo Hall in October 1961 which lasted to March 1997. Then the building was used by a church for a few years to about 2003.

The auditorium was demolished in 2004 and a block of flats was on the site. The original cinema entrance and facade was retained and the ground floor now houses a Tesco Express store.

I am not sure why they bothered. It is so badly done. The old entrance to the cinema is blocked off rather than being made a feature and the entrance to the Tesco is tucked away and not really very easy to spot.

Now head down Black Prince Road. Our next stop is the development at the corner of Newburn Street.

Stop 9: Woodstock Court


This rather elegant development belongs to the Duchy of Cornwall, like quite of bit of property hereabouts, including the Oval Cricket Ground.

The Duchy of Cornwall historically belongs to the eldest son of the reigning British monarch, along with the title, Duke of Cornwall.  However he does not “own” Duchy property outright and may not sell the assets for personal benefit. If the monarch has no male children, the rights and responsibilities of the duchy belong to The Crown and there is no duke. But that does not look like happening for a while yet.

This development dates from 1914 as you can see if you go down the side street.



Now look through the arch and you will see this idyllic view.


It is hard to believe you are almost in central London.

Return to Black Prince Road and turn left. Our next stop is a short way on the left.

Stop 10: The former Beaufoy Institute

Here on the left is an attractive building which has been the Diamond Way Buddhist centre since 2014.


This is Grade II listed and was built as the Beaufoy Institute, a boys technical college, in 1907. On the left section also has a relief panel moved from the original 1850s building with an image of a teacher and two pupils, beneath which is a plaque celebrating the laying of the foundation stone of the 1907 building,


The inscription reads, ‘Those that do teach our babes/Do it with gentle means and easy tasks’.”


You may recall the Beaufoy name from SW8 as they were the family behind the Vinegar works on South Lambeth Road.

More info on this building at:

As you go along Black Prince Road you will see a railway bridge ahead of you – and the Doulton building – this is the last remnant of their Lambeth factories.



Sadly this is actually over the border in SE1 so we will not be going there!

Instead take a right into Newport Street.

Stop 11: Beaconsfield gallery

How strange to find a gallery here.


The Beaconsfield Gallery was founded in 1994 by artists Naomi Siderfin, David Crawforth and Angus Neill with the aim of “providing a streamlined resource for the development and presentation of contemporary art and a desire to “fill a niche between the institution, the commercial and the ‘alternative’.”

Beaconsfield occupies a building which was the southern wing of the former Lambeth Ragged School, so called because of the appearance of the children who attended. It was established between 1849 and 1851 by Henry Beaufoy. Most of the school was demolished in around 1903 to allow for the widening of the nearby railway, but this bit survived in railway ownership. And the school moved and became the Beaufoy Institute.

I was intrigued to know where the gallery name came from. It did not seem to be named after a local street, so maybe there was a connection with a person called Beaconsfield. But no. The Gallery website explains the place aims to “offer a space for artists and audiences to experience high quality (hence ‘beacon’), challenging, new artworks in a wide range (hence ‘field’) of contemporary visual art media through commissions, group exhibitions, performances, publications and events.”

Now head along and do a twiddle down what looks like a service yard to the right. This will lead you to our next stop.

Stop 12: Lambeth Walk


“Lambeth you’ve never seen,
The skies ain’t blue, the grass ain’t green.
It hasn’t got the Mayfair touch,
But that don’t matter very much.
We play the Lambeth way,
Not like you but a bit more gay
And when we have a bit of fun
Oh, Boy.
Anytime you’re Lambeth way
Any evening, any day,
You’ll find us all doin’ the Lambeth walk”

I bet you will now have that song going round in your head. This is the song “Lambeth Walk” from the musical “Me and My Girl” which had music by Noel Gay and its original book and lyrics by Douglas Furber and L. Arthur Rose. Originally dating from 1937, it was rewritten mainly by Stephen Fry, no less, and had an eight year year run in the West End from 1985. It was also successful on Broadway, winning three Tony awards.

There are some rather naff murals here including one celebrating the Lambeth Walk.


Here should you want to be reminded, is a video.

Sadly the real Lambeth Walk is a depressing redeveloped street that looks like this.


I dimly recall this from when I worked by Lambeth Bridge in the 1970s and this was new. I had the feeling that the shops were on both sides of the road and it was pedestrianised but maybe my mind is playing tricks on me.

However there is a newish looking building opposite the shopping parade.


So it is possible the area was re-redeveloped. Note the name of the building – Lupino Court. I can only assume this references Lupino Lane (1892 – 1959), He is best known for playing the lead role in Me and My Girl originally on stage and on film.

We are now at the end of our SE11 walk. from here, you can return to Black Prince Road, go under the railway, past the old Doulton Building (which is actually in SE1) and then onto Albert Embankment for buses or else a bit of a hike down to Vauxhall stations.

Post script

I should mention there was one place I did not get to in SE11 – the Cinema Museum, at 2 Dugard Way SE11 4TH is devoted to keeping alive the spirit of cinema from the days before the multiplex. It is located in the former Lambeth Workhouse which at one time was home to the destitute mother of Charlie Chaplin and her son.