It’s no secret that Brixton, in the district of South London, has changed over …
It’s no secret that Brixton, in the district of South London, has changed over the last decade. Once a neighborhood known for the shops, markets and food stalls of Brixton Village that reﬂected the cultural ﬂavor of its multiracial residents, today in place of locally owned businesses, Brixton is increasingly populated with chain restaurants, trendy burger joints and organic wine bar pop-ups.
David Thorpe, the owner of Alkaline Juice Factory on Brixton Hill, said he barely recognizes Brixton Village anymore. “Ten years ago, Brixton Village was useful. I’d go down for the fruit and veg market inside Granville Arcade — the whole area was for shopping and hanging out — but it’s changed,” said Mr Thorpe, who was wearing jeans and a juice-stained shirt. In his small corner shop, he prides himself on offering Alkaline’s raw green juices at prices geared to the incomes of born-and-bred Brixtonites. “It means locals who have lived here their whole lives can afford to come,” he said. “We get everyone — schoolkids, local gangsters wanting protein shakes, yoga types, pensioners and left-wing politicians.”
Lined with trees and grand Victorian buildings, many still boasting their original facades, Brixton Hill road is just ﬁve minutes from Brixton Village, between it and Streatham Hill. Its cheaper rents have made the street especially attractive to small businesses. “Rents are better here, but even if we did go into Brixton Village, there isn’t the local vibe that Brixton Hill has,” said Gus Mustafa, the owner of the Fish Lounge, a traditional ﬁsh and chips bar that opened there last September. “It’s only moments away from the centre of Brixton, but Brixton Hill has a slower pace.”
With picturesque landscapes and easy access to the center of London, Brixton Hill became a prosperous suburb in the 19th century. The road’s old mansions are still accompanied by 150 foot-long gardens. You can still see the old water pump station that once served the borough of Lambeth and the windmill that gave its name to one of London’s best-known music destinations. Small-business owners like the grass-roots energy of the area and hope that its increasing popularity won’t ruin its creative spirit. “Music has always been important to Brixton’s identity, but many of the original venues have been closed and replaced with private ﬂats,” said Tony Reid, a pensioner who immigrated from Jamaica in the 1960s and has lived on a street off Brixton Hill ever since. “It’s the music and cultural history that made all the developers want to come to Brixton in the ﬁrst place. On Brixton Hill that creative community spirit is still alive; this area is for real people.”
Francklin Evagle, the owner of Kata Kata, a vegetarian galette restaurant, has lived in the close-by neighborhood of Camberwell all his life and appreciates the authenticy of Brixton Hill. “My customers are local and happy to be in a place that is relaxed and fair with basic prices and honesty. That’s what this area is really good at, it’s honest.”
Kata Kata’s customers range from students to musicians, all vying for tables and vegan buckwheat pancakes with ﬁllings with names such as Veggie Lovers and Caribbean Twist. Anticipating a spike in real estate prices, Mr Evagle said, “We know it’s going to go mad, landlords are greedy, but we want to keep Brixton Hill as it is. It should be the place where a 60 year-old resident can spend an afternoon across the table from a local politician.”
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Gus Mustafa considers that ...
- Brixton attracts everyone because of his bar.
- rental prices are higher in Brixton.
- Brixton has a faster pace of life.
- the speed of life slowed down here.
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