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Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton
Brixton is a district in the London Borough of Lambeth, south London, with a shopping centre and well-known street market. It is a very ethnically diverse area, with a large Afro-Caribbean population. Notable buildings include Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton Prison, Brixton Windmill (one of the last remaining traditional flour mills in London from 1816[1]), the O2 Academy (concert hall), Ritzy Cinema and Morley's department store.

In the 1920s Brixton had five theatres and the huge Bon Marché department store[2].

The Brixton riots in 1981 prompted the Scarman Report which recommended major changes in policing procedures.

LGBT history

The singer Skin was born in Brixton in 1967.

In the early 1970s a number of GLF supporters lived in squats in Brixton, and formed the South London Gay Community Centre at 78 Railton Road. The Centre opened in March 1974 and was evicted in April 1976 [3]. The Paedophile Action for Liberation (PAL) group was also based at 78 Railton Road before relocating to Vauxhall [4].

The Brixton Fairies were also formed, initially as a theatre group and then as a direct action group.

In 1985 Linda Bellos, a lesbian feminist, was elected as a Labour councillor to Lambeth London Borough Council and was leader of the council between 1986 and 1988. She was the second black woman to become leader of a British local authority, after Merle Amory in the northwest London borough of Brent. Bellos resigned as leader on 21 April 1988 after disputes within the Labour Party over the setting of the Council budget. She was a prominent figure in left-wing politics in London in the 1980s and was labelled by The Sun as a member of the 'Loony Left'. Bellos attempted to become a parliamentary candidate, without success, most notably for Vauxhall. [5]

From 1981-2010, The Fridge nightclub, founded by Andrew Czezowski, in Town Hall Parade was one of London’s most popular gay clubs. The Fridge was at the heart of the early 80s New Romantic movement, and booked such acts as Eurythmics and the Pet Shop Boys before they were well known and drew famous faces such as Boy George,[1] Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Magenta Devine, and Marc Almond and Grace Jones who also performed there. From 1992-2001, Love Muscle was a popular gay night on Saturdays and drew thousands of followers from all over London.

The Loughborough Hotel became a gay venue in the 1980s and early 1990s. The Prince of Wales on the corner of Coldharbour Lane and Brixton Road was a gay venue until 1987.[6]

Gay Pride (see London Pride) held its festival in Brockwell Park in 1993 and 1994 – Lambeth town hall flew a freedom flag.

In 1997-1999 Brockwell Park played host to Summer Rites festival, organised by Kim Lucas and Wayne Shires who decided that London needed its own festival, at a time when London Pride was being seen as an event for the whole country, and other towns were having their own Pride events.

In 1997, after the popularity of Substation Soho, Substation South nightclub and cruise bar opened up in the basement of 9 Brighton Terrace owned by Wayne Shires. The club played host to nights such as Dirty Dishes Fridays, Queer Nation Saturdays, Marvellous Sundays and Boot Camp on Wednesdays – whose proceeds went to support the local charity The Eddie Surman Trust for newly HIV diagnosed young people. It also hosted Suzie Kruger's Fist monthly fetish club night in 1997 (that later became Hardon). Substation closed in 2005.

The only gay (now gay-friendly) venue left in Brixton is the café bar and restaurant SW9 at 11 Dorrell Place.

In 1999, David Copeland planted a nail bomb in Electric Avenue, directed against the local black community, injuring about 50 people, as part of his hate campaign which also included bombs in Brick Lane (directed against the Asian Community) and the Admiral Duncan, Soho, directed against the gay community.

In 2001, Brian Paddick, then police commander for Lambeth, pioneered a more relaxed attitude to the policing of cannabis possession in Brixton.

Lambeth Goldies met in Brixton.

There is a blue plaque to the sexologist Havelock Ellis at Dover Mansions on Canterbury Crescent. A blue plaque in Hackford Road shows the house where Vincent Van Gogh lived between 1873-1874.


  4. Gay News issue 66 'PAL Plans' and issue 71 reporting move to Vauxhall