Electric Avenue is a street in Brixton and the first market street to be lit by electricity.
Built in 1888, the elegant Victorian canopies over the pavements survived until the 1980s.
began in the 1870s as the area was becoming one of London’s rapidly expanding Victorian middle-class suburbs following the railway station opening in 1862. The area became a popular shopping destination due not only to the lights and covered iron canopy but also the array of shops – including London’s first department store: Bon Marché on Brixton Road
– and street entertainers. Every Christmas, it would be lavishly covered in spectacular Christmas decorations.
At the turn of the century the middle classes moved out and the area became home to a large working class population. Many large houses were subsequently converted into flats.
Post-war, the area was in decline having suffered badly in WWII bombing. Many properties fell into disrepair or were split into smaller lodgings. Such lodgings would become home to the Windrush generation (named after the Empire Windrush, the first ship bringing migrants) who began arriving in the 1940s from the West Indies, and who have since shaped the culture and diversity of the entire area. With this growth in population came a greater demand for goods, and thus the street market continued expanding. The market developed a more notorious reputation towards the 1970s and 80s as Brixton gradually became more impoverished.
After the 1981 Brixton Riots, central government put money into the area and matters improved.
Today, the street contains several butchers and fish mongers and hosts a part of Brixton Market
, which specialises in selling a mix of African, Caribbean, South American and Asian products. It is located just around the corner from Brixton tube station.
Electric Avenue, Brixton, c.1900
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