Lambeth was largely fields and marsh until the 19th century. A Roman road from the south coast is now the A23 and is remembered in Streatham (the place of the street). In the north of the borough the Archbishop of Canterbury has his London palace and the Vauxhall pleasure gardens provided more earthly solace from the 18th century. William Blake spent 10 productive years in north Lambeth ‘near where the charter’d Thames does flow. Royal Doulton’s pottery was situated by the Thames. Wealthy people built large residences in the Lambeth countryside. With the coming of the railways and the tram it became a prosperous white collar suburb of Victorian terraces. Brixton was the home of the first department stores and Electric Avenue was one of the first streets lit by electric light.
After the first and second world wars, with the servant-employing class diminished, many of the large houses were divided. In 1948 the MV Empire Windrush arrived from Jamaica with Caribbean migrants, many returning having served in the war. Many of those early arrivals settled in the cheap housing in Lambeth - which has led to amazing diversity we see in the borough today. Cheap housing also brought artists and creatives which also leaves a legacy today though the cost of housing is rising faster in Lambeth than almost anywhere, pricing many historic residents out.
-Duncan and the Bank of Lambeth crew