Henry Squire

My Kind of Town: an ode to Brixton

Slap bang in the heart of the south London jungle
With every kind of building, some assertive, some humble.
Overground, underground, a major artery,
Brixton is, without doubt, the best place to be.

Located in south London, SW2, SW9,
The very last station on the Vicky line.
Famous, notorious, often misunderstood,
There’s nowhere else in London like this neighbourhood.

Developed as a retail hub for the well-to-do,
The Bon Marché and Morley’s are the famous two,
Now in faded splendour, memories of the past,
Historic urban fabric, strong and built to last.

Hustle and a-bustle it’s a major destination,
A place where people live, not just for recreation.
Department stores, butchers’ shops, an array of market stalls,
Some are lined up in the streets, others in the halls.

It really is the streetscape that creates the Brixton flow
The best thing is to wander, taking in the show.
Hollering, bartering, trading, everything goes,
Cherimoya, chayote, breadfruit, avocados.

Located in the centre is the Brixton Rec,
A monumental building with a brutalist spec.
Made of brick and concrete, rising to a height,
Inside a gentle sculpture of playful forms and daylight.

Perched high upon the hill, just behind the clink,
Lives the Brixton Windmill, moving all in sync.
London’s only working windmill, grinding every hour,
You can even bake a cake, using Brixton Flour.

Home to Lambeth Town Hall and the Brixton Pound,
Street art and murals are seen all around,
On buildings and bridges, arches and walls
A fine urban tapestry created for all.

The Black Cultural Archives and Windrush Square,
Electric Avenue, Atlantic Road, extensions in your hair.
Pretty Georgian houses, around a garden square,
All these things talk about the people living there.

A village within the city and a strong sense of place,
People are accepted here, whatever creed or race.
A retail and creative hub, everything is here,
There’s even Brixton Brewery brewing Brixton Beer.

The undercover market needs to have a verse,
Everything available from the universe.
Household goods and food from the Caribbean,
icons for the shelf from every known religion.

Reggae, blues and hip-hop heard on the street,
Heading to the Fridge for the drum-and-bass beat.
Music is the birdsong in this part of town,
Jazzie-B and David Bowie both getting down.

The Clash, Wham!, Soul II Soul and the Beastie Boys
Snoop Dog, Dr Dre, the hip-hop boys.
U2, Blur, Kraftwerk and Public Enemy
Everyone who’s anyone has played the Academy.

At night it seems to find a gear to move it up a level,
The bars the restaurants come alive, people come to revel.
Dancing, drinking in the streets with lots of fun and verve,
You might even catch a whiff of the special herb.

Regeneration is now the game, or is it gentrification?
There’s no doubt that this has caused a local kind of tension.
If everyone comes together and actively takes part,
Brixton can still retain the soul that makes it stand apart.

It’s something very special when you leave the tube,
The sounds, people, atmosphere, the steel band in the groove.
Everyone should visit to see what’s going down,
To see why Brixton really is my kind of town.


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