From Academic Kids

This article is about the town of Vauxhall, for Vauxhall the vehicle manufacturer, see Vauxhall Motors.

OS Grid Reference:Template:Gbmappingsmall
County:Greater London
Region:Greater London
Ceremonial County:Greater London
Traditional County:Surrey
Post Office and Telephone
Post town:LONDON
Postcode:SW8, SE1, SE11
Dialling Code:020

Vauxhall is an area of London in the London Borough of Lambeth. It is located on the south bank of the River Thames, across the water from the Tate Britain art gallery and the House of Commons.

It is hard to exactly define Vauxhall as an area - what some would call Vauxhall others would call Kennington, South Lambeth, Nine Elms, North Lambeth, Oval or Stockwell. Most people would agree however that Vauxhall encompasses the area immediately around Vauxhall station.


History of Vauxhall

There is no mention of Vauxhall in the 1086 Domesday Book. The area formed part of the extensive Manor of South Lambeth. From various accounts three local roads, the South Lambeth Road, Clapham Road (previously called Merton Road) and Wandsworth Road (previously called Kingston Road) were ancient and well known routes to and from London. The area was flat and marshy with parts poorly drained by ditches. The area only started to be developed in the mid 18th century. Prior to this it provided market garden produce for the nearby City of London.

The lands on which modern Vauxhall now stands belonged in the thirteenth century to Margaret de Redvers, a wealthy widow. She married Fulk le Breant, a mercenary soldier who was made Sheriff of Oxford and Hertford by King John, for services rendered. He was also granted the Manor of Luton, and adopted a griffin emblem as part of his coat of arms. The house they built was named Fulk's Hall, which name was gradually corrupted over time, first to Fox Hall, then Vaux Hall and finally Vauxhall.

Vauxhall was home to the once divine Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, London's playground for two centuries. The arrival of the London and South Western Railway in the 1840s saw Vauxhall becoming a high-residence, light industrial area, the gardens broken up. In 1857 the Vauxhall Iron Works was founded in the area, to build industrial machinery. The company adopted a modified form of Fulk le Breant's griffin as its emblem, and later became Vauxhall Motors.

Vauxhall today

Now a major transport hub within minutes of central London, Vauxhall was neglected for many years. Many of its streets were also destroyed during World War II or through poor city planning. To many Londoners, Vauxhall has been seen merely as a bleak place of transit. However, a significant — and fast growing — community lives here.

Much of the area is Vauxhall contains light industry (like New Covent Garden flower and vegetable markets) as well as offices and government buildings. Many companies and organisations were attracted in the past by Vauxhall's central location and comparatively cheap rental prices when compared to Westminster and office blocks such as the Millbank Tower which can be seen across the river from Vauxhall. Vauxhall has a high security service presence - it houses MI6, Britain's foreign spy service, and a number of other policing agencies.

Housing and population of Vauxhall

Most Vauxhall dwellers live in social housing — mostly quality low-rise, 1930s stock of four or five stories.

There are several 'gentrified' areas and smart roads of terraced town houses such as Fentiman Road are well known desirable locations. Vauxhall is home to many Members of Parliament and others such as civil servants connected with the government of Britain owing to its proximity to the House of Commons and Whitehall. Perhaps owing to this Vauxhall is one of the few places 'South of the river' that London taxi drivers are willing to go to. Some 18th and 19th century property also survives — most famously Bonnington Square, a community which emerged from the 1970s/ 1980s squat scene in London, and remains mostly housing co-operatives today.

There is a significant Portuguese community in the area and many Portuguese restaurants and bars in South Lambeth Road and surrounding area.

The late 1990s/early 2000s explosion in London property prices has led to a boom in riverside developments and property re-developments, such as the large St George Wharf development by Vauxhall Bridge. Notorious ex-MP and criminal Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare is a noted Vauxhall resident, living in a large penthouse on the river.

The impact of new house building — and the rise in house prices — is creating a dramatic change in Vauxhall's make-up. As the numbers living here rise steeply, long-term Vauxhall residents are being driven out of the area, replaced with moneyed people.

Vauxhall community facilities

Vauxhall Park [1] ( contains an area of miniature model houses (also found in Melbourne Australia) as well as tennis courts, one o'clock club and childrens' playground. It is open daily for recreation and has an open day once a year.

St Peter's Church in Kennington Lane [2] ( was designed by John Loughborough Pearson who was architect at Rochester, Bristol, Peterborough, Lincoln Cathedrals and designed Truro (Cornwall) and Brisbane (Australia) Cathedrals. Today the church acts as a community centre and arts venue as well as a church. Next to the St Peter's is Vauxhall City Farm which has many farm animals and pets.

Vauxhall 'Gay Village'

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern  a well-known gay venue
The Royal Vauxhall Tavern a well-known gay venue

Vauxhall is home to several gay bars and nightclubs such as The Hoist, Royal Vauxhall Tavern, Crash and various other centred around the Vauxhall station area. The presence of London's only gay gym (the Paris Gym), the burgeoning club scene and the recent opening of several shops serving the gay community have resulted in the ironic nickname of "Vauxhall village" being applied to the area.

Vauxhall Cross

Vauxhall Cross dominates the Vauxhall area. It is immediately to the south-east of Vauxhall Bridge where six major roads converge, including the Albert Embankment which exits the Cross to the north, and which is the southernmost point of entry into the London Congestion Charge area.

Vauxhall Cross is the site of the central headquarters of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), which occupies purpose built offices erected between 1989 and 1992 and commonly referred to as Vauxhall Cross. More recently, a large complex of apartments and offices has been built to the south of Vauxhall Bridge.

Missing image
SIS Headquarters

Interestingly the James Bond film Die Another Day featured the fictional undergound station Vauxhall Cross which seems to be on a special branch of the Picadilly Line - presumably it was so that James Bond could commute to MI6 easily.

Vauxhall Cross was described as "one of the most unpleasant road junctions in South London", in Nikolaus Pevsner's architectural guide to London. Throughout the 2002 to 2004 period, the Cross underwent a gradual redesign to accommodate a bus interchange linked to the Vauxhall mainline railway and tube stations, both of which are located to the south-eastern end of the cross. Work has involved design changes to traffic lanes, improved pedestrian and cycle crossings, refurbishment of walkways beneath the mainline railway viaduct, and the construction of a bus station, completed in December 2004 featuring an undulating steel-frame canopy and ribbed steel walls. An interesting feature of the canopy is a series of photoelectric cells generating electricity to offset that used by the bus station.

Vauxhall Parliamentary Constituency

Since the abolition of the Lambeth Central constituency, the Vauxhall constituency has included all of Kennington and Stockwell and the northern areas of Clapham and Brixton as well as the area commonly known as Vauxhall.

The MP for Vauxhall since a 1989 bye-election is Kate Hoey (Labour). Ms Hoey was returned with a 9,977 majority over her Liberal Democrat challenger in the 2005 General Election. The Vauxhall area has traditionally been left wing and represented by Labour Members of Parliament. The local government wards of Vauxhall and Kennington are now represented by Liberal Democrats on Lambeth Council.

Vauxhall — the Russian connection

There are competing theories as to why the Russian word for a railway station is vokzal, pronounced very similarly to Vauxhall. It has been long suggested that a Russian delegation visited the area to inspect the construction of the London and South Western Railway in 1840, and mistook the name of the location for a generic title of the building type.

A more likely explanation, however, is that the first Russian railway, constructed in 1837, ran from St Petersburg via Tsarskoye Selo to Pavlovsk, where extensive Pleasure Gardens had earlier been established. In 1838 a music and entertainment pavilion was constructed at the railway terminus. This pavilion was called the Vokzal (Russian spelling of "Vauxhall") in homage to its famous London predecessor. The name soon came to be applied to the station itself, which was most visitor's gateway to the gardens, and later came to mean any substantial railway station building (a different Russian word, stantsiya, is used for minor stations).

Nearest places:

Nearest tube stations:

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