Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
This article is about the town of Vauxhall, for Vauxhall the vehicle manufacturer, see Vauxhall Motors.
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|Ceremonial County:||Greater London|
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|Postcode:||SW8, SE1, SE11|
Vauxhall is an area of London in the London Borough of Lambeth. On the south bank of the River Thames, across the water from the Tate Britain art gallery, it is considered by many to be a community in flux. 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.
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.
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.
Most Vauxhall dwellers still 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 desireable 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 Portugese community in the area and many Portugese restaurants and bars in South Lambeth Road and surrounding area
Much of the area is light industrial (like New Covent Garden flower and vegetable markets). Vauxhall also has a high security service presence. It houses MI6, Britain's foreign spy service, and a number of other policing agencies.
Vauxhall Park  contains an area of miniature model houses (also found in Melbourne Australia) as well as tennis courts, one oclock 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  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 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.
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 perhaps Vauxhall's most famous resident, living in a large penthouse on the river.
The impact of this 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.
The early 2000s also saw the redevelopment of Vauxhall Cross - an important London transport interchange. A new bus station was constructed and buses and some road traffic rerouted. Vauxhall Cross is at the Southern end of the Congestion charging zone.
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.
Lambeth 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 1999 bye-election is Kate Hoey (Labour) — the Vauxhall area was traditionally very left wing, but Vauxhall and Kennington are now represented entirely 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 tube stations:
- The Vauxhall Society
- A Strange Connection, between a garden, a train station and a composer
- Michael Carter, "Vauxhall Gardens Revisit'd"
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