History of the Area

The first record of Lambeth was in 1062 where it appeared as 'Lambehitha' - meaning a landing place for lambs. It appears in the Domesday Book as 'Lanchei'. The Manor of Lambeth was in the hands of the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1190 and Lambeth Palace was built in 1197. Nothing remains of the original building which was ransacked by Cromwell's troops during the English Civil War and completely rebuilt after the Restoration of the Monarchy.

The area was generally marshy and had just a few raised roads until the marshes were drained in the 18th century. Up until then the area was rural although a number of entertainment venues were set up as the area was outside the boundaries of central London. These included taverns, theatres and bear pits.

The population started to grow in the 18th century, but the area was poor and a parish workhouse was built in Lambeth in 1726 and it was accommodating up to 270 inmates by 1777.

The photos on this page were taken in the Stockwell part of Lambeth. Until the start of the 19th century Stockwell had been the site of market gardens. During the 19th century it developed as a middle-class suburb, although some of the housing must have been of lower quality. Looking at the photos, there is an obvious difference between the quality of the houses in Madrid Place and those on Wilkinson Street. There was a lot of rebuilding after WW2, and it is not surprising that Madrid Place was redeveloped whilst Wilkinson Street was not.

Madrid Place

It was difficult to track Madrid Place down as it no longer exists, but I eventually found it about half a mile South-West of the Oval Cricket ground on the edge of Stockwell.

Madrid Place
Madrid Place and Wilkinson Street marked on extract from an 1897 Ordnance Survey map [2]

The excavations provided free entertainment to the local children and the workmen are enjoying their company. None of the children are wearing hats. It must have been a warm day as one of them has his shirt off and the workman has his sleeves rolled up.

In the first photo the boy in the trench is stripped to the waist, the lad behind him is wearing dungarees and the small child near the lamp post is wearing braces. The tool in the trench is a rammer used for packing loose material into the trench.

Madrid Place
Children playing in excavations at Madrid Place [1]

In the next photo the workman is standing with his hand in what appears to be a giant bucket on wheels. The contraption has special handles to allow you to tip the thing up - maybe to assist in making concrete? The photo is rather dark but it is possible that the children are wading in mud.

Madrid Place
Children playing in excavations at Madrid Place [1]

The next photo is one of my favourites in the set. I think it was taken in the Madrid Place area but can't be sure. The boys are holding shovels, rammers etc and most are wearing waistcoats. They are wearing short trousers and long socks and look mischievous but well-nourished and cared for.

Madrid Place
Children holding workmen's tools - possibly at Madrid Place [1]

Wilkinson Street & St. Stephen's Terrace

The next photo was taken in Wilkinson Street looking towards St. Stephen's Terrace. A pipe-smoking workman is happily chatting to some of the local children.

St. Stephens
Excavations opposite St. Stephen's Church South Lambeth [1]

By 1967 St. Stephen's Church was grossly underused and not economically viable. The church authorities placed a contract with a building firm to demolish the church and vicarage and build a modern church in exchange for a 99-year lease on the rest of the land to build flats. The new church is so hideous that I refuse to include an image of it.

The next page covers cable-laying at Southwark.