A short history of Clapham and Stockwell
The history of Clapham can be traced back to more than a thousand years, when it was a ninth century collection of cottages on a hill. These cottages grew into a thriving Surrey Village over the next few centuries.
The original village of Clapham was centred on the section around rectory Grove (to the north of the Old Town) and the original parish church was located on the site of the present St Paul's in that street. The main road leading into the village was North Street.
Clapham High Street was an ancient 'diversion' of the Roman military road Stane Street, which ran from London to Chichester. Stane Street followed the line of Clapham Road and then onward along the line of Abbeville Road.
By 1700, Clapham became a significant village. The latter was accelerated by the rush out from the city after the plague and the Great Fire of London in 1666.
With the arrival of public transport in the 19th Century, a new wave of development began with entrepreneurs creating whole new streets of houses for the gentry. When the underground reached Clapham, the village became a proper part of London. In the latter part of the 19th century, Clapham experienced a significant downturn and was no longer considered an exclusive suburb.
Clapham continued to change throughout the 20th century. Many of the larger houses have disappeared with several smaller ones in their place. The Second World War had a huge impact on the area, particularly the High Street. The two large entrances to the deep shelters spoilt the landscape and significant bomb damage provided lots of development opportunities at a significant cost.
Clapham is now a thriving district of London with many bars, restaurants and shops along the High Street.
In 1197, the name Stokewell which means well by the stump or wood and comes from the Old English stocc + wella was first recorded. Up until the 17th century there was a Stockwell Wood. The manor of Stockwell was created in the late 13th century, when King Edward I acquired the manor of South Lambeth and divided it into the two manors of Vauxhall and Stockwell.
Stockwell was just a few houses around a village green up until the early 1800s. Stockwell Park became an exclusive early Victorian neighbourhood with many imposing villas in the 1830s.
Brixton railway station opened under its original name of Brixton and South Stockwell in 1862. London Underground built the first deep level tunnel using the stretch running from Stockwell to King William Street in the City of London. It was originally designed to be cable operated but this was changed to electric before Stockwell Underground Station opened in 1890.
In 1921, after the Great War, the Stockwell War Memorial and Clocktower was built. Funds were generated by public subscription and the land gifted in perpetuity. The War Memorial and Clocktower is the location for the main act of remembrance for Lambeth people.
Stockwell Gardens Estate was built in the 1930s as well as other large council estates (notably the 1950s Studley Estate). Stockwell now has a diverse townscape that includes several conservation areas and fine listed buildings like St Micheal's Church (Stockwell Park Road – 1840) and Stockwell Bus Garage (Landsdowne Way – 1854).
The National Musuem of Type and Communication at 100 Hackford Road, boasts the most significant typographic collection in the world.
Stockwell's South Lambeth Road has been called 'Little Portugal', due to the numerous cafes, bars and other businesses owned by Portuguese members of the community.