The history of Brixton

Brixton has evolved over the years from a predominately Afro-Caribbean cultural area in the 1940s solely because of the Windrush to a more multi-dimensional place with a diverse range of races , all adding their different flavour to the growing community today.

For those of you wondering what the Windrush was, it was a ship called the Empire Windrush that transported 492 migrants from Jamaica to Tilbury on 22nd June 1948. This is a historical moment because it marked the start of the postwar immigration boom which had a remarkable impact on British society. Initially, Britain encouraged immigration from Commonwealth countries after the World War II solely to restore the country from the ravages of the war. There was a huge shortage of labour workers and these migrants were favourable for the job.

The Empire Windrush. Source Thurrock Council.


The migrants were temporarily housed in Brixton. Upon arrival, the Caribbeans clashed with the natives mainly because there was a lack of sufficient housing and discrimination of colour. Therefore the Caribbeans were excluded from much of the social and economic activities so they began to adjust the institutions they brought with them such as the churches and the coefficient technique of saving money called the ‘pardner’ system. They did participate in institutions they had access to such as trade unions and local councils.

No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs sign placed in the front of rented accommodations.

Eventually, in the 1970s, West Indians were an established part of the British population by influencing and impacting on social, cultural and political views. Notting Hill is one of the biggest carnivals that brought everyone together to celebrate and be thankful for being alive; it was created by Trinidadian activist and journalist Claudia Jones.

Notting Hill Carnival.

To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Windrush in 1998 the Windrush Square was formed in the heart of Brixton. Then in 2010, Boris Johnson revamped the square into a fresh and modern look with the help of Transport for London and Lambeth council. Its equipped with a beautiful water fountain, elegant lights and open spaces for the community to host events. Today the square is used by locals to meet up and hang out especially in summertime, where also the Ritzy cinema bring out the tables and chairs so you can grab a drink at the bar and chill out there. Its also used for Brixton night market, funfairs and other entertainments.

Windrush Square Brixton. Source: The Brixton Society.


Over the years, Brixton has become a trendy place to reside for all races. This may be because of the infamous market that includes products from all cultures around the world located in one central area. The market is open every day and anyone can visit and experience foods from different countries. The department store Morleys on the high street is 130 years old, inside on the staircase you can see historical photos of the area and shop itself.

Brixton Village

The nightlife has brightened up the area magnificently with 15 bars and 8 nightclubs there’s always an event suitable for any occasion. There’s never a day you won’t see the main high street populated with loads of people touring the area, everyone spoilt for choice on what activity they feel like doing. There’s never a dull moment where Brixton isn’t busy its such a vibrant community. As well as nightclubs and bars they also have the O2 academy where celebrities come to perform and other social events occur.

Overall, Brixton has significantly changed from the Windrush era from being resistant to allowing the Afro-Caribbean culture to infuse with the British culture. Now cultures from all over the world have an impact on the community.

About The Author

My name is Chantel Bryan, I’m a 19-year-old aspiring to be a financial adviser but I also have a passion for weird historical facts. I love visiting museums to appreciate the beauty of the statues and sculptures that have lasted for thousands of years and also to learn something new about the past eras. I’ve started to develop an interest and joy in ice skating too, watch out you might see me on dancing on ice soon!

Leave a Reply

Notify of