BRIXTON MARKETS - RELIANCE ARCADE, MARKET ROW AND GRANVILLE ARCADE (BRIXTON VILLAGE)
- Heritage Category:
- Listed Building
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Statutory Address:
- BRIXTON MARKETS - RELIANCE ARCADE, MARKET ROW AND GRANVILLE ARCADE (BRIXTON VILLAGE)
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- Statutory Address:
- BRIXTON MARKETS - RELIANCE ARCADE, MARKET ROW AND GRANVILLE ARCADE (BRIXTON VILLAGE)
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Greater London Authority
- Lambeth (London Borough)
- National Grid Reference:
- TQ 31070 75348, TQ 31170 75347, TQ 31250 75412
Reasons for Designation
The three market buildings, Reliance Arcade of 1925, Market Row of 1928, and Granville Arcade (now Brixton Village) of 1935-8 are listed for the following principal reasons: * Architectural design: while essentially modest inter-war structures there is interest in the early use of the Egyptian style in the façade of buff faience with polychrome detailing at Reliance Arcade; * Interiors: Reliance Arcade retains black vitrolite in the tiny shops¿ frontages; the open glazed and concrete truss roof structure of Market Row and the open glazed and curved steel truss roof structure of Granville Arcade (Brixton Village) impressively lights the shopping avenues inside, the plan of which are of particular interest at Granville; * Historic interest: the well-known Brixton Market complex formed the commercial and social heart of the extensive Afro-Caribbean community that settled in Brixton after WWII. The successful adoption of the markets is the clearest architectural manifestation of the major wave of immigration that had such an important impact on the cultural and social landscape of post-war Britain, and is thus a site with considerable historical resonance.
Brixton Markets - Reliance Arcade, Market Row and Granville Arcade (Brixton Village)
Also Known As: Granville Arcade (Brixton Village), COLDHARBOUR LANE Market Row, ATLANTIC ROAD Market Row, COLDHARBOUR LANE Market Row, ELECTRIC LANE Reliance Arcade, 455, BRIXTON ROAD Reliance Arcade, ELECTRIC LANE
Covered markets for fruit, vegetables and sundry goods. Reliance Arcade was built 1923-5, Market Row in 1928 by Andrews and Peascod, and Granville Arcade (now called Brixton Village) in 1935-8 by Alfred and Vincent Burr. Brick and concrete construction, and precast reinforced open arched concrete truss roof to Market Row. The markets were refurbished in 1996 and there have been regular late C20 alterations to the shops.
RELIANCE ARCADE is a straight, narrow arcade running east-west from Electric Lane to Brixton Road, bisecting an architecturally-unrelated block of mainly inter-war buildings. It comprises a narrow avenue of covered market accommodation running from Brixton Road to Electric Lane with entrances at either end. The west elevation is of two storeys, the upper floor rendered with brightly-coloured modern signage. The ground floor entrance has a modern frontage with metal roller shutters. This elevation is of lesser interest. The east elevation forms the primary external interest. The façade is in buff faience with red, green, yellow and blue Art Deco Egyptian-style detailing in the small columns to the upper-floor window and a coved, fluted cornice and above the ground floor door and windows. There is an original sign identifying 'Reliance Arcade' in the transom above the entrance. The ground floor has been painted, masking the original faience surrounds, and the two small flanking shop windows blocked.
The interior consists of numerous shallow shops to each side of the avenue. These are divided by wooden pilasters with black vitrolite, which is also used on the deep soffits, although this has been replaced in some places. Roof is pitched, carried on simple curved steel arches with replaced glazing, now mostly obscured by a dropped ceiling.
MARKET ROW occupies an infill site between the buildings on Electric Avenue to the north, Atlantic Road to the east, Coldharbour Lane to the south and Electric Lane to the west. There are three entrances and the arcades form a broad T-plan. The east and west entrances were originally similar, of two storeys and three bays with a shop to either side of the entrance, with a Diocletian window and oculus above, with small semi-circular windows to either side. The glazing has been in-filled and the shop fronts replaced to the east; the west entrance has been heavily altered. Photographs indicate that the parapets have been raised. The south entrance is rendered, again of two storeys and three bays; the parapet may have been altered. Here, the neo-classical idiom of the other two entrances is not repeated (this may be due to alterations); there is horizontal glazing to the upper floor in the moderne style but the glazing looks replaced. The curved glazed canopies and ceramic roundels to each entrance date from the 1996 refurbishment.
The interior is of more architectural interest than the exterior. Here, the shops line both sides of the T-shaped shopping avenues and are of two-storeys-plus-attics divided by a concrete pilaster frame. Some of the ground floor shops are enclosed with shop fronts, others open fronted with roller blinds, and there are offices on the upper floor Some shop fronts retain original elements but they are generally much altered. The avenues benefit from natural light cast through the glazed and exposed roof structure. The pitched glazed roofs are carried on reinforced concrete open-arched trusses with roundels aligned on each shopping bay.
GRANVILLE ARCADE (now called BRIXTON VILLAGE) occupies a trapezoidal plot between Coldharbour Lane to the south, the railway viaducts to the north and west, and the 1904 steam laundry to the east. The twin main entrances to the south form an integral part of a four-story block of flats with ground-floor shops, known as Granville House. This is faced in brown brick and render, of seven bays, with modern fluted detailing to the narrow central bay. The ground-floor shop fronts have been replaced. The entrances have large, flat, slightly stepped arches, with full-height shallow canted bay windows above. From the entrances runs a pair of long arcades (First and Second Avenues) which diverge to fit the site, joined laterally by four more arcades of increasing lengths (Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Avenues) creating a ladder-like plan. There is a western entrance under the viaduct in Atlantic Road but this has no architectural treatment, and a further one to the north with a simple square arch. Originally the entrance was a wide arch with 'Granville Arcade' in blocky lettering, but this was reconfigured and the modern lettering of 'Brixton Village' was applied.
The interior has shops on the ground floor, some enclosed with shop fronts, others open fronted with roller blinds. The upper floor contains office. Some shop fronts retain original elements but are generally much altered. The arcades have pitched glazed roofs carried on curved steel trusses.
HISTORY The cluster of covered markets in Brixton were begun in the early C20 when market traders were relocated from Brixton Road. The first built was the Reliance Arcade, built in 1925-6 on the site of a large C19 house occupying a long plot of land (bizarrely, the shell of the house was retained and straddles the centre of the arcade). The choice of an Egyptian frontage was an early one in the fashion for this style that emerged following the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922 and the Paris Exhibition of 1925. Market Row was built c1928 to the design of RS Andrews and J Peascod. The third market, Granville Arcade, was built in 1935-8 to the east of the site to the design of Alfred and Vincent Burr and is named after the builder/developer, P Granville Grossman. The markets were refurbished in 1996, involving alterations to some of the façades.
The post-war history of the markets is particularly relevant to the listing. Brixton is widely recognised as the pre-eminent district of Afro-Caribbean settlement and culture in both the capital and the country. This identity emerged quickly from the 1950s when immigrants from the West Indies, in particular Jamaica, settled in this South London suburb, largely due to cheap housing in this once salubrious, but increasingly down-at-heel and Blitz-damaged, neighbourhood. With hundreds, then thousands, of newly-arrived immigrants lodging in boarding houses, the new community settled with a considerable presence in the area.
The Oxford Companion to Black British History, which includes the district of Brixton with its own entry, comments that "Brixton Market, with its jumble of stalls selling plantains, Jamaican patties, yams, green bananas, and an array of Caribbean foodstuffs, rapidly became an important focal point for the new arrivals, many of whom made their homes in the adjacent environs of Atlantic Road, Electric Avenue, Coldharbour Lane, and Railton Road. By the late 1960s much of this area had become one of the largest and most important sites of Caribbean settlement in the United Kingdom, and word of Brixton's reputation as 'the spiritual home of Caribbeans in Britain' spread 'back home', encouraging new generations of Caribbean settlers." As the focal point of this community, the most visible manifestation of the important cultural foodstuffs of the new settlers, the market has an important cultural role. Furthermore, that there was confidence and critical mass enough to display it openly, in what was not always a welcoming and gentle home population, gives the presence of the market added meaning.
A white stall-holder in the mid-1950s commented that it was the pioneering market holders, mostly grocers and butchers in and around Brixton Market, that began to cater for the West Indian residents, and that their arrival was 'a shot in the arm for local trade'. As white custom decreased, those who began to sell rice, dried cod fish, dried pork and ackee, spices, beans, tinned yams and coconut butter, and more exotic fruits and vegetables like mangoes, pineapple and avocados, prospered. The markets were increasingly frequented by black customers and residents in the late 1950s and 1960s. In 1956 when the wife of Jamaica's Chief Minister, Mrs. Edna Marleng wanted, on her visit, to meet as many Jamaican migrants as possible, she asked to go to Brixton Market on a Saturday morning and 'ended up shaking hands with fifty West Indians who recognised me. I was surprised to see them buying sweet potatoes and tinned ackee...it was like a little bit of home'. By the late 1950s, Brixton Market was the commercial and cultural heart of a new and growing community in England.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION The three market buildings, Reliance Arcade of 1925, Market Row of 1928, and Granville Arcade (now Brixton Village) of 1935-8 are listed for the following principal reasons: * Architectural design: while essentially modest inter-war structures there is interest in the early use of the Egyptian style in the façade of buff faience with polychrome detailing at Reliance Arcade; * Interiors: Reliance Arcade retains black vitrolite in the tiny shops' frontages; the open glazed and concrete truss roof structure of Market Row and the open glazed and curved steel truss roof structure of Granville Arcade (Brixton Village) impressively lights the shopping avenues inside, the plan of which are of particular interest at Granville; * Historic interest: the well-known Brixton Market complex formed the commercial and social heart of the extensive Afro-Caribbean community that settled in Brixton after WWII. The successful adoption of the markets is the clearest architectural manifestation of the major wave of immigration that had such an important impact on the cultural and social landscape of post-war Britain, and is thus a site with considerable historical resonance.
SOURCES Sheila Patterson, Dark Strangers (1965) Alan Piper, A History of Brixton (1996) Mike and Trevor Phillips, Windrush: The Inevitable Rise of Multi-racial Britain (1998) David Dabydeen, John Gilmore and Cecily Jones, Eds. Oxford Companion to Black British History (2007) British Pathe short film set in Granville Arcade, 1960s.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
End of official listing