What it's all about?
Set on a bend of the Thames, Vauxhall has long been a libertine corner of south-west London. For two centuries, Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens was a destination for Londoners to enjoy music, drink and amorous adventures. The area has witnessed almost continual change over the past few decades. The ‘Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea Opportunity Area’ is well underway along the riverfront, bringing bars, restaurants, shops and enhanced green spaces. The area is also known for its Portuguese community along the South Lambeth Road, as evidenced by cafés and tapas bars. Vauxhall is seen by some as the new Soho – or ‘Voho’ - thanks to Damien Hirst’s new Newport Street Gallery, followed by the influential Cabinet Gallery moving from Old Street to a new site in the Pleasure Gardens.
- The area’s name probably comes from Falkes de Breauté. He owned a large property here in the 13th century, known as ‘Falke’s Hall’. Diarist Samuel Pepys referred to it as ‘Fox Hall’ in 1665, and by the opening of the pleasure gardens it had morphed into ‘Vauxhall’.
- The MI6 headquarters on the river is believed to have a tunnel under the Thames to Whitehall.
- A rehearsal of Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks in 1749 at the old Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens attracted 12,000 people. It caused a three-hour traffic jam of carriages on London Bridge – the only crossing at that time.
Architecture and property
The largest housing type in the area is flats, both conversions and the purpose-built variety. This is partly because much of the workers’ housing was destroyed during the war, or was subsequently bulldozed as it was no longer fit for purpose. The riverside developments are generally at the upper end of the market, partly because of the river views, but also because of the exceptional transport links and proximity to Pimlico and Westminster. Some terraced cottages remain on quieter streets, such as Crimsworth, Goldboro’ and Thorparch Roads.
For house price information please visit our resource centre.
Eating: The crumbling 17th-century Brunswick House has been transformed into a seasonal British restaurant, headed by chef Jackson Boxer. Bonnington Café is a vegan and vegetarian institution set in community gardens. Casa Madeira is just one of the many Portuguese restaurants in the area, offering down-to-earth food, with seafood a speciality. Head down South Lambeth Road to ‘Little Portugal’ for more bars and late-night cafés, such as Estrella Bar and Portugal Restaurant.
Drinking: Housed in a roomy railway arch near the station, Mother Kelly’s is a bottle shop and taproom with nearly 30 beers to tipple your fancy. On the far side of the Pleasure Gardens is The Black Dog, a historic pub offering seasonal food and drink, with a handsome stained-glass bar. If you can find it through the construction work, get your sea legs under the table at the Battersea Barge and settle in for the night.
Nightlife: The area is known for its LGBT+-friendly bars and clubs. Eagle London is a late-night bar with lounge areas, pool tables, a garden and a host of shows and club nights. The Royal Vauxhall Tavern is an iconic and still fiercely independent London venue, famous for its cabaret acts and wild clientele.
Entertainment and culture: The Tea House Theatre is based in a Victorian pub. Alongside tea and cakes, it has a programme of plays, singalongs, poetry evenings and public debating nights. Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery presents work from his collection, along with exhibitions curated by the artist himself. Tate Britain, with its world-renowned permanent collection and blockbuster exhibitions, is just across the river.
Events: Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens hosts the St George’s Festival each April, with battling knights in armour, lots of mead and a dog show on the Sunday. Love Vauxhall organise events throughout the year, including Bearpit Karaoke in the Pleasure Gardens during the summer months.
- Vauxhall City Farm began life 35 years ago, when a group of architects squatting at St Oswald’s Place took over a small vacant plot. Now based in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and caring for more than 100 animals, it provides city kids with the chance to interact with country life.
- New Convent Garden Market is for wholesalers, but you can visit the Flower Market for £5. Best to get there between 10am and midday when it’s quieter.
- Go chuck an axe at Whistle Punks Axe Throwing in an arch under the train track. It’s popular with work parties and perhaps even bosses too.
- Vauxhall Climbing Centre is a colourful series of walls under the railway with options for all ages, right down to ‘Rock Tots’ classes for kids aged one to four years old.
Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens occupies part of the same site as its famous and much larger forerunner. A short walk to the south, Vauxhall Park is a green space with tennis courts, a baseball pitch, café and active community who help run events and maintenance weekends.
Vauxhall’s location by the Thames, on the route to London Bridge and Waterloo station, has brought centuries of change. Today is no different. The Nine Elms development along the river from Vauxhall to Chelsea Bridge will create 20,000 new homes, including the flagship Battersea Power Station development. It will be served by two new tube stations on the Northern line.
Rail: At peak times, Vauxhall rail station runs 17 services per hour to Waterloo (six minutes) as well as routes out to many of London’s suburbs.
Tube: As well as the Victoria line connection from Vauxhall to Victoria, Oxford Circus and on to St Pancras (12 Minutes), the Northern line extension will link stations at Battersea Power Station and Nine Elms, to the Charing Cross branch of the Northern line.
Bus: Vauxhall bus station handles 11 services, including 24-hour services in six different directions.
Road: Vauxhall, its bridge and the route to Elephant and Castle and out down the A2, lie just outside the Congestion Charge zone, with easy access to the A3, M3 and M4.
Cycle: Cycle Superhighway 5 runs through Vauxhall, with cycle lanes away from other traffic running over the river. Soho is 20 minutes ride away or 25 minutes for the City.
Getting away: St Pancras International is just 12 minutes away on the Victoria line, Heathrow around one hour by tube and Gatwick 40 minutes via Victoria station.
Education: There’s a good range of primary schools in the area. Henry Fawcett Primary School, Herbert Morrison Primary School, Archbishop Sumner Church of England Primary School and Vauxhall Primary School all tend to be well-liked. St Anne’s Catholic Primary School and St Mark’s Church of England Primary School are also good options. For secondary education, Lilian Baylis Technology School receives good reports.
Please see our education resource for more information on schools in this area.
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