Lost streets of Brixton: Geneva Road, SW9

Geneva Road off Coldharbour Lane, Brixton

Now lost beneath the Moorlands Estate development of the 1970s, Geneva Road once ran south from Coldharbour Lane, and consisted of an unbroken terrace of solid three-storey Victorian buildings with basements.

The former junction with Coldharbour Lane is now buried under Southwyck House (aka the Barrier Block), and while no trace of the original road remains, the name lives on in the nearby Geneva Drive.

Geneva Road off Coldharbour Lane, Brixton

Built around the 1870s, Geneva Road fell into a slow decline after the war, and by the fifties were housing a large West Indian community.

A contemporary report from March 1955 observed life in the area:

About 3,000 West Indians are living in the Borough of Lambeth, in South London. Most have taken homes in Brixton, packing themselves into Geneva Road and Somerleyton Road, where the houses are large and high and dowdy.

To judge from the number of windows which at night are lit up, with the shadow of a dressing-table mirror thrown onto faded, pinned curtains, a lot of the houses have been divided into flats and bed-sitting rooms. ‘For Sale–8 Lots Without Reserve’ reads a notice outside one dusty looking residence. Is this, one wonders, the work of some rogue landlord

On a wall in one these roads someone has whitewashed the slogan ‘Keep Brixton White’ The whitewash has been partly covered by brown paint and the weather has taken off some of the remainder.

But the cool, menacing words are still just discernible and it is faintly sickening to read them in the lamplight. Yet from the evidence of a number of visits to Brixton, one would say that on the whole the Jamaicans are quite unobjectionable; as sober and as responsible in their behaviour and as modest in their bearing as anyone could wish.

Lost streets of Brixton: Geneva Road, SW9

Here’s an 1870 Ordnance Survey map of the area, showing large parts of Brixton still undeveloped.

Read more about Geneva Road and see more photos and maps here.

145 Comments on “Lost streets of Brixton: Geneva Road, SW9”

          1. Gosh…. It’s so interesting isn’t it. Do you remember buying Jublees at the little shop?

            I think my Mum signed the last 8 years on a 1000 year lease or something like that. It was for almost nothing. We were 4 Irish families living from Basement to top. We had to have a compulsary bath put in one of the bedrooms! We also had to have fire doors installed. That would have been 1964. I was born there and left for the great metropolis of Slough in Buckinghamshire when I was 7. Effra Junior School but sadly I have little or no memories of that. Does anyone on here remember being at that school from 1964 to 66?

          2. Hi peter, just to make sure of things, did gillian have a really long platt and did she go to effra school? If so, I remember her.

          3. Hi Christine, yes she had plaits and we both went to Effra back in the day.
            I also went to Sussex Road School before being transferred to Effra.
            She now lives in Wallington and I’m near Brockham in Surrey.

        1. Hi shiela yes I recall that house even number I was 81 so it was opposite down a bit towards coldhaurbour lane she was called the cat lady had 30/40 strays and she lived in that big house alone she died in the fire some of the niehbors tried to rescue her but sadly she died of smoke it was so sad I use to sell fire wood to all in Geneva rd who many had coal fires and she was a customer of mine as was many great days great rd and great folk so sad it has been pulled down take care amon Kelly

  1. hi boot & patsy & Jackie about my brother tommy he passed away aged 58 4 years ago his wife said that he was allways talking about his mate booty & and some guy named eddy sears ??

    1. This site goes someway to ease the sadness of there being nothing left but memories.
      Im enjoying reading other peoples comments a out their experiences of geneva road.

  2. A park wouldn’t look so nice to the hundreds of long term residents who would have to be evicted and moist likely rehoused miles away from their community (if they get rehoused at all).

  3. The long term residents of Geneva road , as it was , did not want to be evicted. And the street and beautiful houses looked so much better than the tower block it was replaced with.

  4. Amon I am so sorry to hear about your brother passing at a young age, Boot will be pleased to know he was not forgotten but sad that Tommy has passed, Eddie was the son of the removal people Charlie and Dolly, they were mentioned in earlier posts, hope your well, lovely to hear from you.xx

  5. I agree with the park replacing the barrier block, it’s an eyesore, such a shame to lose all those great homes that was once Geneva rd, I was born and brought up there as was most of my family.

  6. patsy thank you for your kind words re eddie yes I remember now Charlie & dolly I remember that on weekends they would leave the back of the lorry open and all the kids would play inside great days great history its sad that children today are shoved into boxes to live

  7. I saw plans for the homes to be built on the somerleyton road it looks very nice low rise with lots of space and greenery have the planners seen sense I think it would only be fair that the tenants of the barrier block be given first choice of the homes if they want to move there

  8. re the somerleyton site prodject none of the properties should be sold all the flats & houses must be let to tenants at fair rents the council must get this one right for the folk of Brixton no matter what the cost good luck to all who are fighting this cause

  9. hi amon I remember most of the names mentioned here I lived at no 8 sussex grove with my mum and
    dad mary and jim Anderson and brothers jimmy alan and terry really interesting reading this
    regards cliff anderson

    1. Hello I know this is a long shot, but I have just come across an old post card in my mums things, and it is from Jimmy Anderson, to his grandmother in Yorkshire, Mrs J hardy. I looked for the street on internet, and saw this comment of yours. This was my great grandmother. The address on the postcard was 22Langton Road, Brixton, London SW9. Can you throw any light on this, I look forward to hearing from you. my email is hartleyjn@aol.com thank you in anticipation.

  10. hi cliff I do recall your family the houses were smaller than ours but still had large basements like ours do you remember a lad called alex he was slightly tanned we was good mates his parents were very strict he lived about 4/5 houses from you do you remember the bomb site at the end of Geneva terrace and the bomb sites in Loughborough park great scrummping pears the size of footballs and apples etc great days

  11. Hi my husband Reg O’Flaherty lived at 66 Geneva Road most of his early life when we married we lived there from 1963 -till they pulled it down then moved to the other side of the road for 3years Pat And Mark Horsley Pat formerly Lacey lived in the basement flat of 66 when we were there Pat had a baby Jackie and I also had a baby girl Suzanne and still very close to Jackie, sadly Patsy died 6 years ago. Recognise lots of other names on here Sears booty Waglands.

  12. hi niolette its great to hear from a former resident of the great late Geneva rd you have told me something I never knew that one side of Geneva was pulled down the the other side was not demolished till 3 years later of course Lambeth council will hide under there desks because they know what they did to our homes was almost criminal but sadly I am unable to recall your family you say you remember the waglands what a lovely family we lived opposite them

  13. hi all folk of the great late Geneva rd I thought you might like to hear this storey this morning I was watching homes under the hammer and a house came up that was only 5 mins walk from Geneva rd 2 bed no front garden no basement new owner refurbished it sold for 1.2 million what would our old houses fetch today if the idiots who ordered there destruction

  14. hi just read in the south London press about electric avenue about one million pounds to be spent bringing it back to its glory days the buildings are truly the best of its time and must be saved unlike the fate of Geneva /somerleyton /sussex rd well done Lambeth council

  15. HI all I am still looking for folk that lived in the late Geneva road to hear there stories I recently heard that a lot of folk moved up to tulse hill a big estate of council flats I emailed Lambeth council but all they would tell me was that 52 families were resettled there into cramped flats far from there beloved Brixton market and pubs etc if any one has any info please let this site know TA

      1. Sheila carroll, I remember your sister betty. She used to come out to play with all the kids in the street, I was the youngest of three sisters. Karen,kaye and christine lewis… no. 38 geneva road. Great place a d great memories.

  16. HI all did any one see BACK IN TIME for Brixton bbc 2 I was lucky enough to tape it and saw the late great Geneva rd ill boarded up and Geneva terrace bulldozed I real y had tears in my eyes to see this road in its last dying days I cant believe Lambeth council do not regret what they did so bloody sad

  17. High Guys. Just reading all your comments brought back mems. I was born in Geneva road 1952 and lived there till we were moved up to brixton hill. Knew the Waglands . Billy was in the gang where we played on the bomb site up by th coldharbour lane. Went to school at sussex road then effra parade. Nice to see some of us are still around. LOL Bob Williams No. 50 Geneva road

    1. Hi Bob. We must have been neighbours! We lived at number 48 between 1962-1967, but can’t seem to remember you, sorry….unless you moved out before then?
      We too used to play in that bomb site…remember the train carriage there? We used to climb on the roof and jump onto an old mattress salvaged from the dump! No health and safety then!
      Regardless, Geneva Road was a teriffic place to grow up in as a kid…great memories

      1. Hi Andy I was born in August 59 and lived in Geneva Road for 6 years. No 62!
        We were the Carrolls (Irish) My sister was Betty and I’m Sheila.

        1. Hi Sheilla, did you have jamaicans living at 46, cos we used to play subbuteo in there most days.LOL Great days in geneva road. Do you remember Richard Stewart Opposite you?. They were an irish family. Richard and I was great friends.

    1. Hi amon, I was born in dulwich hospital in 1956, I spent the first 12 years in geneva road.we started out living at no.45 geneva road then moved over the road to no. 38. My grand parents lived upstairs at no.38, and my family lived downstairs of no. 38. We were the lewis family, kare , kaye and christine lewis. 1967 we had an addition to our family, namely, another girl called catherine. We moved away in 1968, and moved to basildon essex. Was totally heart broken to leave the place I loved. I still love brixton and always will.

  18. Hi Andy, lived at no. 50 from 1952 1967. Cant remember you but think the railway carriage was in moorland road. Bomb site in geneva road was called wallas. Round the corner from Robinsons the fruit and veg shop. All gang members (lol) were richard andrew billy franky and of course me. We had great fun playing on bomb sites. No electronic games in them days. Nice to to hear from you though.

    1. Hi Robert, my name is frank stuart brother of Richard jimmy and Joan I remember you and some of the others you mentioned I do remember the train carriages

      1. Hi Franky nice to hear from you, yes i remember you to. Hows Rich and Franky. Missed the good times in geneva road, shame that everybody got split up. Hope alls well with you and family.

          1. I,m really sorry to hear that as we were great friends. Last time I saw Richard was in the Crown and Sceptre on Brixton Hill. But hope all your family are well.

  19. HI bob yes the fruit & veg is where you say in fact my sister and her children lived above that shop I remember the out side loo bloody freezing in winter do you remember the bomb site at the top of Geneva terrace cut through to sussex rd to that creepy old shop on the corner a old lady use to own it would you prefer to go back to Geneva rd to live or move into a flat on the barrier block if given the chance amon

  20. Hi amon, yes remember the bombsite at geneva terrace bur cant remember the shop. I remember Reeds the sweet shop next to the Angel pub. Id rather have stayed in Geneva road were all my friends lived. But times change, sometimes not for the better. We ended up at Brixton Hill opposite the Telegraph.

  21. HI Robert yes I remember reeds but there use to be a shop opposite then corner of sussex rd if those houses were still standing I think they would be fetching about £1,5 million today a flat on the barrier block about £ 100.000 that’s if you could find a mug to buy it great days growing up in the late great Geneva rd

  22. HI Robert looking at all the replies it seems that a lot of folk from Geneva road all got dumped at Brixton hill I recall a large council estate on water lane I had a friend who lived there long before Geneva was destroyed by john major and he said there was noise above below and on his left and on his right no escape from it then the druggies moved in well that’s progress for you do you miss your garden and space in the late great Geneva road

  23. I lived at no 77 from 1953 to 1960. I can’t remember the fire but I can remember playing Mr Crocodile in the street with the other children. I too went to Sussex Road School and Effra. Went back to Brixton last year for a reminiscence but couldn’t find Effra School. Nice to see some houses in roads towards Brockwell Park still in tact. The market still as vibrant as ever.
    I remember buying broken biscuits from the local shop and the rag and bone man.

  24. My grandparents lived in 57 geneva rd with my father and uncle in 1954 to the early 60s and wonder if anyone knew them Nelson Mccarthy and eunice Mccarthy who my father was lyndon and uncle kelvin

  25. Been reading all the comments and remember lots of the names mentioned. Had a great childhood in geneva road. When did the last people move out, and where did they go I wonder. When was our street demolished? From christine lewis…..no.38.

  26. Hi , I was friends with a greek cypriot family and turkish cypriot family. We left geneva road ij 1968.
    Would be really good to find these families again. They lived nos, 42 and 44 and we lived no. 38. Be
    Lovely to know how they all are.

  27. I would lov e to know what happened to a friend of ours from 75 geneva road, her name was jean faragher, she had a brother dougie and her mum was doreen. Does anyone know where they went?

    1. Hi Christine. I lived at no 77 Geneva Road from 1953 to 1960. Sadly I can’t say I remember Jean Faragher but I’m sure my mum and dad would have known them. They have both passed away now. I loved Brixton and can only remember happy childhood days. I went back a couple of years ago. Even though our house wasn’t there Brixton still had a great vibe, especially the library.

      1. Hi Christine I lived at No.50 I knew the Faragahs weel. Dougy was my best mate, we we,re both to have joined the army together but bottled out. Not sure what happend after that. That was when we were all moved out as they were going to demolish Geneva road.

        1. Hi robert, what year did you leave geneva road? Do you know if sussex road was demolished first, as lots of people on here went to sussex road school first, then transfered to effra school. I was born in 1956 and only went to effra school. The ground floor was the infants and upstairs was the juniors. The head mistress of the infants was miss rosa lampard. The head of the juniors was mr.nicholson.

          1. Hi Christine, I left Geneva road in 1968 but my Dad stayed for about six months. Then was found a flat opposite the telegraph at brixton hill. Not sure which was knocked down first. But i allso was at Sussex school then went to effra parade.And after that went to William Penn North Dulwich. We were the kids allways playing football or cricket in the street and allways getting in to trouble. LOL. Great memories.

  28. Apart from the names already mentioned on here, I can remember the following;

    Johnny Vasey
    Nipsie Vasey
    Vic Pasby
    Robert Butcher
    Steven Bradshaw
    John Kelly
    Charlie Sears
    Terry Wagland
    Alex Haridimou (Geneva Terrace)
    Leroy Harris (Geneva Terrace)
    Mr Bright
    Christine Bellman

  29. Hi, I’ve just stumbled across this site whilst researching my family history…. I don’t suppose anyone remembers (or can tell me about) the Coppock family who lived at no. 51 Geneva Road in 1939 & possibly before/ after? Any memories about Edward Charles, Kate Sarah, Winifred or Richard would be very gratefully received! From the 1939 census it looks like they lived there with a married couple…the Cuney’s?

  30. Lived at No 33 from 1944 until 62 then moved up to Brixton hill flats , mum was Lydia Dallison Dad was Ted he worked for the Prudential My name is Pat i had a sister Pauline and Brother Raymond remember Bootsie , snooky and Nipsy all playing on the bomb site at bottom of the road near Coldharbour lane.

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