Archive Brixton scenes from Reggae Britannia

Archive Brixton as seen in Reggae Britannia

Still available on BBC’s iPlayer (if you’re quick enough) is Reggae Britannia, an excellent documentary charting the impact of reggae on Britain’s music scene, featuring interviews with greats like Big Youth, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Jerry Dammers, Dennis Bovell, Janet Kay, Aswad and Steel Pulse.

Naturally, Brixton features prominently in the story, and I managed to bag a few screengrabs from the programme which included some local street footage from the late 1970s/early 1980s.

In the photo above, you can see Brixton Road looking south. The top of Lambeth Town Hall can be seen to the right above the railway bridge, while the long-since vanished footbridge is in the middle distance.

Coldharbour Lane

Archive Brixton as seen in Reggae Britannia

Looking east along Coldharbour Lane from close to the junction with Brixton Road.

In the distance  can be seen scaffolding around the top of the then-unfinished Barrier Block (Southwyck House), while the entrance to Woolworths is on the left.

The Brixton Woolworths was one of the company’s larger UK stores, with other entrances on both Brixton Road and Electric Lane.

By the 1990s the store had reduced considerably in size, before finally closing for good in early 2009.

Atlantic Road/Electric Avenue

Archive Brixton as seen in Reggae Britannia

A rather murky night scene looking up Atlantic Road towards Coldharbour Lane.

The lights above  the shops belong to Brixton railway station, while the six sided clock tower of the legendary Railway Hotel/Brady’s bar can be seen silhouetted against the night sky. The ornate railway bridge has since been rebuilt – here’s a better view of it with Michael Caine walking past in a scene from the seminal 60s movie, ‘Alfie.’.

Archive Brixton as seen in Reggae Britannia

A day time view of Atlantic Road,  looking towards the junction with towards Coldharbour Lane. There seems to have been a lot of shoe shops in Brixton in the 70s/80s!

Archive Brixton as seen in Reggae Britannia

Corner of Atlantic Road and Electric Avenue, with a tantalising glimpse of the street’s once famous cast iron canopies which ran the entire length of the street.

The corner shop nearest the camera – advertising ‘overcoats from £3’ – now serves as a fruit and veg store, with the building above being in a very poor state.

Archive Brixton as seen in Reggae Britannia

Another view of Electric Avenue. You can see that the canopies on the right hand side of the road have already been demolished, and the shops look in a bit of a state

Sadly, all of the canopies have now been removed, although if you look hard enough, you can still see bits of the original cast iron supports above the shops.

Barrier Block

Archive Brixton as seen in Reggae Britannia

Two more views of the Barrier Block, with Somerleyton Road to the right. The phone boxes and letter box are still there.

Archive Brixton as seen in Reggae Britannia

Granville Arcade

Archive Brixton as seen in Reggae Britannia

Opening time for Granville Arcade (now Brixton Village). Note the ‘Record Shack’ sign to the left.

Archive Brixton as seen in Reggae Britannia

A final photo taken from the excellent Babylon film of 1980 showing a scene inside the arcade.

Discuss the Reggae Britannia series here

4 Comments on “Archive Brixton scenes from Reggae Britannia”

  1. MUZIK KINDA SWEET BY POGUS CAESAR 1st – 30th October 2011

    The British Music Experience at O2 presented by the Co-operative, in association with OOM Gallery will be showcasing an exclusive exhibition of 38 rare photographs celebrating legendary black musicians working in the UK.

    Using a simple camera photographer Pogus Caesar followed the musicians and singers around the famous venues producing a collection that celebrates a style of black music that brings together the UK, the US and the Caribbean.

    From Stevie Wonder in 1989, Grace Jones in 2009 and Big Youth in 2011, this unique exhibition documents how black music, in its Reggae, Soul, Jazz and R&B tributaries of sound, has changed and renewed itself over the decades.

    Journeying from Jimmy Cliff to Jay-Z via Mica Paris and Mary Wilson of The Supremes to David Bowie’s bass player Gail Ann Dorsey, these images conjure up an alphabet of the music of the Black Atlantic.
    The photographs selected from OOM Gallery Archive are also as much about the clubs and venues, as it is about the singers, producers and musicians. The Wailers at The Tower Ballroom, Sly Dunbar at The Hummingbird Club, Courtney Pine at Ronnie Scott’s, Cameo at the Odeon Cinema, Ben E. King at the Hippodrome and Soul II Soul’s Jazzie B at BBC Pebble Mill, many venues now lost to regeneration or renewal, and only recalled through memory and imagery.

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