Borough of Lambeth

outline map

The borough of Lambeth, lying south of the river Thames immediately opposite Westminster, seems to figure relatively little in London's history. The modern borough is based largely upon the ancient parish of Lambeth, though with the addition of Clapham and Streatham, formerly part of the Wandsworth metropolitan borough. There seems to have been little development until the eighteenth century except along the riverbank itself. One of Lambeth's few antiquities is Lambeth Palace, the official home of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It has stood on the same Thames-side plot since the 12th century, although much of the present building is a 19th-century refurbishment. Vauxhall, just upstream, was the site of a famous pleasure garden in the eighteenth century though now the borough can boast few green spaces and modern Vauxhall is largely an industrial area.

Almost all the rest of Lambeth is residential. Demographically, Lambeth exhibits the so-called "crap sandwich" pattern - prosperous areas at the northern and southern edges of the borough surround an area that is relatively poor. Brixton and Herne Hill have long been regarded as among London's most deprived areas though many people admire Brixton's multicultural vibrancy.

Lambeth's best feature, from the point of view of the tourist or visitor, is the South Bank; lying at the northern tip of the borough, the Thames-side arts complex dates from the aftermath of the second world war and is the highest concentration of cultural real estate in Britain. Within the complex are the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Purcell Room, the National Theatre, the National Film Theatre, the Hayward Gallery, the Museum of the Moving Image and the London Television Centre. Next to the South Bank sits County Hall, until recently the seat of London's administration but now sadly in private hands. Hanging over the riverside at the north end of the building is the London Eye (also known as the Millennium Wheel),  the world's largest Ferris wheel and currently London's newest tourist attraction. Not far from the South Bank is Waterloo Station, one of Britain's busiest railway stations and curently the terminus of the Eurostar services through the Channel Tunnel. Also nearby is the cylindrical glass structure that houses the IMAX cinema, housing one of Britain's largest screens.

Gallery Index

The London Eye
The South Bank

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This page last updated 18th April 2001