Loughborough Junction’s West End
Loughborough Junction takes its name from the railway junction that appeared in the 1860s – but was the site of a road junction for some time before that. Coldharbour Lane is a long-standing thoroughfare between Brixton and Camberwell – and the point where it meets what we now call Loughborough Road is clearly visible on a map of 1746. This junction today is more of a crossroads, with Hinton Road continuing the line of Loughborough Road southwards. Hinton Road only really developed as an urban street after the arrival of the railways, but represents the bottom end of an older route up to the top of Herne Hill, which at some point became known as “Poplar Walk”. Today, this route can still be traced by following the alleyway and street that continue to bear that name. More about Poplar walk can be found on this page.
The significance of this road junction might be an argument for calling it the true “centre” of Loughborough Junction – but there is some logic in thinking of it, and the immediately surrounding streets, as Loughborough Junction’s “West End”. Approaching from the west, from the Brixton direction, the railway bridge near the end of Shakespeare road might be seen as the point where Coldharbour Lane enters Loughborough Junction proper. And although it might not be so obvious now, for some time the streets just here formed a hub of relatively prestigious shopping parades.
The south side of Coldharbour Lane, between Hinton Road and Shakespeare Road, was the only part of the immediate area that was built up prior to the railways’ arrival – hosting a small cluster of buildings, and as a result, some of Loughborough Junction’s oldest buildings can be found here. It is also the site of the “Green Man” – well known as a pub until its closure in 2003 – and an institution that has existed under that name since before 1800. There is more detail on its history in the text further down this page.
The character of this junction would have changed very rapidly in the years between 1862 and 1865, with 3 railway viaducts appearing in rapid succession. In particular, the high-level east-west viaduct and its associated bridges would have transformed somewhere essentially rural in character into a landscape of a dramatically different nature.
Click on the 3d images below to enlarge them. Click the left and right arrows to see changes through time, or to see different parts of the model highlighted.
The Green Man Tea Gardens (and Public House)
The “Green Man” has long been a landmark on the corner of Hinton Road and Coldharbour Lane. It was an active pub until its closure in 2003 and today the building houses the “Green Man Skills Zone” – a careers guidance centre.
It would appear that something called the Green Man has existed in this location since before 1800. It is marked on maps from the early 1800s.
In the early 19th century, “Tea Gardens” existed at various locations on London’s fringes, and offered somewhere green and pleasant to escape the dirt and noise of the city. They typically offered landscaped strolling paths, arbours and water features alongside food and drink, something a little similar to a country pub and a variation on the “pleasure gardens” also popular at the time – a well known, relatively local example being those at Vauxhall. Some more about the history and culture of Tea Gardens can be read here.
I have not been able to find any images of the building or its associated gardens prior to its rebuilding in the 1880s – but some idea of the gardens’ layout is shown on an early 1870s OS map, and it’s on this that I’ve based the reconstruction seen in the model images.
In the 1880s, whatever building had been there previously was replaced with a Late Victorian style pub – the building that still exists (in modified form) today. At this point the gardens disappeared, as a terrace of shops and houses was built on the land they occupied. This terrace also exists today, forming the west side of Hinton Road. By this point, it’s perhaps questionable whether the tea gardens had been able offer anything like a country atmosphere as they were hemmed in by buildings and the tall railway viaduct.
The Green Man pub is also discussed on this urban75 page.
Like the Green Man, the Warrior did not survive as a pub beyond the early 2000s. It was the “Junction” nightclub in its latter years and now houses a Tesco supermarket.
There was no building on this site until after the railways arrived, and Loughborough Junction began to urbanise. It appears to have been built in the late 1860s – making the building older than the current “Green Man” one, even though it was a younger institution.
There is some discussion of The Warrior in this Brixton Buzz article.
“Bridge House” – 237 Coldharbour Lane
Between the Green Man and the railway bridge a little further west along Coldharbour Lane there is a short, irregular terrace. Unlike most of the other, rather grander terraces along Coldharbour Lane, this one is built around a small cluster of buildings that existed prior to the railways. One of these – number 237 – has the title “Bridge House” at the top of its facade. Although it’s not obvious from the street, this facade is built out from an older building behind it – an older building that appears to have started life as an independent house set back from the road. A building appears in this location on the 1840s “Tithe Map”, along with some other, detached dwellings further to the west. Those other houses were demolished to make way for the railway viaduct but it seems that what grew into “Bridge House” was spared.
Looking at the 3d model should help to explain how this cluster of buildings developed. In 1862, no. 237 is still set back from the road although it has become semi-attached to a terrace of small buildings which have appeared since the 1840s. By around 1872, its front garden has been filled in with extensions to form the street frontage that is now labelled “Bridge House”. Looking carefully from the street today (as well as aerial views) remnants of the original detached building can still be seen.
Signposts, lamps, public toilets and a fire ladder
The stretch of Coldharbour Lane running between Loughborough Road and Shakespeare Rd seems to have been relatively well photographed in the early 1900s. This suggests that it was considered as something of a ‘town centre’ in itself and a location with some prestige. Visible in many of these photographs are a few prominent pieces of street furniture.
In photos between the 1880s and the 1940s a tall signpost stands in front of the Green Man pub and bears its name. It is located right on the line of the kerb, where the pavement meets the street. Until sometime around 1905, a water trough for horses to drink from is next to it. I’ve found no evidence of whether or not this sign existed before the 1880s (when the Green Man was rebuilt) but it seems likely that some kind of sign might have stood at this junction for some time – perhaps for as long as a century.
Some time in the late 1890s, the end of Loughborough Road – where it passes under the railway bridge and meets Coldharbour Lane – was separated into two carriageways with a kind of central reservation. On this central reservation, and under the bridge, some public toilets were provided. They are only just visible in some early photos, and are labelled “urinals” on a 1916 OS map and “lavatories” on a 1950s version. They seem to have disappeared by the mid 1960s, possibly replaced with the building at the edge of Wyck Gardens now known as the “Platform Cafe”. This building housed public toilets until 2007.
Note that in the photo below, a tall wheeled ladder is visible. This is almost certainly an “escape ladder” provided by the Fire Brigade. These were stationed at various points around London and could be wheeled rapidly to a fire, to rescue anyone trapped in the upper levels of a building. They were in addition to any pump apparatus that would be used to actually fight the fire. The building just behind the ladder might have housed a watch point for the fire brigade, as well as public toilets. This kind of ladder was used until the 1980s, although they would no longer have been stationed on the street by that time. An interesting history of these ladders, written by a former firefighter, can be found here.
A little further towards Coldharbour Lane, still on this central reservation, a substantial lamp post carrying 4 lanterns as well as place-name directions seems to have existed from around 1900 until after WW2.
Belinda Road was laid out around the same time the “Warrior” pub appeared – in the late 1860s or early 1870s. It runs into the narrow triangle between the railway viaducts and when first built, had densely terraced houses along both sides. The backs of these terraces – especially along the northern side of the street – were only a few metres from the railway viaduct which must have made them quite dark (and noisy) houses to live in. These terraces were demolished in the 1960s or 70s and today the area is given over to industrial uses.