Died: January 10, 2016, Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States
Movies: Labyrinth, The Man Who Fell to Earth, The Prestige, more
Spouse: Iman (m. 1992–2016), Angie Bowie (m. 1970–1980)
Lived: 40 Stansfield Road, London
Studied: Ravens Wood School
English Heritage Blue Plaque: 14 Dover Mansions, Canterbury Crescent, Henry Havelock Ellis (1859–1939), “Pioneer in the scientific study of sex lived here"
Address: Brixton, London SW9 7QF, UK
Type: Historic Street (open to public)
Brixton is a district of London, located in the borough of Lambeth in south London. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London. The area remained undeveloped until the beginning of the XIX century, the main settlements being near Stockwell, Brixton Hill and Coldharbour Lane. The opening of Vauxhall Bridge in 1816 improved access to Central London and led to a process of suburban development. The largest single development, and one of the last in suburban character, was Angell Town, laid out in the 1850s on the east side of Brixton Road, and so named after a family that owned land in Lambeth from the late XVII century until well into the XX. One of a few surviving windmills in London, built in 1816, is just off Brixton Hill and surrounded by houses built during Brixton’s Victorian expansion. When the London sewerage system was constructed during the mid-XIX century, its designer Sir Joseph Bazalgette incorporated flows from the River Effra, which used to flow through Brixton, into his “high-level interceptor sewer,” also known as the Effra sewer. Brixton was transformed into a middle class suburb between the 1860s and 1890s. Railways linked Brixton with the centre of London when the Chatham Main Line was built through the area by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway in the 1860s. In 1880, Electric Avenue was so named after it became the first street in London to be lit by electricity. In this time, large expensive houses were constructed along the main roads in Brixton, which were converted into flats and boarding houses at the start of the XX century as the middle classes were replaced by an influx of the working classes. By 1925, Brixton attracted thousands of new people. It housed the largest shopping centre in South London at the time, as well as a thriving market, cinemas, pubs and a theatre. In the 1920s, Brixton was the shopping capital of South London with three large department stores and some of the earliest branches of what are now Britain’s major national retailers. Today, Brixton Road is the main shopping area, fusing into Brixton Market. A prominent building on Brixton High Street (at 472–488 Brixton Road) is Morleys, an independent department store established in the 1920s. On the western boundary of Brixton with Clapham stands the Sunlight Laundry, an Art Deco factory building. Designed by architect F.E. Simpkins and erected in 1937, this is one of the few art deco buildings that is still owned by the firm that commissioned it and is still used for its original purpose. The Brixton area was bombed during WWII, contributing to a severe housing crisis, which in turn led to urban decay. This was followed by slum clearances and the building of council housing. In the 1940s and 1950s, many immigrants, particularly from the West Indies, settled in Brixton. More recent immigrants include a large Portuguese community (Little Portugal) and other European citizens. Brixton also has an increasingly ageing population, which affects housing strategies in the area. The Brixton Gay Community of the 1970s formed around the UK’s first gay centre and a series of nearby squatted houses. Between 50 and 60 men lived in these squats for anything from a week to ten years. In oral testimonies many of them describe how their experience shaped their politics, their ideas about sexual identity and community, and their creative lives. The South London Gay Liberation Front, the journal Gay Left and the Brixton Faeries are each linked to the squatting community, which in the mid-1980s was absorbed into the Brixton Co-op. The houses – and the communal garden that connects them – are still reserved for gay and lesbian tenants: a tangible legacy of the earlier community.
Notable queer residents at Brixton:
• David Bowie (January 8, 1947 –January 10, 2016) was born at 40 Stansfield Road.
• Havelock Ellis (1859-1939), pioneer sexologist lived at 14 Dover Mansions, Canterbury Crescent.
Queer Places, Vol. 2 edited by Elisa Rolle
Release Date: July 24, 2016
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