Lambeth Walk has a long history; once a rural place with three windmills known as Three Coney Walk (coney being an old name for rabbit), later famed for the song from the hit musical ‘Me And My Girl’. Actor Lupino Lane, who appeared in the stage and film versions, once attempted to come and perform on the road but the event attracted such huge crowds it was thought to be dangerous for him to set foot on Lambeth Walk. He is remembered locally through Lupino Court, on the street. Lollard Street nearby is the location of one of Britain’s first ‘junk’ adventure playgrounds, established in 1955 on one of London’s many bomb-sites, and is still popular today. The Blitz took its toll on Lambeth as can be seen from the bomb map created by the ARPs. Local people suspected that German bombers mistook the dome of the Imperial War Museum (formerly Bethlem Hospital) for St. Pauls. Later, a V2 rocket destroyed Lambeth Baths on the corner of Kennington Road and Lambeth Road where Lambeth Towers now stands. Kennington Road is also the location of the often-overlooked space plaques, attached to the trees on the west side, which commemorate the astronauts who took part in the Apollo missions.
The Victorian era brought major changes, not least physically, to Vauxhall. A new viaduct connected the London and South West Railway to its new terminus in Waterloo and saw the creation of the Necropolis Railway connecting to the cemetery in Woking. The City and South London Railway, the first electric underground line, arrived in 1890, running from near Bank to Stockwell. Kennington is now the only surviving original station. Vauxhall was badly affected by the cholera outbreak in 1848 and the Doulton Works, which dominated the skyline during the nineteenth and early 20th century, provided pipes for the new sewers being put in place along the Embankment by Joseph Bazalgette to improve London’s sanitation. Poverty and poor education were commonplace in Lambeth during the 19th century. A local vinegar manufacturer, Henry Beaufoy, set up a ‘ragged school’ in what now is the Beaconsfield Gallery in Newport Street. His son Mark, who inherited the vinegar business when he was ten, grew up to become the local MP, supporting an 8-hour working day and introducing it in his factory. Mark also set up the Beaufoy Institute, the foundation stone of which which was laid by his wife Mildred. In his younger days he was a keen footballer and played in the 1879 Cup Final at the Oval. In the centenary year of women first getting the vote, we found out about suffragist Muriel Matters, of Fentiman Road, who chained herself to a grille in the House of Commons and during efforts to remove her, became the first woman to speak in Parliament. She was also known for her use of a hot-air balloon from which she dropped leaflets across London.