Earlier this week some residents from Knight's Walk came along on a visit to the Minet Library to have a look at local photos and documents from the Lambeth Archives.
The photos, maps and documents we found at the Archive were of the local area around Knight’s Walk and gave an idea of how it has changed and developed over the years.
In particular we were interested in hearing what residents of Knight’s Walk thought about these photos and were amazed to hear some incredible stories, memories and historical facts about the area.
History and heritage are really important as part of the redevelopment of Knight’s Walk because, although parts of the area will be changing, we want to capture some of the incredible memories and stories about the local area so that we might find a way of integrating these into elements of the new design, in particular the outdoor spaces as we saw on our Study Trip.
We started off by looking at historical maps of the area. Going back as far as 1745, residents commented on how Lambeth was mostly fields and farms. Everyone noticed the change in the 1874 map where many more houses appeared and the housing density of Lambeth increased.
Maps from the 1950s showed the buildings in the area which were affected by the Second World War bombs. Residents shared surprisingly happy memories of playing around the bomb sites in their youth, preferring this to going to the local library. We also talked about how the history of the war and bombings runs quite deeply across generations of the families who were in London at the time.
Maps from the 1970s showed Knight's Walk on the map for the first time and residents pointed out many empty sites in the area where local housing developments were still not built.
Many residents were interested in photos and booklets about Lambeth Hospital, which dominated a large part of the neighbouring streets to Knight's Walk in a big L shape. The last parts of this hospital were turned into housing around the year 2000 when residents were already living at Knight’s Walk.
We saw a hand drawn floor plan of the Work House which was part of the hospital and is now used as the Cinema Museum behind Renfrew Road. Residents shared some interesting stories about Charlie Chaplin staying at this workhouse with his family and also mentioned that he often stayed nearby in what were called the ‘Rabbit hutches’.
An old photo of the Granada theatre brought memories back of the 1960s and 70s when some residents moved into the area and would go to this theatre to watch talent shows and performances regularly.
Through looking at the maps and the photos we found out that many residents have lived in Lambeth for years, not just on Knight's Walk, and many used to visit the same shops on the main high streets. Residents shared fond stories of a paper shop on the corner of Kennington Road and Black Prince Road and told us memories of the shops on Lambeth Walk for example the old toy shop where they bought presents for their children.
If you missed this Archive visit and would like to find out more about the things that we saw please get in touch at [email protected] or call 0800 072 0265