Local History

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    The neighbourhood has a rich and varied history much of which is available on line (see links on right). On this website we focus on three main aspects of local history.

Local Industry

     The neighbourhood still retains a significant amount of industry although there is little remaining of the traditional industries for which the area is most famous

    Ceramics-Delftware and Coade stone were produced in the area. Royal Doulton had a factory in Vauxhall Walk

    The origin of Vauxhall Motors, now owned by General Motors, are in the neighbourhood.  In 1857 Alexander Wilson set up Alex Wilson and Company, then Vauxhall Iron Works.  They built pumps, marine engines and, in 1903, their first car.  In 1905 they moved to Luton and from 1907 adopted the name Vauxhall Motors.

    Back in 1899, Sharwoods had a purpose built factory now known as  Offley Works  It can be argued that chutney was introduced to England from this site.  The site also hosted White Bros (Printers) who went on to become Christies International Media Division

    Businesses do come and go from the neighbourhood but perhaps its greatest strength has been to spawn businesses that went on to great things.

Local churches

     There are some eleven churches of the Christian tradition in and around the Oval neighbourhood.  The most famous perhaps is Saint Mark’s Church- a local Anglican church.  It dates from 1824 and is one of the four so called Waterloo churches.  The churchyard now hosts to the Oval Farmers Market every Saturday.

Kennington, Oval and Vauxhall History

Road network

    Main roads in the neighbourhood include; South Lambeth, Clapham, Kennington and Brixton roads.

Brixton Road is an old Roman road that leads to Brighton.  It was a major supply route that enabled produce to be brought into London from the South.  It was also a main smuggling route and the river Effra also followed this route for a way.

    The Clapham Road (formerly Stane [Stone] Street) led to Chichester.  This road also dates back to the first century and was primarily for military use.

Parks and green spaces

     In some ways, the stories of local parks and green spaces tell the story of the neighbourhood. For example, cricket reputedly became popular on Kennington Common (what remains is now Kennington Park) as a relief from the spectacle of public executions nearby.  The land for Vauxhall Park was bought from a property developer and saved for the community.  The history of Vauxhall/Spring Gardens dates back to the 16th Century and was once home to a major London attraction-Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The owners went bankrupt and  the site was sold for development but re-emerged from the ashes of World War II to become what we see today.

Local history on line

   (click on grid 055)


    Intersected by Roan roads, the neighbourhood lies between the old villages that existed at Kennington (formerly King's Town and CreninTune in the Domesday book)  and Stockwell.  Much of the housing dates to the Georgian/ early Victorian period when the urban sprawl began to merge traditional villages.  This is the area where South West and South East London meet  (See our article on local geography  for a discussion on post codes electoral wards and traditional boundaries of Kennington, Vauxhall and Stockwell).

      Much of the neighbourhood was once marshland.  The River Effra flowed from Brixton through the area passing by the Oval Crossing coming out near Vauxhall Bridge.

    St Marks Church marks the site of what was once the second largest place for executions in London-South London’s answer  to Tyburn in the North.


    Vauxhall overground station dates from 1848.  The underground station on the Victoria line dates from 1971.  The bus station is the 2nd busiest in London after Victoria.

The Oval tube station on the Northern line dates from 1890. The original line was the City and South London Railway (now Bank branch of the Northern line). It was rebuilt in the 1920s and refurbished to street level. In contrast, Kennington tube station, dating  from the same time retains its original street level structure.