The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Stockwell Bus Garage Photo © John East

Discover the mid-century modern architecture of Lambeth

C20 member Edmund Bird writes about researching his new book on the architecture of Lambeth 1945-65, described by Catherine Croft as “a fabulous project, documenting some of my favourite buildings—tempt yourself to venture south of the Thames and marvel and the ingenuity and diversity of the C20 architecture in this underrated London borough”:

“Having joined the C20 Society when in my teens in the mid 1980s, and then been Head of Conservation at Lambeth for many years, I was keen to write a series of books to celebrate the incredible twentieth century architectural heritage of this central London borough. I was commissioned by the Borough Archives, with their senior archivist Fiona Price as co-author. Cutting my teeth on my first book in 2010, Lambeth’s Edwardian Splendours, a second volume on the borough’s fine inter-war architectural legacy was published in 2012. Now we have launched volume 3 in the series which appraises the fascinating post-war period: Lambeth Architecture – A Brave New World 1945-65.

This was the most challenging book yet to research as the huge output of construction in this era, by both the London County Council and Lambeth, has been little charted to date. The South London Pevsner was largely compiled nearly 35 years ago and overlooks most of the buildings of this post-war period and very few buildings of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s are listed or in conservation areas, so with few published sources it was a case of hard slog in the dusty annals of the building records to piece together the story of the post-war reconstruction after the devastation of the Blitz and the V2. The changing architectural styles and designs of housing, public buildings, churches, schools, transport and commerce are studied together with public art and a final chapter charting the many losses of buildings of this era in recent years.The book is illustrated with over 400 photographs taken by C20 Society’s unofficial photographer John East or gleaned from the Lambeth and LCC archives.

Several well-known architects on the national stage designed housing schemes, churches and great London landmarks such as the Festival Hall, the Shell Centre and Waterloo Bridge, but it is buildings by lesser known designers that I’m fondest of such as the former Lambeth Baths, or Kennington Police Station (both mid-1950s). Another firm favourite is the soaring cathedral of the London bus, the outstanding Grade II* listed Stockwell Bus Garage. Volume 4 is now well underway taking the story forward through the Ted Hollamby years of the later 1960s and ’70s, and on to the close of the century.”

Edmund Bird

Lambeth architecture – A Brave New World 1945-65; Lambeth’s Edwardian Splendours and Lambeth architecture 1914-39 are available at the RIBA bookshop and at all Lambeth libraries and Lambeth Archives or by post from: Lambeth Archives, 52 Knatchbull Road, London, SE5 9QY at a cost of £9 plus £2 postage & packing. Enquiries by post, telephone (020 7926 6076) or to archives@lambeth.gov.uk.

Brixton Blog article about Lambeth architecture – A Brave New World 1945-65

Edmund Bird nominated Waterloo Bridge for 100 Buildings

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