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What do Vincent Van Gogh, Roger Moore, elephants and typefonts have in common? The answer is…Hackford Road – this street has a rich and varied history.
Hackford Road is mainly residential, it runs north to south and is crossed by Caldwell Street and Hillyard Street. Hackford Road stands where there was once open countryside and in historical documents is often referred to as part of Stockwell.
Above – Southern Lodge, 1849 a country retreat- in the mid 1800’s Hackford Road was still very rural and idyllic
Hackford Road was originally called St Ann’s Road, it is unclear exactly when the name was changed but from looking at maps it seems that it was in the 1860’s. The first appearance of residents was in the building of small houses and shops at the north end of the street in the 1820’s, none of these buildings remain but can be seen below.
Above – The north eastern side of Hackford road in 1909. These houses stood where Cleveland House and part of the Caldwell Gardens estate now stand.
The second wave of building was further south along the street when both sides were lined in the 1840’s with a variety of cottage and villa style housing each with their own quaint name such as Caroline Cottage’ and ‘St Ives Cottage’. These cottages would have stood on undeveloped open land between Brixton Road and Clapham Road for the first few years of their existence. By the 1880’s the cottage dwellings on the lower west side of the street and some on the east side were demolished and the familiar terraces that stand today were erected (see picture below)
From examining Kelly’s Street Directories spanning 1870 to 1910, electoral rolls and the 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901 Census I think that the terrace on the west side of Hackford Road (see photo above) was built in the 1870’s as houses, not as purpose built flats as with many streets in the area. The terrace first appears on records in the late 1870’s and retains mostly the same tenants and the same house numbers until the late 1890’s. There is a change at some point between 1898 and 1901 as by the Census of 1901 all tenants that had previously been living in the terrace were gone. The numbering of the terrace changes too, going from what had been 44, 46, 48 etc to 44a, 44b, 44c and so on, clearly indicating flats. I think that the terrace of houses was converted into flats, very unusual for the late Victorian period but possibly done as the owner of the street realised that there was more money to be made from flats.
From looking at census information the addition of the terraced flats brought a more mixed class of people to the area, the remaining cottages housed the more wealthy while the terraced houses generally were home to more working class and lower middle class people. Professions included music teacher, decorator, milk carrier and nurse. A proportion of these households still had servants however. Shops at the north end came and went as did a pub called The Star which stood until early 1900 before being swept away.
Reay Primary School was built in the early 1900’s and was originally a school for boys. The school was built on the site of shops to the north of the street and was once bordered by a block of stables belonging to the local rag and bone men at the corner of South Island Place. By 1910 most of the terraces of Hackford Road had been converted into flats which housed many music hall actors, actresses and vocalists. The area took on a liberal and younger feel, Hackford Road along with Morat Street and Cranworth Gardens even became known to house women working as prostitutes.
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Above – Reay Primary School
Throughout WW2 Hackford Road got off quite lightly, it was damaged by nearby falling bombs and blast but in general it was not damaged to such a devastating effect as with surrounding areas. The southern, more industrial part of the street beyond the intersection with Hillyard Street received the most damage. In the post war years Hackford Road took on a shabbier appearance, many of the cottages and terraces were run down and occupied beyond their natural capacity. In a move to regenerate the area the local authority built the Caldwell Gardens housing estate alongside Hackford Road while private developers had their eye on flattening many of the early victorian cottages on the south eastern side of the street. This move was thwarted in 1973 when Lambeth Council declared 63 to 79 Hackford Road a conservation area stating –
‘The Victorian villas No.s 63-79 Hackford Road are the subject of a planning application which would involve their demolition. It is considered that the loss of these properties would be regrettable since they form part of the original development of stockwell”
The conservation area imposed strict building and alteration rules on this part of the street see here for the full guide to the Hackford Road conservation area. Hackford Road now stands as a mixture of housing styles, 1870’s terraces, 1840’s villas and 1950’s council blocks. At the southern end past Hillyard Street there is a large 1990’s residential block of houses and flats along with commericial units and the Type Museum.
Hackford Road On Maps…
The map above is “Laurie and Whittle New Map of London with its Environs, almost all of the streets that we know so well had not yet been built including Hackford Road, the area was mostly open countryside.
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“Pigot & Co.’s Metropolitan Guide & Miniature Plan Of London from 1820″ shows the area eleven years later. I have added an arrow pointing to the first appearance of Hackford Road on a map. Along with the surrounding streets it is unnamed at this point. It seems that Hackford Road began being built north to south. No buildings remain from the period.
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“Cary’s New Plan Of London And Its Vicinity” shows the area another twenty eight years later in 1837. The unnamed shape on the map 17 years earlier now bears a name, St Ann’s Road, the original name for Hackford Road.
Laurie’s Map of London shows Hackford Road 7 years on from the previous map. It is clear that many more houses have been added. The houses that you can see here on the right hand (east) side of the street still stand today. They are detatched houses of different architectural detail. The left (west) side was also a line of detached houses however they no longer stand.
This is Cross’s New Plan of London 1861.Hackford Road is still called St Ann’s Road.
The map above is a Lambeth Ward Map from 1876 showing the division between the Vauxhall Ward (light blue) and the North Brixton Ward (pink) Hackford Road has lost the name St Ann’s Road and is now labelled with it’s modern name.
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Charles Booth’s Map of London Poverty research took him to Hackford Road in 1895. The Map above is from 1898 and shows how Booth graded the street. The key to what the colours mean can be seen to the right of the image. For more information on Charles Booth and the classification of poverty see here.
Hackford Road can be seen here on this 1918 Ward Map. It is remarkable to note how much the area has built up over the years, especially when scrolling up to the 1809 map when this entire space was empty.
In September 1940 the government started to collect and collate information relating to damage sustained during bombing raids. Hackford Road emerged relatively unscathed in comparison to surrounding areas however it did take quite a few hits and sustained quite a bit of blast damage as you can see above. I will post more about Hackford Road in the wars over on ‘Our streets at war – A street by street guide’ shortly.
Hackford Road in photographs…
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The photo above was taken in 1910. Note the children playing in the street and the iron railings outside of the houses (these were removed in the metal salvage drive in WW2)
The above image is roughly the same view as the 1910 photograph, not much has changed except the addition of cars, wheelie bins and garden walls.
Vincent Van Gogh…
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At the age of 20 Van Gogh arrived in London to start work at an art dealership in Southampton Street and from August of 1873 he lived in 73 Hackford Road. Van Gogh came to work in London for the art dealer Goupil & Cie in Covent Garden. He walked to and from work each day, with his career as an artist looming in the future. The house was owned by a Mrs Ursula Loyer, who lived there with her daughter.
It was Mrs Loyer’s daughter Eugenie who Van Gogh reputedly first fell in love with. His love was documented in letters dotted with Keats’s poems of love and desire. His advances were however totally unrequited and he became obsessive and a nuisance to the quiet Miss Loyer. He was soon asked to leave and find new lodgings in Kennington.
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There is also a sketch of Hackford Road, shown below, which includes number 87, this was in the possession of Eugenie Loyer’s grand daughter, Mrs Kathleen Maynard, and it is now in the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam.
The Hackford Road sketch is the earliest surviving drawing from Vincent’s English period.
Number 87 was recently put up for sale at auction with many original features still intact. It sold for £565,000 and in addition, to commemorate the fact Van Gogh lived here, the Van Gogh Museum of Amsterdam produced a gold medal and presented it to the current owners. This will be given to the new owner. See the video below for a viewing of the property…
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What is now known today as Durand Academy was once two schools side by side, Kennington Secondary School and Durand Primary School. Roger Moore was a pupil at the primary school here in the 1930’s when it was known as Hackford Road Elementary.
The above image is from Durand School in 1921 – it was found here.
British History online tells us the following (written when the school was two separate establishments)
Kennington Secondary School, Hackford Road
This school occupies a plain three-storey brick building which was built for the London School Board by H. Hart of Southwark, whose tender for a school for 996 children was for £10,249. The architect was T. J. Bailey and the date of opening was May 9, 1887. The south wing was added in 1894.
Durand Primary School, Durand Gardens
This building adjoins Kennington Secondary School and was erected for the London School Board in 1888 as a Pupil Teachers’ School. The contractor was H. Hart of Southwark, whose tender was for £6,230. The architect was T. J. Bailey. The building was later used as a secondary school for girls, and a second floor was added in 1906, Bailey being the architect. The south wing was damaged in the war of 1939–45 and has since been rebuilt under the supervision of Mr. Richard Nickson.
Above – A boys science lesson in 1908, Below – A girls science lesson, the same year
Price & King’s Veterinary Practice and Quarantine Station…
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This large building was constructed in 1885 and whilst today it houses the Type Museum it was originally built for Mr Thomas Price’s veterinary practice and quarantine station, later known as Price & King’s. This large rectangular building was built with high ceilings and lofts, specially adapted to be able to house and treat large animals such as elephants and giraffes. It was also one of London’s main quarantine stations for performing animals coming in from abroad, some at the time were very famous, such as The Great Lafayette’s lion.
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The above images are from the Daily Mirror, Thu 28 Nov 1912, the accompanying article reads:
‘It is not generally known that in Brixton is situated one of London’s most fashionable hotels. It is run by Messrs. Price and King exclusively for animals, and here one may meet quadrupeds with the bluest of blue blood in their veins, four footed actors and actresses and many other notables. (1) Lady Saza the human monkey, breakfasting in her private apartment. (2) Miss Ella and one of her lions. (3) Baby Jumbo and his valet pay a call on a zebra. (4) Baroness Lutzell with her clever horses and dogs. (5) Hanky Panky, the well known actor, who appears in ‘Everywoman’ being groomed. Baby Jumbo and Baby Jimbo, The Daily Mirror elephants, now amongst the hotel’s distinguished guests, are looking on.
Sadly on a few months prior to the above article and images on Sunday 24th March 1912 disaster struck and a terrible fire broke out – read more about it in the Hackford Road ‘In the news’ section here.
The Type Museum …
Hackford Road boasts the world’s most significant typographic collection in the building that was once Price and King’s veterinary practice. The site around the museum was Hackford Road’s industrial part, once housing a sausage making factory, a parking depot area for hackney cab’s and Pickford’s removals. The museum houses examples of the art and craft of typography from the last 500 years. More detail on the occupancy of this building here.
The lost businesses of Hackford Road…
To find out more about the lost shops and businesses from 1881 to 1928 on Hackford Road – click here