South Island Place

An overview…

South Island Place runs west to east from Clapham Road all the way through to Brixton Road. It is unclear where the exotic name comes from or why it makes reference to one half of New Zealand, one astute reader has sent me a message saying…

‘You ask where the name ‘South Island Place’ comes from. It would be nice if there was an exotic connection to New Zealand, but I wonder if the answer is a bit more prosaic. This is just a guess, but perhaps the name was originally meant to be ‘South Holland Place’. Some of the old maps (Laurie and Cross) show it as ‘South Highland Place’ or ‘Holland Place’. It would be a logical name, given the Lord Holland connection, and it would have needed to be ‘South’ as just to the north was a terrace on Brixton Road (subsequently nos 21-39) also known as ‘Holland Place’

To modern eyes South Island Place is rather a mess, it is a mixture of buildings from all sorts of opposing eras and sits in the shadow of the Brutalist tower block, Holland Rise. From looking at maps it appears that this street is one of the first to pop up in this area that cross from Clapham Road to Brixton Road, beginning life as a rural footpath through what was in 1809 rural Surrey fields. It seems that the earliest dwellings were built in 1822, cottage style villas, some of which still stand today at the western end of the street and can be seen in the photograph above.

Later in the nineteenth century the street expanded, small houses and shops were built in the 1840’s (you can see these in the photograph section below) along the southwest and southeastern sides of the street. These were joined later in the nineteenth century by mansion block style housing of a similar type to that on Crewdson and Handforth Roads. South Island Place stood more or less like this for a good many years until the bombs of WW2 and the bulldozers of the 1960’s and 70’s.

The war wasn’t kind to this area and South Island Place was hit on a number of occasions resulting in the demolition of various properties, London County Council (LCC) often replacing these bombed out parts with estate blocks. By the early 1960’s much of the remaining older housing and shops were of a poor standard. Stables owned by hawkers stood on the corner where there is now a car park at the junction of Hackford Road, remnants of a bygone era that were swept away in order to build the Holland Rise tower block in 1967. South Island place now stands as a mish mash of 1820’s cottages, 1880’s mansion blocks, low rise council flats from the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s and modern private flats and studios built in the late 1990’s.

South Island Place on maps…


The above image is from a map produced in 1809 and is called ‘Laurie and Whittle’s New Map of London with its Environs, including the Recent Improvements’ This is the oldest map that I can find that shows the area that South Island Place stands upon. At the time it shows South Island place as a thin footpath however it’s early purpose of linking the Clapham & Brixton roads was clearly already in place. Note that at the time Brixton Road was known as ‘The Washway’ due to the Effra flowing along one side of it. This area was predominantly rural at the time of this map, it is hard to believe that such an urban area was once considered idyllic however back then the sound of flowing water, the abundance of open space and the sound of birdsong would have been a welcome retreat from the City itself.


 The above image is from a map produced in 1836 and is called (rather longwindedly) ‘PLAN-OF-LONDON-AND-WESTMINSTER-with-the-Borough-of-SOUTHWARK-Being-an-INDEX-to-the-Large-Plan-in-forty-Sheets’ It shows an unlabelled South Island place having developed from being a ‘Foot Path’ on the previous map above to what is clearly a small road. This area was still considered to be part of the Surrey countryside that surrounded London, note the ‘Rural Cottage’ on Clapham Road.


The above image is from a map produced a year after Crace’s Plan of London in 1837 and is called ‘Carys-New-Plan-Of-London-And-Its-Vicinity’ It is the earliest map that I have found that shows this street labelled as South Island Place.


The above image is from a map produced in 1844 and is called ‘Laurie’s Map of London’ curiously it shows South Island place mis-labelled with ‘South Highland Place’ back then maps were made by hand often by one person on their own so mistakes did occur.


The above image is from a rather ugly map produced in 1859 and is called ‘North Lambeth’ South Island Place can be seen clearly labelled and intersected by what was then called St Ann’s Road, now called Hackford Road.


The above image is from a map produced to show the various Lambeth Wards in 1876. You can see that South Island Place is still bordered by much open space to the north, large gardens belonging to the wealthy home owners that lined Clapham and Brixton Roads.


Charles Booth’s Map of London Poverty research took him to South Island place in 1895. The Map above is from 1898 and shows how Booth graded South Island Place. 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. Booth graded South Island Place as ‘Pink’ which was ‘Good ordinary earnings’.


The above image is from another map produced to show the various Lambeth Wards, this time in 1918. The gardens that were once to the north have been replaced by Offley, Handforth and Crewdson Roads.

South Island Place in photographs…


South Island Place in 1964, you can see the original shops on the south western side before the building of Holland Rise. See below for a rough idea of the same view today.


In this modern view of the same part of the street you can see that the early victorian terrace has been swept away and replaced with Holland Rise, a garden and some new flats.

The cottage style villas to the left of the picture above are the oldest houses on the street, they were the first to be built and three still remain. British History Online in Survey of London: volume 26: Lambeth: Southern area by F. H. W. Sheppard describes these buildings as follows:

Nos. 11–43 (odd) South Island Place

Formerly No. 4 and Nos. 23–8a (consec.) South Island Place

Nos. 11–43 form a continuous terrace of plain two-storey cottages. The front of each cottage contains a rectangular window and a round-arched doorway on the ground floor, two rectangular windows on the first floor, and finishes with a plain coped parapet. The four cottages at the east end have their ground-floor windows set in elliptical-headed recesses, and there are apron panels above the upper windows. Nos. 31 and 41 alone have simple fanlights which are respectively of radiating and circular pattern. Nos. 11–41, March 23, 1822; William Richard Self, July 29, 1823; James Collins of Kennington, mason.’


The photo above shows South Island Place in 1964, you can see the original early Victorian dwellings that lined the southeastern side of the street and survived until the 1970’s.


Roughly the same view today, the terraced houses of the 1840’s are replaced by Bernard Sunley house, a private residential block for the elderly built in 1976.


The two photographs above show what appear to be rag and bone men and their horses that were kept on the corner of South Island Place and Hackford Road. I wonder if they are the stables of Edmond Smith whose Cab Proprietary business stood here according to Kelly’s Directory 1903. A cab proprietor being the owner of one of the many ubiquitous london horse and cart companies, the principle way of getting around the city before the motorcar and the omnibus. Perhaps when the business died out due to lack of demand the stables were kept in use by local hawkers.

The above photograph, taken in 1967 shows the construction of Holland Rise, the first of eight identical blocks that were built in Lambeth using a precast factory-built method. You can see that the builders have cleared all of the area around the base of the tower where the old row of shops used to stand as seen on the photograph further up. The tower was opened in November 1967 and stands at 62 metres or 200ft high and is built in the Brutalist style so popular in the 1960’s. The block was constructed by 80 workmen using 3,720 slabs cast from 13,500 tons of concrete. Other facts noted at the time included: 2,000 light switches and points, 500 water taps, 3,500 panes of glass and 1,600 feet of cable for TV and radio

You can see in the above picture that council blocks fill the spaces left by WW2 bombs and 1960’s modernisers.

Almost every inch of space on South Island Place has been filled by newer properties such as this funny little house that has squeezed between these considerably older buildings, occupying the site of a bomb hit.


The newest building to land in the street is seen above. Michael Haines House, built in 2008 stands on the site of the old South Island Place library and previous to that a row of houses that were destroyed in WW2. 

The lost shops of South Island Place…

The cutting above is taken from Kelly’s Directory 1903 and it shows the variety of businesses that once filled South Island Place. If you have poked around elsewhere on this website you will no doubt have noticed that almost every street once had shops and businesses, far more than our sprinkling of Londis and Tesco of the modern day. The difference back then of course was that many shops specialised in one product rather than the supermarkets of today that stock everything.

A South Island Place Ghost Story…

The following text is taken from all copy write and credit goes to them for the following spooky story…

In 1984 a trainee manager was required (as part of his training programme) to walk the tunnel of the Northern Line…when all the trains had stopped running for the night…between Oval and Stockwell stations.

As he trudged up the dark and silent tunnel, armed only with his battery powered torch, he came across an older man working in a wider section of the tunnel. The workman was using an old fashion Tilly lamp. These paraffin fuelled lamps had once been in common use on the London Underground but, by 1984, they had all but disappeared having been replaced by battery powered torches.

The trainee manager stopped for a chat with the workman.

The trainee manager made a comment about how unusual it was to see someone still using an old Tilly lamp to which the workman replied that he preferred the Tilly lamp to the new torches. The trainee manager then asked the workman whether this wider section of the tunnel had a name and was told it was called South Island Place. After saying goodnight to each other, the trainee manager set off again on up the tunnel and arrived shortly after at Stockwell Station.

He then rang the station supervisor at Oval Station to inform him that he had safely completed the required track-walk and that the track appeared to be in good order. He was just about to hang up the receiver when he suddenly remembered the workman he had seen and so he told the supervisor about the workman he had seen in South Island Place. The supervisor then informed him that there was not supposed to be anyone working on that section of the line that night. A search of the track between Oval and Stockwell Stations was hastily organised to locate the workman but no trace of him was ever found.

The trainee manager later found out that the ghost of a workman who had been killed by a train in the 1950s near South Island Place had been seen on numerous occasions. The workman had been operating a very noisy compressor at the time of the accident and he probably never heard the sound of the approaching train that was about to end his life. The unfortunate driver of the train that killed him reported that, at the time of the fatal collision, the man had been carrying a Tilly lamp…

48 Responses to South Island Place

  1. Anonymous says:

    You ask where the name ‘South Island Place’ comes from. It would be nice if there was an exotic connection to New Zealand, but I wonder if the answer is a bit more prosaic. This is just a guess, but perhaps the name was originally meant to be ‘South Holland Place’. Some of the old maps (Laurie and Cross) show it as ‘South Highland Place’ or ‘Holland Place’. It would be a logical name, given the Lord Holland connection, and it would have needed to be ‘South’ as just to the north was a terrace on Brixton Road (subsequently nos 21-39) also known as ‘Holland Place’.

  2. Martin Eloury says:

    Hi there, my ancestor was a Richard Harding, and he owned a grocers shop at 5 South Island Place from the early 1830’s to the 1850’s . I wonder if any old photos of this area exist?

    Best wishes, Martin

  3. Pearl Catlin says:

    Loved all this about South Island Place. I remember it so well but what a horror is Holland Rise. And that poor little house squeezed into a bomb site! They could at least have gone up another storey!

  4. I own a flat in Holland Rise House, and to its defence the interiors are very well designed. If you’re lucky enough to be facing Central London the views are amazing, as are the sunsets. It’s a strange building, as it seems to evoke negative reactions from those who don’t know it well. But speaking as someone who does, it’s actually a pleasure to live there.

  5. I own a flat in Holland Rise House, and to its defense the interiors are very well designed. If you’re lucky enough to be facing Central London the views are amazing, as are the sunsets. It’s a strange building, as it seems to evoke negative reactions from those who don’t know it well. But speaking as someone who does, it’s actually a pleasure to live there.

  6. Alan Roberts says:

    My great grand father was Arthur William Elliott, a carpenter and joiner of 43 South Island Place, listed on the 1903 Kelly’s Directory above. He worked from there until his retirement before the second world war. My grandmother and her brothers and sisters grew up there in the 1890’s.

  7. Alan Roberts says:

    My great grandfather was Arthur William Elliott, cabinet maker, of 43 South Island Place on the list above. I have a photo of him outside the property and also a pile of his headed paper .

  8. vikki mortimore says:

    I a researching my family history and have come to Arthur H Rundle who is listed in the 1933 telephone directory as being a Wheelright,Tyresmith of 61 South Island Place which I see was Chas. Eatwell Cabs in 1903. As Arthur was a Blacksmith in 1911 I wonder if he was anything to do with those stables and horses which you seem to think are the same property. ?

  9. jackie says:

    i lived in 24 south island place in 1952 all 3 sisters were born there we moved to liberty st as the flat only had 2 bedrooms and we were lots down the road was a sweet shop faceing that a green grocer and along by sweet shosp a fish and chip shop mum use to get duch eel and chips there was a school there the ray school which i also whent to oh so long ago

    • Amanda says:

      I lived at number 24, top two floors, from birth in 1964 and my two great Aunts lived in Glengariff Mansions. I also went to Reay primary school. We moved to Cranworth Gardens in 1978. Loved living at 24.

  10. Pamela Egeland (Mrs) says:

    I was very interested to find photo and description of South Island Place. The 1911 Census shows my grandfather, father and uncle living at no.4. At the time, my grandfather was a coach driver for a funeral firm – I think that this was probably a horse drawn coach and probably the horse was stabled in the area. My father was one of the first dental apprentices at a London hospital.

    • Deborah says:

      My great grandfather William Henry Bird who was a rag and bone man kept his horse polly at the South Island stables. One day My Dad Alexander Bird and his cousin William Henry Bird (Harry) Bird went to stables got polly the horse and rode her bare backed down the Wandsworth Road.

  11. Daniel Malthouse says:

    I like to know if there was a workshop in South island place called Malthouse Lamps.It would have been around 1900.
    Many thanks.

  12. ALEX Richie says:

    I lived in South Island Place from 1946 to 1968.No.6 and the bakers at
    the east end of the street was Wilson’s where I bought bread as a lad-
    half a loaf for 1/4 penny . There was no cut packaged bread in 1956,only if Wilson’s put it through their machine.
    A Mr.Carr, furniture maker was to the Northern end near Hackford Rd.opposite the prefabs where the Westrips lived and a bomb site next to them.
    Toye’s fish and chip shop was opposite where the stable was and can remember the coffee bar at the extreme western end where we kept playing
    “Running Bear” on the juke box around 1960.Over the road in Clapham Road was the Dorset pub where I was sat outside with pop and crisps with my mum and dad inside.I wonder if anyone out there can remember it.
    I’m now 70 and it would be wonderful.
    Alexander Richie.

    • Robin Stevens says:

      I was born and brought up in 1953 at 88 Clapham Road above Keith & Boyle ‘s.
      Used to buy my sweets in Kay’s, my hair was cut at Sid’s and I played in that phone box.
      I used the library in South Island Place and played with many kids in that street. Our family were friends of the Chapmans who ran the laundry, the younger son Peter was my age, the older son Richard was a motorcycle mate of my older brother.
      Yep I too could often be found outside The Dorset with a bottle of pop and a packet of crisps!
      Robin Stevens

      • Kay Stiffkkaystiffay stiff says:

        The coffee bar at the top of sip used to be weeks’ removals.
        A friend of ours who also lives in Richborne Terrace was the secretary there and I used to go in there in my dinner hour from Reay school. They used to move the band leader Eric Delaney’s drums. One day he came in when I was there and he was so friendly. A friend of mine from school her sister and partner took t over and made it a coffee bar. Would love to have reply from Robin…….Kay

    • Glen Westrip says:

      Thank you Alex for remembering the Westrip family in South Island place. I am the youngest Son of Alex And Gwen Westrip. I was very young when we left SIP.My two elder brothers Chris And Barry have fond memories of the prefab we lived in and they both remember you well. We all hope you are fit and well.

      • Kaykaystiff Stiff says:

        Hello I was at school with Barry Westrip, we were in the same class and I remember he always used to write with very large pencils and we used to ask to borrow them.
        My brother was the Freind of the butchers son Butch was his nickname, they were teddy boys. Near Coleman’s butchers was Troys fish and chip shop. And Codes sweet shop. There was a large greengrocers.near the prefabs called Roses and there more stables next to it. Kay Stiff.

    • Pearl Catlin says:

      I was a friend of Margaret Wilson, we were at school together. (Hackford Road) Her family were terrifyingly religious Plymouth Brethren. Her big brother was always kind but her poor Mother was always so timid and frightened of her dad. He was so strict.
      I think they also owned Wilson’s the Baker’s on South Lambeth Road. Lovely cream cakes after school. But we had been moved to Vauxhall because of bomb damage and Wilson’s was on the way home after school. There was an off licence a few doors down owned by a grumpy man who married another friend’s auntie Elsie from Albert Square.

    • Barry Westrip says:

      Dear Alex.Have just discovered that my brother Glen replied to you on Oval History in January,which i knew nothing about.Had i known i would have replied to you.Further to Glens comments, i have looked on various sites over the years hoping to contact you, to find out our life has treated you.I look back with great fondness to my days in South Island Place playing cricket and football in the street with you , Chris Furey, and others,the bonfires on 5th of november in the back of our garden.I remember your mum and dad, who were so kind to me and the holiday at Margate with you and them , a wonderful time.Please get in touch Alex. Our email address is or mobile 07855 874746.
      Best regards.
      Barry Westrip.
      ps I’m in touch with Chris Furey

      • Barry Westrip says:

        Dear Alex ,Have just discovered that my brother replied to you on Oval History in January, which i knew nothing about.Had I known i would have replied.Further to Glens comments i have looked on various sites over the years hoping to find you to see how life has treated you. I look back with great memories to my days in South Island Place,playing football and cricket with you, Chris Furey and others.The bonfires on 5th November in our back garden. I remember with great fondness your mum and dad who were so kind to me and the holiday at Margate with Them and you .A wonderful time. Please get in touch Alex. My Mobile No is 07855 874746.Best regards Barry Westrip

    • Alex I too lived in South Island Place next to the Westrips, there was 5 brothers the 2 eldest Alec & Terry died at fairly young age. We moved out in 1956 did you live in a top flat on the same side as Wilsons Bakery do I recall you going to a maritime school in London ? If I am confused I apologise.
      Gerald Farrant

    • Dave Toye says:

      My grandparents owned the fish and chip shop and I visited fairly often until I was around 16 years old. I’m 73 now.

      Dave Toye

  13. michael Parker says:

    Hi I remember your brother we use to play with them I have a photo in your back garden somewhere I will fine it & put it on this site we lived at number 26 SIP name the Parker Peter & Ronnie was my mum & dad names hope they all keeping well

  14. Anonymous says:

    I was born in South Island Place and remember Wilson’s very well, the chemist on the corner, Mr. Williams sweet shop and one at the other end of SIP, corner of Clapham Road. I remember the library and the funny little terrace house, half way up!
    There were definitely horses kept through the archway that’s visible in the photo, taken in 1964 showing the early Victorian dwellings, replaced by Bernard Sunley House. I was often allowed to feed them Polo’s and vaguely remember the owner had a handcart from which we purchased Toffee Apples and brown paper bags full of Monkey Nuts!
    I regularly played on ‘the swings’ of Holland Rise and used the cut through by the library to walk to Primary school.
    Very fond memories of the late sixties and seventies growing up on SIP.

  15. Barry Westrip says:

    Sorry Chris. on my comments to Alex Richie it Says i need to moderate my comments can you please explain. By the way i love your website. Regards Barry.

  16. Kay Stiffkkaystiffay stiff says:

    In the picture of the stables next to the Library (1964),The shop on the corner(Rose Laundry), had been a doll’s hospital in the early 1950. I had a doll repaired there, it’s arm had come off,,they repaired it within two days. Don’t know when the dolls hospital closed. Anyone remember ?
    Also rembered the name of our class teacher at Reay school
    In 1957, Mr Neville. Anyone remember him? Would love to hear anyone’s memories.

    • Paulette says:

      We lived at 62 South Island Place until 1965. We also went to Reay School. It seemed so much bigger then. I know there was a head mistress there but don’t remember the name. We went back for a visit in 1985 and most of the homes were gone but 62 was still there with a blue door. It’s probably gone by now.

      • Luwi says:

        Hi Paulette, my partner and I just moved into number 62. So rest assured that Wildcroft is still standing 🙂 The door is now green, though.

        On the higher-numbered end, I think only 62, 64, 66 haven’t been replaced. But houses on the lower-numbered end (below 30) are mostly still the original ones as well.

        • Paulette says:

          Wow that’s amazing. I must tell my older brother who is the only one that still lives in England. We thought it was long gone. 😊

  17. Kay Stiffkkaystiffay stiff says:

    An old schoolfriend and I were talking over New Year about our old School Reay. She remembered Barry Westrip, Peter Kester Freddie Death & Brian Rayner & Peter Wilson. Do you remember any of these boys Barry? You put your email add on the site but have only asked for Alex to reply. My friend still lives in Cranworth Gdns, and it has changed so much around there. Do you remember Mr Neville, and how he would throw the chalk rubber at us if we were talking.

    • Diane Rowden says:

      Diane Rowden nee Morrison: I lived in Cranworth Gardens from 1945-1965. I went to the Reay School Peter Wilson and his brother Bobby lived in Cranworth Gardens. There was Tony Jarrett, Ann Kent, Maureen and Pat . Reading the history has brought back so many wonderful memories. I also get news from the Reay School at the end of term.

  18. Barry Westrip says:

    Hi Kay. No disrespect intended,firstly i do remember a kay but can’t remember your surname.Secondly i do remember Peter Kester Freddie Death and Brian Rayner.If you would like to know more i do have some information about all three. If you would like to know more please get in touch preferably by phone at 07855874746.If not my Email address is .Regards Barry

  19. Glen Westrip says:

    Hi Chris thank you very much for sending me the photos of South Island Place. I’ve shown the photos to my older brother Chris who immediately recognised them as SIP. He was born in the first prefab next to the houses. Your email has prompted a lot discussion about SIP and the oval. Thank you again and please keep up the good work. Regards Glen Westrip

  20. Simon Parker says:

    Still drive though there now time to time, great times in the Parker 26 home and the area. Great memories.
    Simon Parker

  21. Katrina Sarcone says:

    I used love going to South island workshop. I still remember the queens jubilee party in the car park great memories of my childhood. I see to live in the flats

  22. Lesley Dellagana says:

    My husband’s ancestors lived briefly at Vine Cottage, South Island Place, just prior to moving to Doddington Road, Kennington, in 1861. Does anybody know which was Vine Cottage? Any photos available? We would be most grateful if anybody can supply us with information. Thank you.

  23. Michael Hall says:

    My great grandma Mrs. Samuel Chevin Hall certainly and possibly my great grandpa of same lived at 54 South Island Place in 1918 when their son Sydney then living and working near Buenos Aires was married in August 1918 to Eliza Ann Jones from Stockport at a location in Santa Fe Argentina. Samuel his father I understand perhaps may have had an upholstery business in High Street Marylebone.

  24. Clive says:

    I went to Reay school also, I remember Mr Neville, Lived on South Island place, had lot of fun and memories and had many friends there too.

    • Clive says:

      Mr Todd teacher at reay school, does any one remember him? Clayton brown,Ronnie westgate , Margret Tyler, Timothy Donovan, Joseph Margo , Bobby seggie , the Dunning twins John and Micheal, Karen Philips, Laura Mcguskey , Miss mazola the dinner lady , Mrs Robertson the teacher , Thomas Fanfare , Mr Barable Head master

  25. Richard Smith says:

    I attended the array School 1951 to 1955 , went to Durand Gdns before that then onto Kennington Central all in Hackford road. Lots of memories. Miss Vickery, Mrs Shilling, Mr Wall Headmaster, Miss West. Anyone out there who went there then. Also my two sisters where there before me, just remembered Mrs Cheesman also

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  27. Chris C says:

    During the 1950s we lived at 31 South Island Place. The house had no bathroom or indoor lavatory, but boasted an unusual three bedrooms because one was built over the arch to what must have been the yard of the cab proprietor mentioned in the 1903 edition of Kelly’s. One day the leg of my bed went through the floor into the space below. On the south side, going towards Clapham Road I remember Coad’s sweetshop and the fish and chip shop where I was sent to buy “three eights and ten pennyworth” for Saturday lunch. Opposite was the greengrocers with a bombsite alongside where there were occasionally horses to be seen. And at the Brixton Road end I remember Wilsons very well -I can still remember the taste of their Belgian buns. Throughout my childhood I was fascinated by the prefabs opposite our house and longed to know what they were like inside. We left in 1959 and now I don’t expect I would recognise the place, but nice to see everyone else’s memories.

  28. Amanda says:

    I lived at number 24, top two floors, from birth in 1964 and my two great Aunts lived in Glengariff Mansions. I also went to Reay primary school. We moved to Cranworth Gardens in 1978. Loved living at 24.

  29. Steven says:

    I am researching the history of my car. The first owner lived in South Island Place. Does anyone remember a red MGB GT in South Island Place in 1967-8? Thank you.

  30. Tony says:

    I worked on what is now Holland Rise in the 60s. We only ever knew it as South Island Place.

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