Brixton is the centre of Lambeth, one of London’s 33 Boroughs and Windrush Square is at the very heart of Lambeth’s most populous town centre.
Electric Avenue in Brixton was the first street in London to be lit by electric light in 1880 and by the turn of the century Brixton had developed into South London’s main shopping and commercial centre. Brixton was badly bombed during World War 2 leading to a housing crisis and urban decay. In the immediate post-war period damaged and undamaged properties were compulsorily purchased and the local authority became the biggest landlord. Those streets that were not rebuilt as council housing became increasingly run down and provided cheap and often desperate housing for, among others, many people from the West Indies who started to settle in Brixton from the 1950s.
Brixton presents itself as the epitome of Black London, yet it is now even more international than that, with significant Portuguese, Latin American and West African communities as well. Today there are new shifts in the demographic of the area: the once neglected terraces of late-Victorian and Edwardian housing are now sought after by professional gentrifiers, former council estates are being rebuilt as private blocks of flats and food stalls on Brixton’s covered market are being reinvented as pop-up restaurants.
Windrush Square commemorates the boat on which the first substantial group of Jamaicans to arrive in Brixton sailed on in 1948. In 1998 the area in front of what is now the Black Cultural Archives, in Brixton was renamed "Windrush Square" to mark the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Windrush. Later, as part of a Transport for London investment into the area, the original Tate Gardens was joined with Windrush Square to create a ‘new’ larger Windrush Square, which was opened in February 2010. The square is a place of local cultural and community focus and the protests that have taken place in Brixton have a wider resonance and significance to the rest of London: gentrification of the area, rising price of living, government funding cuts.