Lambeth: A Short Guide
Lambeth is located in South London, spanning about seven miles just south of the river Thames. The borough includes many districts, such as Streatham, Clapham, Vauxhall and West Norwood, as well as its civic centre of Brixton. It’s flanked on its east side by the borough of Southwark, Wandsworth on the west, and Croydon to the south.
The History of Lambeth
Lambeth’s name has an early recording in 1062 as Lambehitha, meaning the “landing place for lambs”, and then as Lambeth in 1255. Until the late 1800s, it was considered part of Surrey, looking over the Thames opposite to the cities of London and Westminster.
With Greater London’s development and urban sprawl through the 19th and 20th centuries, the area shortly became the Metropolitan Borough of Lambeth. However, during the 1965 local government reform, the Streatham and Clapham parts of the Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth were united with this area to create the London Borough of Lambeth.
Culture and Business
Lambeth is known for its vibrant community. Largely consisting of residential property, council data shows that the borough houses a population of 327,600. Of this population, there is a greater than average proportion of younger adults, with 44% aged 20-39 years old compared to the national average of 27%.
Lambeth is highly culturally diverse, with around 42% of its total population belonging to Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups, and over 150 languages spoken. The borough is also home to the highest relative gay or lesbian population in the UK, at around 5.5% — likely due to it containing the gay village of Vauxhall and the Clapham area.
Across the borough, approximately 10,700 businesses operate, with major sectors including financial services, healthcare, hospitality, and creative and digital industries. Areas like the South Bank towards central London are large business hubs, even on a global scale. The area is a popular tourist destination with plenty of attractions and hospitality ventures, but also hosts major employers like ITV and Shell.
Brixton is the hub for restaurants and nightlife in Lambeth, with a prolific independent food scene and large music venues like the O2 Academy. The district also boasts a number of street markets that operate daily. The Brixton Station Road Market is open seven days a week and features the largest Caribbean food market in Europe, as well as a farmers market on Sundays for fresh organic produce. Elsewhere, the Herne Hill Market offers jewellery, handmade crafts and community stalls.
The South Bank is a renowned tourist area, home to the Southbank Centre, SEA LIFE London, and The London Dungeon. Of course, the parade also features the most-visited paid tourist attraction in the UK, the London Eye — which draws in 3.5 million visitors annually.
Just nearby, visitors will find historical sites such as the Florence Nightingale Museum and Lambeth Palace, the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The arts also have a significant presence across the borough, with spots like the National Theatre and the Brixton Murals, painted by local artists following the 1981 Brixton riots.