For some north Londoners Brixton is a different country. The distant end of the Victoria line which sounds like it might be worth exploring one day but will have to wait because it’s FAR. Tim Dickens and Zoe Jewell are here to convince us that Brixton is well worth the journey with the help of their website, Brixton Blog. Here are five secret spots to make your trip to Brixton even more worthwhile. Just don’t forget the jerk chicken.
Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses
‘Open the gates of the Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses and emerge into an oasis of calm. I remember my excitement on first discovering the hidden garden as a child – real vegetables, chillis and fruit growing right here in the middle of the city. The garden was originally designed to grow produce for the main house, now Brockwell Hall, at the top of the park. Yes, it’s a little disappointing that you can’t gobble up the wonderful array of produce, but it is sold to generate revenue for the good work of the community here – projects with local schools, residents and the homeless charity St Mungo’s.
Nour Cash and Carry, Electric Avenue
‘A tiny corridor of an entrance from Electric Avenue, lined with an array of fresh fruit and veg, opens out into a treasure trove of Middle Eastern goodies at this excellent food store in Brixton Market. Nour Cash & Carry celebrate ten years of business this year and rightly so – your every need is met here, from tahini to cheap Tupperware to the most comprehensive spice aisle around. This week’s fresh fruit ‘n’ veg highlights include aromatic bags of basil and £1 punnets of donut peaches.’
‘Many people living in Brixton don’t know themselves that just around the corner, tucked behind the Blenheim Estate, is inner London’s only surviving working windmill. Built in 1816, it was leased to the Ashby family to whom it now owes its true name, Ashby’s Mill. It was lovingly restored by the Friends of Brixton Windmill in 2011 and is now open to the public for building tours a few times a month.’
Herne Hill Velodrome
‘A cycle ride away from Brixton, the Herne Hill velodrome is the last finals venue still in use from the 1948 Olympics and is one of the best cycling tracks in the country. Bradley Wiggins started his career here and the velodrome continues the tradition with its laudable emphasis on allowing novices, especially children, to train here. The track was built in the 1890s at the height of the Victorian obsession with a new technology – the bicycle. In the twenties, cycle racing became so popular that up to 10,000 people would attend events at the velodrome. There aren’t so many there these days but it’s a fun sport to watch even if you don’t fancy taking part. There are regular bike jumble sales and cycle-powered cinema events too.’
‘A favourite pub in Brixton – many a happy night has been spent here dancing the hours away fuelled by excellent (though quite pricey) rum cocktails and the good mood of the diverse crowd. There is no pressure to be ‘cool’ here. On sunny weekends, Mango Landin’ do BBQs outside in their beer garden. Shaded by brightly coloured umbrellas and with mojito in hand, it’s pretty much the perfect place to be.’