View of restaurants on the central section of Lavender Hill, looking east
|Former name(s)||Lavender Place (eastern end)|
|Maintained by||Wandsworth Borough Council|
|Length||0.8 mi (1.3 km)|
|Location||London, United Kingdom|
|Nearest rail station||Clapham Junction Railway Station|
|West end||Clapham Junction|
|East end||Wandsworth Road|
Lavender Hill is a hill, and a shopping and residential street, near Clapham Junction in Battersea, south London. The street name Lavender Hill is a continuation of St John's Hill and forms the section of the A3036 as it rises eastwards out of the Falconbrook valley at Clapham Junction, and retains that name for approximately 1.3 km to the corner of Queenstown Road in Battersea, beyond which it is called Wandsworth Road towards Vauxhall.
History of the street
The geographical feature is named Lavender Hill due to the commercial cultivation of lavender there in the pre-industrial era. Several other smaller streets including Lavender Gardens and Lavender Sweep (Lavender Gardens was the former home of Sarah, Duchess of York where she lived in a flat before her marriage) also bear the reference and can be seen on 18th century maps as being largely farmland, with the earliest reference to the still-existing Falcon public house at the west end of the street in 1767.
The opening of Clapham Junction railway station in 1863 led to rapid residential and commercial development along the street, with construction of a large number of houses as well as many large civic and commercial buildings. By 1885 it was such a busy commercial district that Arding and Hobbs, the largest department store south of the River Thames, was built.
Battersea Central Library was opened in March 1890, following an architectural competition that was won by Edward William Mountford (who also designed the Old Bailey) with a mildly Flemish Renaissance design that was described as "inexpensively devised and designed to not needlessly clash with the adjoining houses which are of the speculating builders’ type of work". It quickly proved popular and saw several subsequent extensions, notably with the addition in 1924 of a reference library on Altenburg Gardens (in a part of the original ploit that had originally been intended for a museum) that was designed by Henry Hyams.
The Shakespeare Theatre - next to the present day Battersea Arts Centre - was built in 1896. It was severely damaged in the Second World War, before being demolished in 1957 and replaced by an office building called Shakespeare House).
A large Central Post Office, designed by Jasper Wager, was built in 1898, and extended with a sorting office designed by John Rutherford in around 1913 (although the original buildings were replaced by a modern structure designed by an unknown architect at the Ministry of Works in 1961).
The imposing Church of the Ascension, desighed by James Brooks was built in 1883 to cater to the growing population of the neighbouring Shaftesbury Estate. A Welsh Methodist chapel was built on Beauchamp Road, reflecting what was once a significant Welsh population.
Lavender Hill in popular culture
In 1967 English group The Kinks made a song entitled Lavender Hill, which appeared on several collections of material not from albums including The Great Lost Kinks Album, and has been described as "a southerner's counterpoint to the Beatles' Penny Lane".
Contemporary Lavender Hill
Lavender Hill is now principally a shopping street along much of its length. The traders' association runs the annual Lavender Festival, to raise the profile of the street as a shopping and entertainment destination.
The western end of the street has the highest footfall, due to large commuter flows towards Clapham Junction station. Its architecture is dominated by the landmark Arding and Hobbs building (which is still a department store, and now part of Debenhams), a number of restaurants and cafes (including a branch of Pizza Express with decoration loosely themed on The Lavender Hill Mob). There is a large Asda supermarket with an underground car park, and a branch of Whole Foods Market. This section also includes the Battersea central Post Office and telephone exchange, and the Grade II listed Battersea Reference Library.
The flatter central section of the road, at the top the hill, includes approximately 15 estate agents (including Courtenay, Winkworth and Foxtons), as well as Lavender Hill police station (the main police station for the Battersea area) and the Battersea Arts Centre. There is a concentration of restaurants and bars along the central section.
The eastern end of the street is anchored by smaller branches of Sainsbury's and Tesco at the crossroads with Queenstown Road, and includes a wide variety of restaurants and bars as well as clusters of shops from sectors including cycling, music equipment, interior design, decorators merchants, and contemporary furniture. This section of the road is dominated by independent businesses with relatively few national operators (with the exception of a few cafes such as Caffè Nero).
Although primarily residential, Lavender Hill includes significant office space, notably at the Battersea Business Centre, which provides workspace for around 140 businesses in a former Victorian factory complex at 99-109 Lavender Hill.
The area around Lavender Hill included a small proportion of industrial land use (including the area now occupied by the Asdasupermarket which was originally a rail yard). Some small sites continued into the early 2000s (with manufacturers such as Rotoplas precision engineering on Stormont Road) however almost all industrial land has been converted to residential development as the area has gentrified.
There is a Travelodge hotel on Falcon Lane close to the western end of Lavender Hill, and a new Premier Inn is due to be constructed near the eastern end of Lavender Hill (in a former Temperance Hall at the junction with Wandsworth Road).
Transport at the western end of Lavender Hill is dominated by Clapham Junction reilway station, one of the busiest in Europe. The eastern end is an approximately ten minute walk from several smaller stations, notably Wandsworth Road railway station, Clapham Common tube station and Queenstown Road railway station.
In the 1890s Lavender Hill was developed as a major tram route, with tram route 26 running along Lavender Hill on the way from Kew Bridge to London Bridge, and route 28 running from Harrow Road to Victoria. The tram lines were removed in the early 1950s and replaced by several bus services (currently including the 77, 87 and 156 buses) that still follow the same route between Wandsworth and Vauxhall.
There are three Santander Cycles public cycle hire docking stations on or close to Lavender Hill (on Dorothy Road at the western end, on Lavender Hill itself close to the junction with Sugden Road, and on Ashley Crescent at the eastern end).
- Wandsworth Council - Conservation area character statement for Clapham Junction, including history of the street
- Diana - Her True Story, The Commemorative Edition, Andrew Morton, Pocket Books, 1998, p. 210
- Survey of London, Volume 49: Battersea - Chapter 1, Public Buildings - Bartlett School of Architecture
- Historic England - Listing entry for the 1924 Reference library extension
- The Theatres Trust - Theatres Database - The Shakespeare Theatre, 168 Lavender Hill
- British Post Office Buildings and Their Architects - Battersea Post Office (1898)
- British Post Office Buildings and Their Architects - Battersea Post Office (1961), 202 Lavender Hill
- Parish Church of the Ascension on Lavender Hill
- Rootsweb listing of Welsh chapels in London, including Welsh chapel at 30 Beauchamp Road
- Brit movie - Lavender Hill Mob - explaining naming after the street
- Pop Archaeologist - The Kinks, Lavender Hill, 1967
- Lavender Hill Traders' Association website, with mention of Lavender Festival
- British Listed Buildings - Battersea District Reference Library, Wandsworth
- Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce - Workspace in Wandsworth
- Unit Management - Managed workspace - Battersea Business Centre
- Whitbread Trading Update, 9 September 2014
- Public Transport Accessibility Level contour map
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