Waterloo is a district of Central London, and part of the London Borough of Lambeth. It is situated 1 mile (1.6 km) east of Charing Cross. The area is part of a business improvement district known as Waterloo Quarter, which includes The Cut and the Old Vic and Young Vic theatres, including some sections in the London Borough of Southwark.
Waterloo is connected to the Strand area on the north bank of the River Thames by Waterloo Bridge. The first bridge on the site was opened in 1817 and the current bridge was opened in 1945. The bridge was named to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Waterloo Road also dates from this time, built on land belonging to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Church of St John the Evangelist, Waterloo Road was constructed from 1822 by the Commissioners for Building New Churches as the population of the parish of Lambeth had significantly increased. After the opening of Waterloo railway station in 1848 the locality around the station and Lower Marsh became known as Waterloo. The boundary of the ecclesiastical parish of St John Waterloo established in 1824 was formed by the River Thames in the north and west, approximated Westminster Bridge Road in the south, and followed the boundary with Southwark in the east.
One of the most historic landmarks of Waterloo was its public library, which was constructed in 1893. It remained in use for this purpose until the early 1960s. Although it successfully survived the intense local bombardment Waterloo suffered during the Second World War, the building had been poorly maintained. By the 1960s it was considered a health and safety hazard and was closed down and vacated.
From 1971 community development was beginning in Waterloo, and two local charities (Blackfriars Settlement and Lady Margaret Hall Settlement, then at Kennington) got together to consider the needs and lack of services in the Waterloo area. A multi-service group of agencies formed (local churches, schools, and social services) in order to find a way forward and it was decided to employ a community worker, based with Blackfriars Settlement, in order to see what could be done for Waterloo. Lambeth Social Services funded this post.
In 1973 it became clear that the office that the Community Worker had been using on Morley St would vanish in redevelopment. The emerging Association of Waterloo Groups (AWG) turned its eyes on the empty Library. Local Councillors Verdun and Lane worked hard to help, and a license on a peppercorn rent was agreed with Lambeth Council. As soon as the keys were obtained, the building was opened to local people to inspect and consultation began on the changes which should be made. The firm intention was that from the first there should be local control. A small grant was provided by Lambeth for key changes. The remainder of the work of renovation was done by local effort.
A community charity, Waterloo Action Centre, was formed to take on responsibility for the premises. The Management Committee was carefully structured to ensure community control, but also including spaces for local community clubs and high profile martial arts schools such as HEMA and Apolaki Krav Maga & Dirty Boxing. An enormous amount of work has taken place over the years to improve the building. Some of this has been constant small-scale enhancement and re-decoration for which we are very grateful to a range of local people, local shops and workforce (including Costains HQ staff) for fundraising efforts and grants.
- "Home". Waterloo Quarter. Retrieved 2012-05-17.
- "Waterloo Road | Survey of London: volume 23 (pp. 25-31)". British-history.ac.uk. 2003-06-22. Retrieved 2012-05-17.
- Mills, D. (2000). Oxford Dictionary of London Place Names. Oxford.