The Book Warehouse, Waterloo: where browsers have legs

May is Lambeth Readers and Writers Month, but with Lambeth selling off two of its nine public libraries, and effectively shutting down another three, any spark of local good news in the book world burns extra bright. Well, here’s one cheering item for book lovers. The Book Warehouse discount bookshop outside Waterloo Station at 158 Waterloo Road may have closed to make way for yet more flats, but lo and behold, it’s cropped up again around the corner at 104 Lower Marsh SE1 7AB. It’s in smaller temporary premises, and once again Richard Brunning and the lovely Olga preside over lots of good stuff.

The new bookshop is a few doors down from Waterloo Library, one of the two public libraries Lambeth is flogging off. The other is Stockwell’s Minet. Still, with The Book Warehouse opening, the Ian Allan store still in business on the opposite side of Lower Marsh and The Bookshop Theatre secondhand bookstore-cum-theatre/cinema a short walk away at 51 The Cut SE1 8LF, it’s still possible in Waterloo to see, touch and be surprised by books on a shelf. Customers became so engrossed in the stock at the old Book Warehouse they left behind belongings that included a Mr Punch puppet, glasses, teddy bears, walking sticks and even two big bags full of towels. From what we have seen (and bought) the new, smaller Book Warehouse is inch-per-inch equally absorbing. Contact: 020 7620 2318.

Come to the Durning Library Crisis Meeting, 20 April

Vauxhall Cross ‘consultation': ‘Trust us, we’re Transport for London’

vauxhall bus station by andrea winkelsdorf

The Vauxhall Society is always nagging people to respond to this or that consultation document from Lambeth Council or Transport for London. But a growing number of people are beginning to doubt that it’s worth the effort.

‘Could there be tampering with the replies?’ asks one correspondent of TfL’s alleged findings of a TfL survey on Vauxhall Cross that TfL says rubber-stamps what TfL wants to do.

We have no proof of ‘tampering’, yet. But you could be forgiven for thinking that TfL/Lambeth consultation as it affects Vauxhall is rigged, whether by accident or design or a bit of both. TVS is tabling the consultation issue at the 22 April board meeting of the Kennington, Oval & Vauxhall Forum of amenity groups, so let’s see where it leads.

The Brixton Society in its March newsletter joins Vauxhall amenity groups in complaining that Lambeth is ‘very hit and miss’ on who it sends planning applications to. Accident, design or a bit of both?

Lambeth is in cahoots with TfL on Vauxhall Cross. TfL got off on the wrong consultative foot years ago years ago, when it handed over ‘consultation’ on the Battersea Power Station/Northern Line Tube Extension to a property developer. Shortly before going out of business, this developer publicly apologized for misleading the rx generic levitra public in the ‘consultation’.

Our correspondent, who gave her name but does not want it published, is not a member of The Vauxhall Society but is one of the 2,000-plus people who have so far signed the Save Vauxhall Bus Station online petition we host.

She smelled a rat with the TfL’s report on its latest ‘consultation’ on Vauxhall Cross, as does Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey. This is about whether to have two-way traffic on the Vauxhall Gyratory (as TfL/Lambeth now want), rather than one-way (as they used to want). The change would involve carving up or even demolishing Vauxhall Bus Station to make way for property development.

TfL says it received 2,181 responses to its Vauxhall Cross ‘consultation’ and guess what? TfL finds the responses demonstrate that people want what TfL wants.
For example:

  • 77 per cent of respondents either support or strongly support the overall aim of creating a thriving centre in Vauxhall
  • 65 per cent support the conversion of the gyratory to two-way working
  • 63 per cent support TfL’s proposals ‘around the bus station’

All those ‘Yesses’ are to shape detailed plans that which will go to further consultation this year. What price that ‘consultation’ will also be met with a resounding Y-E-S, according to TfL?

‘Give the response of everyone on two-way working and changes to the bus station whom I’ve ever spoken, I find it very hard to believe the figures in this report’ our correspondent writes.

‘If 2,000 people want the bus station to stay as it is [on the petition] why is it a majority of almost the same figure want TfL to change it? Could there be some tampering with the [TfL] votes…|I can’t work out how this has occurred. Can you?’

What else TVS’s correspondent wrote:

I travel through the bus station most days. I live in the area having previously lived in Clapham Junction and then in Battersea and now in South Lambeth and I work in central London. I hear comments on the buses and in the tube station and train station and have never heard one in favour of the two-way working.

I also remember the mess it was when we have two-way working and bus stops were all over the place. The place was invariably gridlocked and it will be so again. The circular motion around the bus station calms the traffic and spaces it much more effectively and efficiently.

You would only have to look at film of the before and after to see the difference. In the proposed model I also see no attempt to apply mathematical queueing theory both to calm and regulate traffic and ensure gridlocks don’t occur.

If LUL had produced a simulated model based on proper mathematical modelling that proved the intended layout would work for traffic from Wandsworth and South Lambeth given the excess traffic that will arrive and block the buses after the new US embassy is on stream, I would have had more confidence but I have seen no such model. I have seen no such simulation.

I am astonished that so many people appear to have voted for this option. No one I know in the area or at the bus station is in favour of two-way working. I should be most interested to see the background of those who did. Generally when there is such an overwhelming vote of approval one knows. It’s only when it’s too close to call that one does not. It just does not ring true.

Let’s say that if this were an election, I would be doing a Lloyd George and demanding a recount, then another and viagra texas another till the votes were accurately counted. The only thing I can think of to have occasioned such a result is if the forms were either incorrectly read or we get a situation such as that in the US where the vote went to the Court and subsequent counts proved George Bush had not won but no one could be bothered to wait.

The other issue is, where were these forms given out and to whom? What was the catchment area for them? I picked one up in the bus station but nowhere else and anyone who simply travelled through the bus station but did not get off the price of cialis in canada bus would not have received one.

This just does not ring true.


Kate Hoey MP: ‘You will now understand why the local community have been so clear that they did not trust TFL or Lambeth over the Vauxhall bus station plans. The community are usually proved right

Picture this: one house, two kings, an actress and ten offspring

johan zoffany front cover

johan zoffany front coverVauxhall’s David Wilson, an art dealer and art historian, tells a sad tale of local government clodhopping in his fine new book on Johan Zoffany (1733-1810). It’s the tale of how in Richmond upon Thames, a London borough with many royal associations, the council allowed historic Cardigan House to be bulldozed, apparently unaware of its royal past.

Wilson centres his book upon ‘The Sayer Family of Richmond’, painted in about 1781, which is one of Zoffany’s ‘conversation pieces’. Popular in the 18th century, these are informal group scenes, often showing a family pow-wow. Zoffany’s picture is stacked with visual clues as to what the Sayers might be talking about, and so is this book.

As Wilson told his audience at a recent Friends of Durning Library conversation, Robert Sayer (1725-1794) was Zoffany’s publisher and a leading producer of atlases and maritime charts. Zoffany shows Sayer, second wife Alice and his son James conversing in the grounds of the family home that Sayer built on Richmond Hill overlooking the Thames. The painting is still with us, in private hands but on loan to the Paul Mellon Centre for British Studies here in London. No such luck with the Sayer family home, known as Cardigan House. It fell into council ownership, and in 1970 was knocked down to make way for brick boxes.

Only after the bulldozers had finished did it dawn upon the local authority what an asset of historical and tourist value it had junked. Among the notables that succeeded the Sayers at Cardigan House was the Duke of Clarence (the future William IV) and his mistress, the actress Mrs Jordan, who bore the Duke ten children. Among their visitors was the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan. House guests included another future king, the Prince of Wales who was to become Prince Regent and then George IV, as well as husband of Caroline, sister of the Duke of Brunswick, once tenant of Vauxhall’s Brunswick House. Cardigan House was later the home of Captain John Willis, owner of the tea-clipper Cutty Sark, and in the Great War a club for wounded and convalescent servicemen.

Richmond upon Thames is named for Henry VII, who was the Duke of Richmond, and built a Richmond Palace, now like Cardigan House, long gone. Richmond was a favourite resort of Henry VIII, and of Elizabeth I, who died there in 1603.

David Wilson, Johan Zoffany RA and The Sayer Family of Richmond: A Masterpiece of Conversation. Paperback. London: David Wilson Fine Art, £18 plus postage, via

Say you heard about David’s book through The Vauxhall Society website, and David will pay postage and, if you live in Vauxhall/Kennington, hand-deliver.

Another gong for Gabriel Gbadamosi’s novel Vauxhall

vauxhallgbadamosi-194x300Gabriel Gbadamosi, Vauxhall-born novelist, poet and playwright (and Vauxhall Society committee member), has just won the ‘Best International Novel’ award at this year’s Sharjah International Book Fair for his autobiographically-tinged novel Vauxhall. Even before it was published Vauxhall was a winner, for in 2011 it collected the Tibor Jones Pageturner Prize.

Gabriel leads ‘My Vauxhall’, November’s free guided local history walk (Thursday 19 December, 1230-130pm) which is funded by Vauxhall One and organised by The Vauxhall Society. These monthly lunchtime walks are primarily for employees of Vauxhall firms, but if you like the sound of one, contact Vauxhall One and you may well be able to book a place, again free of charge, courtesy of Vauyxhall One. We’ll publish full details of the December walk in a day or two.

Sharjah Best International Novel Prize

Vauxhall, the novel

Vauxhall One

Two books to buy if you’re London-bound and we use it will stay in a Vauxhall apartment or hotel

Vauxhall: A Little HistoryTravelling to London on business or pleasure and staying in one of the apartments or hotels in Vauxhall on the South Bank of the River Thames? Albert Apartments? Comfort Inn? Dreamhouse? Travelodge? Novotel? Park Plaza Riverbank? St George Wharf? Thames View? Then do a little planning, and before you go buy a copy of the popular Vauxhall Society paperback guide Vauxhall: A Little History. In any of these hotels or apartments you’re not far from London’s best-known sights such as Tate Britain, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Trafalgar Square. But in Vauxhall, you’re also in a historic district, good for walks close to where you’re staying. Vauxhall: A Little History is full of local stories, and helps you to go and see for yourself what happened where. Hotels rarely stock local books, so best order your copy of Vauxhall: A Little History on our website before your trip.

If you’re coming to London for the 2014 World War One centenary, you should also check out Naomi Lourie Klein’s much-praised paperback These Were Our Sons, available from Elefant Books.

Vauxhall: A Little History – order direct

Vauxhall: A Little HistoryVauxhall: A Little History is a full-colour paperback by Ross Davies, Chairman of the Vauxhall Society. Described by the London Evening Standard as ‘must-read for members of Parliament’, Vauxhall: A Little History is, writes Vauxhall author, film and TV star Joanna Lumley, a book that ‘wears its learning lightly and charmingly’. Novelist Will Self says ‘This is local history written with a light touch, but backed by heavyweight learning,’ while Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey adds that it’s a book that ‘has you constantly saying “Well, I never knew that!”

Vauxhall: A Little History tops the Vauxhall One agency’s list of research sources for the Vauxhall Area.

If you don’t have a PayPal account you can still pay securely by credit card through PayPal.

Simply click on the appropriate button below. Then just select the correct credit card and fill in your details.

You can also buy Vauxhall: A Little History in the retail outlets listed below.

UK customers should order here:
£8.99 per copy (plus £2.75 P&P)

Non-UK customers should order here:
£8.99 per copy (plus £9 P&P)

Shops where you can buy Vauxhall: A Little History include:

The Book Warehouse
158 Waterloo Road

Clapham Books
120 High Street

Florence Nightingale Museum
2 Lambeth Palace Road

Foyle’s at the South Bank Centre
Belvedere Road SE1 8XX

Friends of St Thomas’ Hospital
Lambeth Wing
St Thomas’ Hospital

Garden Museum
Lambeth Palace Road

Herne Hill Books
289 Railton Road

The Kennington Bookshop
306-308 Kennington Road
SE11 4LD

Lambeth Libraries

30 Wandsworth Road,

Michael’s Shoe Repairs,
Michael’s Trophies & Engraving
45 South Lambeth Road

Museum of London

Parco Café
(Vauxhall Park)
190 Fentiman Road

Tate Britain, Tate Modern

Tea House Theatre
(Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens)
139 Vauxhall Walk
SE11 5HL

Wandsworth Museum
38 West Hill
SW18 1RX


These Were Our Sons – order direct

These Were Our SonsIn 1922 the names of 574 local men who perished in the First World War were carved into the panels of Stockwell’s War Memorial.

Who were they?

The book contained the stories of the jack-the-lads, fraudsters and underage volunteers, as well as seasoned soldiers, steady family men and hardworking artisans. They were bank clerks, printers, prison officers, railwaymen, barmen and plumbers, Christian and Jew, volunteer and conscript, young and old, brothers, fathers and sons. Their stories and wow it's great secrets, told through family letters, personal accounts and official records, are told here for the first time.

“Klein makes a memorial come alive – and records lives that deserve to be, as the hope remains, Not Forgotten.” – Ian Hislop

“The shock of reading of the sheer numbers lost, in our own neighbourhood, and the youth of so many of the fallen, makes me look at our war memorial with renewed humility and gratitude.” – Joanna Lumley (Stockwell resident)

These Were Our Sons is by Vauxhall Society committee member (and Chairman of the Friends group for the memorial), Naomi Lourie Klein, and is available direct from the publisher.

£3 from each sale goes to the Friends group, which is raising money to cover the cost of renovating the Memorial’s wooden double doors.

How an advertising pioneer revived Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens

Thomas Bish

Kennington resident Gary Hicks has contributed a page on advertising pioneer Thomas Bish to the Vauxhall Society’s History section. Bish, whom Hicks describes as “a strange mixture of idealist and spiv” helped raise the equivalent of £2 billion for good causes, and made a mint in the process. Royalty and politicians courted this early media star and society figure, who was one of the best-known men in the land and allegedly more famous than the prime minister himself. In 1821, with his old business cronies Frederick Gye and canadian healthcare Richard Hughes, Bish bought the Vauxhall Gardens lease from the Tyers family. Read more here.

Gary Hicks’ book The First Adman. Thomas Bish and the Birth of Modern Advertising is published by Victorian Secrets. Available through

Book review: Stockwell orphanage boy makes good

 Much More of This, Old Boy…? by Peter Paterson, is the best memoir of a life in print journalism I have read since H. L. Mencken’s rollicking Newspaper Days (1941).

Mencken, however, wrote of the reporter’s life in the Baltimore of the early 1900s. Paterson looks back on the Fleet Street of only yesterday. His title refers to the words engraved forever on any old hack’s heart, if he or she has one. Before email (i.e. yesterday), a reporter working away from the office would telephone in the story, which then became ‘copy’, typed up by a telephonist or ‘copy-taker’, usually a man, and then handed to the news desk. However preening the reporter, however flushed with self-satisfaction at having got the story and phoned it over in time to meet the edition, however pungent the prose, there would come a point when a bored telephonist would drawl ‘Much more of this, Old Boy?’ (‘Dear’, if the reporter were female). This book is the one you knew Peter Paterson could write, hoped he would and now you thank the great copy-taker in the sky that this consummate hack was able to complete his ‘copy’ before he died, aged 80, in July of this year. Much More of this, Old Boy…? is sardonic, bittersweetly funny, an elegy for a craft that is no longer what it was. Not a word is wasted, and every one of them is intelligently pressed into the service of telling the story, and what a fascinating story it is.

Paterson lived and thrived in what now seems like the last days of a golden age of newspapers, before they sank into moron culture and even felony, their economic base undermined by e-everything, their offices cheaply staffed by expensively-educated and well-connected ‘interns’. Things did not begin well for Paterson. When he was four years old (1935), he was consigned him to Spurgeon’s Orphan Home on the Clapham Road, Stockwell, where he spent ten tough years. Paterson was not an orphan, but a bastard, in the days before the production of illegitimate children became a career. Towards the end of his stay at Spurgeon’s (council flats now occupy the site) Paterson and the other boys and girls once saw a V1 pilotless flying bomb drone low over the playground to explode perhaps half a mile away. Life at Spurgeon’s was tough, but not wretched. Paterson writes:

I would not contest that some of the circumstances in Spurgeon’s were uncomfortable, even shocking in the light of today’s official attitudes towards childcare, but I have no intention of producing a ‘misery memoir’, but a report on how, in my recollection, things were.

Today, sexual abuse looms large in ‘official attitudes towards childcare’, in part because of newspaper priorities. If there was sexual abuse at Spurgeon’s, Paterson never saw it. The only sexual abuse Paterson ‘suffered’ was at the hands of an uncle, except Paterson did not ‘suffer’; his uncle did. It was a bit of kiddie-fiddling that merely puzzled the boy, but his aunt walked in on it and emptied a cup of hot tea in her husband’s crotch.

Looking back, Paterson concludes that he had a lot for which to thank the orphanage. Had he not been dumped there, he thinks he might have grown up with the same ‘poverty of expectation’ that blights so many school-leavers today. There’s an irony in the reflection that when the 14-year-old Paterson walked out of Spurgeon’s gates for the last time, he was better fitted for productive life than many of the children now living in the flats on the Spurgeon site will be when they leave school.

Paterson had the gumption to learn something useful. He signed up at the Wandsworth Technical Institute, where he learned shorthand. When the time came to do National Service, shorthand earned him a soft billet on the staff of a Kennington boy, Field-Marshal Montgomery, in London and Paris. That same shorthand, via part-time parliamentary reporting, paved Paterson’s path to Fleet Street. There’s no point summarising what Paterson tells so much better, so here’s Much More of this, Old Boy…? in a nutshell:

It’s conceivable that my good luck in falling so easily into a calling that required no entrance exams and offered companionship, variety, and enormous fun also had the effect of infantilising its practitioners, seduced by the feeling that life was not a doleful or serious business, but a constant lark. I certainly cannot remember, until I became a TV critic, among the loneliest of journalistic tasks, when it was not fun.

There’s more:

But the greatest and most long-lasting satisfaction I felt during my learner-driver years as a journalist lay in the close-up view I had a of a truly golden age of British politics, a period I was privileged to witness so closely that I felt part of it, which in a sense I was, albeit an insignificant one. This was a time when fine oratory was still a requirement of politicians, when the differences between parties seemed clear-cut and deep-seated [….] and more than 80% of the voters routinely went to the polls to elect a government. A contrast with today’s idea of civic duty, which appears largely to consist of paying premium rates to cast votes over a telephone to choose between contestants in TV reality shows. We have turned our backs on the political class in disgust over their greed and info viagra apparent irrelevance, but in the unjustly scorned 1950s, even the young regarded politics as a thrilling and entirely free activity; today it bores most of them to death.

There’s also a lot of travel, drinking and a fair amount of womanising and other newspaper high jinks and low living in Much More of this, Old Boy…? But go read the book; Paterson tells it better than I can.

This is a book I wish were twice as long.

Ross Davies 

Much More of This, Old Boy…?  
The Muswell Press

You can find more reviews of local authors or books about the Vauxhall area on our Books and Writers page here:

Growing Up in Lambeth

We recently rediscovered , written by Mary Chamberlain (born in Lambeth in 1947) and published by Virago in 1989. It paints a fascinating picture of life in Lambeth in the 20th century through oral history and her own experiences. You can pick up a copy for 1p on Amazon.