The joy of the bustling Walworth Road lies in the fact that despite being so close to the centre of London it has somehow – so far – managed to avoid full-blown gentrification and Starbucksification. Now on regeneration round two – having already been spruced up in the ’60s – it has managed to preserve its rough-round-the-edges charm, probably thanks to the fact that the area has such strong working-class roots.
Once called home by Michael Caine and Charlie Chaplin, Walworth Road runs south from the newly facelifted Elephant & Castle roundabout with its fancy flats and dodgy shopping centre (whose days are numbered), almost as far as sprawling Burgess Park, with its tennis courts, fishing lake and barbecue area. It’s a brilliantly diverse drag: spit-and-sawdust pubs next to Ghanaian restaurants, tailors next to Caribbean bakeries, plus it has an excellent 24-hour Turkish supermarket. Council blocks stand beside newbuilds, while polished Victorian terraces line many of the leafy side streets.Among the betting shops and the £5 neon bodycon dresses, there are artists’ studios, welcoming neighbourhood restaurants and places where you can get a decent mani or pedi for a tenner. It might be on the cusp of gentrification, but right now the Walworth Road is real London – in all its diverse, grubby glory.
Among the betting shops and the £5 neon bodycon dresses, there are artists’ studios, welcoming neighbourhood restaurants and places where you can get a decent mani or pedi for a tenner. It might be on the cusp of gentrification, but right now the Walworth Road is real London – in all its diverse, grubby glory.
A pint of Walworth-brewed Orbit beer at the latest boozer to be revamped by legendary publicans Antic London. The Elephant & Castle reopened in July with decor inspired by its location at the foot of an 1960s Ernö Goldfinger tower block.
Enough pints to fuel your questionably named team through the Sunday-evening pub quiz at The Beehive. Try the Walworth Burger: smoky bacon, cheddar, 8oz beef and BBQ sauce will cure the drunken munchies.
A slab of carrot cake with a lovingly made flat white at Fowlds Cafe, just next to leafy Burgess Park, in the front of a working furniture upholsterer’s – or book in for a supperclub held in the workshop.
A generously filled calzone or the ridiculously tasty veal escalope at friendly, authentic neighbourhood Italian La Luna.
Get a load of your friends together to scoff some lovely Lebanese street food from the charcoal grill at brilliant BYOB restaurant Bayroot.
Eat a confit duck burger, washed down with a vin rouge from the tightly packed tables at the candlelit Frenchie Bistro.
Ashtanga, hatha or vinyasa at the newly opened Yoga Arch studio, under the railway arches of Urlwin Street, just off the south end of Walworth Road.
Hit a strike (well, try to) at the London Palace Superbowl inside Elephant & Castle shopping centre.
Get groomed at Figaro Barbers, or get your talons shipshape insanely cheaply at Hollywood Nails.
See art at nearby Pullens Yards. The Victorian workspaces, purpose-built in the 1870s for craftsmen and small traders, are still used today by artists, designers, potters and architects. Keep an eye out for their summer and winter open studios.
Forget fancy quiches: pick up a whole bag of assorted veg for just a quid at East Street Market.
Natural beauty products and health remedies from nostalgia-inducing G Baldwin & Co. One of the oldest herbalists in London, it has de rigueur wooden flooring and high old-fashioned counters.
If you only do one thing…
Hang out at The Artworks Elephant – these old shipping containers house French, Vietnamese and Mauritian food, locally brewed beers, jiu jitsu classes, comedy shows and plenty more.
By Clare Vooght, who wants to ride an elephant around her very own castle
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