South London has changed a lot since 1985 – but it turns out that the central location for the Daniel Day-Lewis classic ‘My Beautiful Laundrette’ looks pretty much the same. Take a trip back to Thatcher-era Vauxhall…
The location: 25-27 Wilcox Road, Vauxhall.
The scene: Omar, a young Pakistani man played by Gordon Warnecke, has been tasked with revitalising his uncle Nasser’s decrepit laundrette – a task he completes with the help of his old friend and secret lover Johnny (Daniel Day-Lewis). During the grand opening of the glammed-up premises, while Omar and Johnny have a cheeky shag in the back room, Nasser’s daughter starts a row with his mistress. Families, eh?
Then: In 1985 this was a deprived patch of south London, mostly populated by white and Caribbean working-class communities. (According to London architectural historian Edmund Bird, Pakistani businessmen like Nasser were more likely to have operated out of the East End.)
Now: Wilcox Road hasn’t altered much in 32 years – though with new private flats going up all around it, that could soon change. These days there’s a Portuguese café at numbers 25-27, serving a community that’s grown hugely since the ’80s. But you’ll still find a laundrette here, just a few doors down at number 15.
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