On Friday afternoon, a small group collected together in the middle of Windrush Square. Guarded by a bevvy of policeman, it included Mayor of London Boris Johnson, local MP Tessa Jowell, Mayor of Lambeth Christopher Wellbelove and veterans from the Windrush. With appropriate ceremony, they ‘unveiled’ the new square (not much unveiling to do unfortunately) accompanied by the Corpus Christi School Choir.
But who was there to watch them? Well, no one really. In a bizarre move, the community opening took place today, entirely separated from the rather more elitist TfL official opening.
What happened today, though, was much more fun. A belly dancer cheered up the lunchtime crowd, Brixton Village eateries had free tasters on offer and, in the late afternoon, the hip hop beats of the Illersapians got the dancers going.
Far removed from the formalities of the day before, this was one of those days that confirms the vibrancy of Brixton’s community. Sod the square itself, it’s the Brixtonites I love. In the words of Ros Griffiths below, “it’s not the Windrush Square that makes Brixton, it’s the people that make Brixton.”
Here’s what some of the community had to say:
Richard Gascoigne, Brixton
“I certainly like the idea of it. I live just up the road, so I’ve been coming past a lot when they’ve been doing it. I’m quite excited about it opening up finally and I hope it gets used. I always think that having public spaces is a good idea full stop. It would be nice to see lots of folk hanging around. I think there need to be more chairs though!”
Ros Griffiths, Brixton Splash, Brixton
“We’re happy that it’s improved, but it’s a bit sterile, it’s not personalised to Brixton, it looks very civic. It’s going to take some getting used to. This is Brixton and the square should reflect Brixton in terms of its culture, but it is no different from what we see in City Hall. It should have been more colourful to reflect the Brixton vibe. It’s not the Windrush Square that makes Brixton, it’s the people that make Brixton.”
Herman Morgan, Streatham
“It is an improvement. It wasn’t the best place to go and chill out before…except maybe for some! The drugdealers need places to go, but I think this gives the opportunity for so many more people to use the space that it might stop that from happening again. This can only be good.”
Natasha Smith, Brixton Splash, Brixton
“From what I can remember of Windrush Square, there was always a park place in one bit and then a waterfall, which I know a lot of the children will miss. You used to see a whole lot of children in the summer time playing in there. I remember my two brothers playing in it. There is a lot missing. It does look nice, but it’s a little simple.”