Gabriel Gbadamosi is a local resident and an exceptional writer of Nigerian/Irish heritage. ‘Vauxhall’ is his extraordinary debut novel, telling the story of a young boy, Michael, growing up in this 1970s neighbourhood. We follow Michael and those who populate his life, while he is on the streets, at school, the market, or exploring old bomb sites with his friends, playing where he shouldn’t be by the river. It’s a comic, harsh and poignant novel, with moments rich in the imagination of a child navigating his relationships with family, teachers and neighbours – a life that is on the verge of change when his family home is about to be demolished as a slum to make way for new tower blocks. This poignant tale is threaded through with fairy tales, wisdom, love and warmth.
Our neighbour the Royal Vauxhall Tavern has been a hub for LGBTQ+ culture since before the decriminalisation of homosexuality. The Tavern was built in 1860-1862, on the corner of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens; a setting which attracted ‘pleasure seekers’ and ‘cross dressers’ (e.g John Cooper, AKA Princess Seraphina). By the time of WWII, the RVT had a well established reputation as a gay venue and hosted drag shows.
Over the following decades, the RVT has maintained its status as a thriving venue for the LGBTQ+ community, central to the establishment of Vauxhall as South London’s main LGBTQ+ district in the 1990s. It has survived gentrification attempts and in 2014 a campaigning group fought against its closure and won, succeeding in securing its status as a Grade II listed building.
The RVT is known for its diverse and exciting programme of alternative cabaret and drag, with regular nights such as Duckie, Kings of Clubs, Bar Wotever and Woof bringing a vast variety of acts to the stage. It continues to be an important part of Vauxhall’s community and nightlife.