Cultural Entertainment – Can History Be an Inspiration?

vauxhall front cover

As Croydon. cultural enthusiasts continue to find ways of improving the vibrancy and range of their activities, can history be an inspiration for re-thinking past achievements in a modern setting. Vauxhall Pleasure Gdns survived as a commercial entertainment centre for nearly 200 years.

Vauxhall. Sex and Entertainment. London’s Pioneering Urban Pleasure Garden by Professor Penelope Corfield is one of the titles published under my imprint History & Social Action Publications.

Vauxhall Gardens is a name that conjures the pleasures of big city life. It reminds us that great towns provide opportunities for communal festivities and concord, as well as the often-stressed potential for urban problems and conflict.

This study explains how Vauxhall emerged as the brand-leader of the urban pleasure garden, from among the ranks of sixty or more rival gardens in post-Restoration London. Vauxhall became fashionable; it was popular; it was brilliantly organised; it was musical; it was entertaining; it had fireworks; it was a meeting place for lovers … it had it all.

Yet the continuing transformation of London brought change in its wake. Vauxhall did not endure for ever. While the new Oval Cricket Ground managed to survive in nearby south London, Vauxhall’s Pleasure Gardens disappeared. It took more than fame and, later, nostalgia to keep a front-rank leisure amenity going on the south bank. By studying Vauxhall’s rise and fall, we can understand the upheavals of the entertainment sector in the ‘modern’ city. A new chapter in this second edition highlights Vauxhall’s justified reputation for sexual glamour – and its legacy of eroticising the leisure industry by linking sex and entertainment.

The history of the Gardens still fascinates people, and for example there are regular walks of the present day Gardens devoted to the history of the historic complex. Crystal Palace became a commercial up-dated replacement.

The pamphlet grew out of talks Penny gave at the 2005 and 2006 local Festivals in the Vauxhall and Kennington area which I co-ordinated.

I have decided to promote it in Croydon e.g. on the Just Croydon website.

Its available from me £6 (inc post) –


About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy, housing and environment issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly. I am a member of the Love Norbury Residents Associations Planning & Transport Committees, and Chair of Nobury Community Land Trust. I write for Croydon Citizen at I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and edit the North East Popular Politics database. History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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