“Let’s go shopping, Caribbean-style,” enunciates the nasal Pathé reporter as he introduces this unmissable newscast from 1961.
The short, but highly evocative footage perfectly captures life in the Granville Arcade – “London’s largest emporium” – in all its 1960’s glory. It all looks so clean and slick; utopian, even.
But brace yourself for the casual sexism and racism of the day, too.
What starts out as excitement at the rich food choices for housewives in multicultral Brixton (who “all muck the food around before they buy”) quickly turns into a squirm-inducing assessment of the similarities between black and white children, and underlying fears about integration.
“The world of children knows no variants,” says the reporter. “Think of any baby, and hope that their lives will benefit from this blending of worlds.”
Yuck. It’s worth remembering that this is nearly five decades ago, yet the attitudes of the time feel far more ancient.
And isn’t fascinating to see the area thriving long before the Grade II-listed Granville Arcade building got rebooted as hipster foodie paradise Brixton Village?
Do you remember the arcade as it was? Or do your parents? Share your memories below.
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