Reliance Arcade which runs between Brixton Road and Electric Lane was built into an existing Georgian house between 1923 and 1925 adopting the Art Deco style which was the fashion of the day. The Electric Lane frontage is a rare surviving example in London of Egyptian inspired terracotta architecture which was en vogue following the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922.
The arcade, which houses 27 small businesses across 40 units, is on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register but can be taken off once the restoration is complete. The renovation started in April and is due to be completed early in the new year.
Word from Lambeth Council
A Lambeth Council spokesperson said: “This important shopping arcade is home to a wide variety of small traders operating from a fantastically characterful building. We would encourage everyone to include a visit when out Christmas shopping this year so they can experience the atmosphere, see the progress made and support our small traders.”
Supporting local businesses
To help maintain the arcade’s unique offer Lambeth Council has secured a guarantee that no rents will rise as a result of the work for at least five years. Businesses have continued to trade throughout the renovation and been supportive of the project.
The work includes a comprehensive repair of the building including a new glazed roof, repairs to the slate roof to the Georgian house, removing out of character later additions and restoring original features. That includes more than 340 metres of stainless steel trim, replacement of new black glass, reinstating the original canopy and shopfronts on Brixton Road and creating a new rainbow entrance feature.
Word from a trader
Markie (pictured) from Universal Roots Records who has been based in Reliance Arcade for four years said that the building really needed the renovations and that he expects the end result will be great.
He said: “We get a lot of tourism with visitors to Brixton. The area has a long history of music and people want to come here and get an experience of that musical culture. The music shop is a place to browse and hangout, talk, it’s a real experience.”
Lottery Heritage fund
The work is part of the Brixton Townscape Heritage Initiative which is supported by £1.9million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. £620,000 of that National Lottery funding has been committed to these works with Lambeth Council committing £200,000 towards the project. The Heritage of London Trust have contributed a grant of £10,000 towards the restoration of the Egyptian-style façade on Electric Lane. The building owner is also investing more than £530,000.