Sumner Road Chapel: Pioneering Faith and Community in Peckham

London is a city rich in history, with numerous locations that reflect its diverse and complex past.


From a stadium that once hosted a mock-African village in the 1920s to a Soho nightclub that witnessed the birth of Britain’s first all-black band, the city’s landscape is infused with the legacy of black African settlement.

These landmarks, often overlooked, weave a tapestry that connects the past, present, and future of African London.

Ridley Road Market: A Cultural Hub

Ridley Road Market, established in the late 19th century, stands as an emblem of cultural intersection.

Serving as a vibrant outdoor bazaar, it has been a meeting point for diverse migrant groups, including Irish, Jewish, Turkish, Caribbean, South Asian, and particularly London’s African heritage settlers.


The market’s legacy is etched in the vivid colors of wax print fabrics, calabash bowls, and the presence of African land snails.

It’s not merely a market; it’s a cultural center brimming with history.

West African Students’ Union House: A Hidden Legacy

Camden may not immediately come to mind as a stronghold of Black African culture, yet it was home to the West African Students’ Union House.

Established in 1933, it served as more than a residence for overseas students; it became a social club, cultural embassy, and a base for a powerful political pressure group.

This establishment harbored the essence of West African cuisine, possibly being one of the first formal West African restaurants in Britain.


DLT Brunch and Recess: Celebrating Diasporic Joy

DLT Brunch and Recess are roving day parties that epitomize the carefree spirit of young, black Londoners.

Founded by second-generation British-Nigerians, these events blend Caribbean influences with a distinct African flair.

Featuring Afrobeats acts like Wizkid and earning recognition even from artists like Dave, these parties continue the tradition of politically charged and diasporic celebrations.

Sumner Road Chapel: Pioneering Faith and Community

In 1906, Thomas Brem Wilson, a Ghanaian entrepreneur turned preacher, established the first black majority Pentecostal church in the UK at Sumner Road Chapel in Peckham.

Despite facing challenges, this church laid the foundation for worship houses tailored to London’s African diaspora.


Wembley Stadium: Echoes of the Past

Initially built as part of the British Empire Exhibition in 1924, Wembley Stadium featured a West African village.

Although much of the exhibition’s original structures have vanished, this stadium remains, now adjacent to a carpet warehouse.

Its history echoes the presence of African settlers during that era.

The Africa Centre: A Vibrant Gathering Place

Established in Covent Garden in 1964, The Africa Centre became a home away from home for London’s diverse African diaspora.

This multifaceted institution hosted events, restaurants, and parties that celebrated African culture.


Unlike many forgotten places, it endures through a contemporary complex in Southwark.

Draughtboard Alley: A Diverse Haven

Draughtboard Alley, an area in Canning Town, was once a harmonious space where Somali and Asian sailors established a cosmopolitan community after World War I.

The community’s diversity was marked by mixed-heritage families and charitable organizations.

Unfortunately, racial attacks led to its decline, and its legacy was lost to history.

805: Culinary Influence

In 2014, actor John Boyega introduced his Star Wars co-star Harrison Ford to a Nigerian meal at 805, an Old Kent Road institution.


This eatery embodies the influence of African cuisine on London’s culinary scene, setting the stage for a wave of restaurants that continue to shape the city’s landscape and appetites.

The Black Mile: Soho’s Vibrant Past

Soho’s Black Mile in the 1930s was a nexus of sexual and social progressiveness for London’s black community.

Clubs like The Nest, The Shim Sham, and Abalabi hosted pioneering all-black bands and became symbols of cultural liberation.

These establishments left an indelible mark on Soho’s identity.

As you navigate London’s bustling streets, remember that beneath its modern facade lies a vibrant history that speaks to the resilience, creativity, and interconnectedness of its African heritage settlers.


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