Our urbex report last week on the increasing number of abandoned British pubs featured a picture of a former London railway hotel latterly known as Brady’s Bar. Though we offered little detail in that broader article, the landmark clock tower, colourful history and Victorian ingenuity of this derelict watering hole at 20 Atlantic Road, Brixton, is certainly worth a mention. So popular / infamous was this venue, in fact, that local drinking lore holds: if you can remember a night at Brady’s, you weren’t there!
Originally named The Railway Hotel, Brady’s Bar has changed considerably over the years to accomodate the shifting sands of Brixton’s social make-up. Opened in 1880 when Brixton was a prosperous South London suburb, the hotel’s distinctive six-sided clock tower was designed to be seen from passing trains as they ferried commuters over several new bridges into central London.
The brick arch of the high level bridge around which The Railway Hotel was constructed made up part of the third floor ceiling – a noisy experience no doubt, but one that reflects the ingenuity of Victorian architecture and engineering. Brixton’s rich cultural heritage benefited heavily from the arrival of immigrants from the West Indies during the 1940s and 1950s, and The Railway Hotel played an intergral part in the thriving local music scene, hosting both Jimi Hendrix and The Clash.
Renamed Brady’s Bar in the 1990s, the pub was known for its relaxed take on licensing laws as locals drank late into the night. But it closed in 1999 after redevelopment plans went unrealised and, like so many other pubs, remained abandoned. Interestingly, Brady’s was taken over by squatters in 2000 who actually cleaned the venue up and reopened the front bar for music and poetry nights. They were evicted in 2002 and this important part of Brixton’s heritage has remained deserted ever since, despite plans to regenerate it.