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History of E&C

History of Elephant & Castle
  • council: Southwark
  • phone code: 020
  • postcode area: SE1, SE11, SE17
  • county: Greater London

The Elephant and Castle, often known as "the Elephant", is an area around a major road intersection, a centre of learning and a shopping district in central south London.

Dominated by roads that carry a lot of traffic from Europe and South London into the city centre and beyond, the area is noted for its two roundabouts that link the A3, the famous Old Kent Road (A2) and roads into the City; sitting on the edge of the congestion charge zone.

Its not all roads though.

To the north is the campus of the London South Bank University covering a wide range of learning including health, education and building disciplines and next door, the London College of Communication specialising in media studies.†Between the colleges is the brightly coloured shopping centre.

Another famous landmark the Coronet Theatre (now a venue for club nights and major name bands) also stands as a reminder of the late Victorian era when the Elephant was considered the Piccadilly of the south - a home to music halls and large drinking venues.†The Coronet - then known as the Palace Theatre - was a stepping stone for one Charlie Chaplin and was popular into the 1950s when it became a BBC recording studio where the Goons Show, with Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan, was recorded. A £2million investment has restored this former gem which also boasts corporate hire facilities and a cinema.

To the north near the universities is also the internationally acclaimed Ministry of Sound nightclub.

Aside from Chaplin, other famous locals include physicist Michael Faraday whose memorial steel box sits on the northern roundabout (an inscription in his honour can be found on the ground)doubling as a shell for the electricity transformer that powers the northern line. The actor Michael Caine and the electronic musician, Aphex Twin, live in a converted bank in the area.

Other local buildings of note are the department of Health HQ in Skipton House next to the Bakerloo tube, the Metropolitan Tabernacle drawing congregations from across London of up to 2000 and the Cuming Museum of Local History. Also nearby is the Siobhan Davies Dance Studio, the Imperial War Museum and the London Philharmonic.

So, apart from roads the area is well served with public transport having two underground stations serving the Bakerloo and Northern lines, a national rail station with trains operated by South-East, First Capital Connect and Thameslink.†An array of bus services adds to this to make the Elephant and Castle one of the most connected parts of not just London, but the country.

Now, the whole area and its surrounding housing estates is set to be transformed by a £1.5 billion regeneration programme that will bring benefits to the community, pedestrians and cyclists. It will deliver a new museum, cinema, playhouse, healthy living centre and build on the diverse retail offer.

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