The Beaufoys of Lambeth

On the genial banks of the Thames, writes Barbara Kerr, an enlightened family of early industrialists poured forth an ocean of sweets and sours.

Travellers looking eastward in a train approaching Vauxhall from the south-west can discern across a confusion of scaffolding a dazzlingly white cupola. 

Few can behold without a feeling of surprised pleasure this graceful structure which surmounts the vat-house of Beaufoy’s Vinegar Works (united with British Vinegars Ltd in 1932) in the South Lambeth Road.

The cupola stands as a memorial to a remarkably gifted family who made vinegar in Lambeth for two centuries; and as a milestone on the road along which Lambeth travelled from South-Bank seclusion to metropolitan status.

During this transformation the Biblical image was reversed, for the Surrey-side gardens became a desert of tenements, ‘offensive industries’ and uncollected garbage.

By the mid-eighteenth century, young provincials seeking to make their fortunes were looking towards the environs of the capital rather than to the City.

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