Stockwell War Memorial Mural with Violet Szabo

The Stockwell War Memorial Mural can be found just outside the entrance to Stockwell tube station. It was created as part of a community art project led by muralist Brian Barnes. Featuring scenes and images with links to the local area it was painted in stages between 1999 and 2001.

Much of the mural draws on links and stories from the local area. Fields of painted poppies with faded images of soldiers in the trenches run along the base of it. Different sections then tell different stories. In particular the mural prominently features the wartime hero Violet Szabo who grew up in Stockwell.

The Stockwell War Memorial Mural

Stockwell War Memorial

Stockwell War Memorial itself stands slightly separate to the mural. Made of Portland Stone it was unveiled in 1922 by Princess Alice, the mother of Prince Philip and mother in law of the Queen. It features a clock tower and the names of 574 servicemen from Stockwell who died during the First World War. The monument and the mural stand in what remains of Stockwell Common.

The mural sits next to it and is painted onto a ventilation shaft which serves the nearby tube station. It’s design was primarily influenced by pupils from the Stockwell Park School. Working with them the artists Brian Barnes and Myra Harris then incorporated the ideas into the finished work. References to famous people with Stockwell links can be seen. Roger Moore, who grew up in the area and Vincent Van Gogh who spent six months living there are included.

Detail of the Windrush and transport elements

Mural Depictions

Other depictions include the MV Empire Windrush. This was a boat which brought the first generation of Caribbean workers into the UK. It’s name has now become synonymous with immigration during this era. Many of the first generation of the ‘Windrush Generation’ settled in and around Stockwell.

Local scenes too featuring children, transport and parks are depicted. Most prominently however the mural uses the concave walls of the structure to show the poppy fields of France. The words ‘At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them’ are written across the top. As such the mural is a blend of remembrance alongside more modern day references.

Poppies along the bottom of the mural. References to Windrush and the local community on the top
More detail of the war memorial element of the mural

Violet Szabo Mural

The section commemorating Violet Szabo came later in 2001. Unveiled by Violet’s daughter Tania it shows elements from her life. From humble beginnings growing up in the area she became a key agent during World War II operating behind enemy lines in France. She was captured by the Germans in 1944. Interrogated and tortured she was eventually sent to a Ravensbruck concentration camp and executed. She was since awarded the George Cross as well as the French Legion d’Honneur. She was only 23 when she died.

Faded element of the Szabo mural

The Stockwell War Memorial Mural can be found just outside the Stockwell tube station. It was visited during September 2020.

For more Inspiring City articles similar to this, have a look at:

1 Comment

Leave a Reply