Black British history, Black-owned businesses and Brixton’s best kept secret on the Welcome to Brixton tour.

Big Ideas worked with Arsenal FC Academy to provide their U11s team with a special and informative tour of Brixton for Black History Month. The aim was to showcase and support the many Black-owned businesses in Brixton which is often known as the ‘cultural hub’ of London.

The U11s started their tour at The Black Cultural Archives where they took part in a BCA workshop. The BCA was founded to highlight the histories of people of African and Caribbean descent in Britain and the team challenged the group to discover Black British history for themselves. Following clues around the building, the group also investigated artifacts that had played a significant role in Black British history from typewriters to nurses’ uniforms.

Players using a typewriter for the first time at the BCA.

Next stop: Round Table Books inside Brixton Market, a shop that focuses on ensuring their books represent all communities. The players each had the chance to select a book and chose a wide range including everything from cartoons to autobiographies and some even selected books for their younger siblings. The owner also took time to answer the players’ questions about the business and spoke about giving everyone the opportunity to see themselves in literature.  

Lunch at the famous Fish, Wings ‘N’ Tings celebrated Caribbean cuisine with a selection of classic dishes including fish fritters and jerk chicken. The food was very popular, with players more familiar with Caribbean cuisines introducing their teammates to the joys of plantain. 

After lunch, the U11s took the Big Brixton quiz where they were asked questions about Black Pound Day, Brixton and The Empire Windrush, with a heated debate about the number of  languages spoken in Brixton. Official answer: 130


Lunch and a quiz.

The tour ended at the Ebony Horse Club, a stable and riding center right in the center of Brixton. Their mission is “to use horses to raise the education, life skills, wellbeing and aspirations of young people from disadvantaged communities within Lambeth.” 

Many of the players had not met a horse previously, but with assistance from the Ebony team they had an opportunity to spend time grooming and feeding their new friends. It was a pleasure to see U11s interact with horses for the first time and some said that they now want to take up horse riding. The Ebony Horse Club team are proud of the contribution they have made to diversity in horse riding and the day ended with a discussion of the importance of representation in sport and society.

Arsenal Academy’s Chris Thurston said, ‘We were really pleased to celebrate Black History Month in a way we hadn’t done before. Big Ideas helped bring together an enjoyable and meaningful day that our U11s loved. The boys learnt more about aspects of Black History, but also how local businesses run today and why they operate in the way they do. It’s great to see how each (of those businesses) interacts with their community and contributes positively to the lives of many in Brixton and London.’

Big Ideas would like to thank the Arsenal U11s for their enthusiasm and all of the businesses who welcomed us and took time to speak to the players. We hope to be back soon and would urge you all to pay these incredible places a visit. For more information on why it is important to support Black-owned businesses visit Black Pound Day.

Right: Arsenal U11s at the Claudia Jones statue celebrating the trailblazing Black British journalist at the BCA.